Using aluminum foil to line cookie sheets and to keep a steak hot while you finish getting everything ready to eat are the ways we’re supposed to use it, right? Well, yes, but so many other aluminum foil hacks can save you time, money, and effort. You can use it to polish silver and halt static cling. And there are dozens more ways to use an ordinary roll of aluminum foil.
1. Clean silver
Line a bucket or bowl with aluminum foil. Add the silver items you want to polish. Fill the vessel with two tablespoons of washing soda (aka soda ash), two tablespoons of ordinary table salt, 1 cup of plain white vinegar, and 2 cups of boiling water. Leave the silver in the water for about 15 minutes. The tarnish that has covered your beautiful silverware is attracted to the foil, making it easier to clean the silver. For more details and answers to your questions, take a look at This Homemade Silver Cleaner Removes Tarnish Like Magic.
2. Keep the oven clean
When preparing to bake a gorgeous pie, lasagna, or another casserole, you can catch all those messy drips before they mess up the oven by laying a sheet or two of aluminum foil over the rack below.
Caution: Don’t line the bottom of the oven floor with foil, as that is not safe. But foil on that bottom rack does a great job. Once you remove the baked item, gather that foil and put it in the trash along with any burned-on mess.
3. Stop static cling
One EC reader has eliminated the need for dryer sheets using one of the best aluminum foil hacks yet.
“I was a firm lover of dryer sheets to combat static cling until I found that I could take aluminum foil, ball it up, and toss it in the dryer with the wet laundry. It removes static and never has to be changed. I’ve used the same aluminum foil ball for over six months.”
4. Boost WiFi
Dealing with a weak WiFi signal at your home? Make a screen out of aluminum foil by covering a piece of cardboard or something similar, and stand it against a wall in the spot you want to increase the signal. The signal will be increased in the direction of the screen.
5. Shine chrome
Take a sheet of aluminum foil and crumple it up into a ball. Now use it and some good ol’ elbow grease to bring the chrome on appliances, strollers, older car bumpers, and so forth to make it shine like new. Aluminum foil will even remove rust spots. Caution: Most “chrome” on new cars is not chrome but actually plastic—DO NOT rub plastic chrome with aluminum foil!
6. Clean silver jewelry
- aluminum foil
- baking soda
- boiling water
- silver items
Line a small bowl with aluminum foil. Next, carefully fill the bowl with boiling hot water. Add one or two tablespoons of baking soda. Carefully drop jewelry pieces into the solution. Allow sitting there for a minute or two. Rinse and set out on a clean cloth to air dry.
7. Attach a patch
An iron-on patch is an easy way to fix small holes in the clothing—but only if it doesn’t get stuck onto your ironing board. You can avoid this by placing a piece of aluminum foil under the hole, with the patch on the top side. Go ahead and iron as instructed on the patch label. It won’t stick to the patch; you can just slip it out when you’re finished.
8. Protect eyeglasses
If you color your hair, you know it involves time for the color to process—time to just sit there and wait. You want to catch up on your reading but can’t read without your specs. If you put them on, they’re sure to end up stained by the color. Solution: Wrap the temples of your glasses (side arms) with aluminum foil. This won’t wreck the color, but it will protect your glasses.
9. Quick funnel
Need a funnel but don’t have one handy? Fold a piece of aluminum foil to easily make a funnel that will help you accomplish the task without leaking and making a big mess.
10. Protect a child’s mattress
Potty training is both gratifying and, at times, frustrating. Accidents happen. And when they happen at night, that’s can caution. Sure, you have a mattress pad, but it may not be waterproof, so do this: First, lay several sheets of aluminum foil across the width of the mattress. Then, cover them with a good-sized size bath towel. A beach towel is ideal. Finally, attach the mattress pad and bottom sheet.
11. Scrub the BBQ
If you have ever been tasked with cleaning the barbecue grill, you will know it’s a horrible chore. You can make it easier if you scrub the grill with a scrunched-up ball of foil. It will be cleaned up in no time at all!
12. Fix the lighting
Professional photographers use reflectors to throw extra light on dark areas of their subject and to even out the overall lighting. To make a reflector, lightly coat a piece of mat board or heavy cardboard with rubber cement and cover it with aluminum foil, shiny side out (it’s more reflective than the dull side). You can make one single reflector as large as you want, but it’s better to make three panels and join them with duct tape so that they stand up by themselves and fold up for handy storage and carrying.
13. Build a seed incubator
To give plants grown from seeds a healthy headstart, cover a shoe box with aluminum foil, allowing about two inches of foil to extend out over the sides. Poke several drainage holes in the bottom—penetrating the foil—then fill the box more than halfway with potting soil and plant the seeds. The foil inside the box will absorb heat to keep the seeds warm as they germinate, while the foil outside the box will reflect light onto the young sprouts. Place the box near a sunny window, moisten the soil, and watch ’em grow.
14. Foil thieves’ plans
Car keys that have the keyless start system work via a wireless connection use a signal that only works when you’re within about two meters of your car; otherwise, it won’t connect. Unfortunately, clever thieves have found a way to hack this signal, which means they don’t need your keys to open the car, start it, and drive off.
The cheapest and easiest way to foil their plan is to wrap your car keys in a piece of aluminum foil before you put them in your bag or pocket. This disrupts the signal. Still not feeling at ease about this? You can also ask the car dealer to block the keyless feature. That way, no one can use it (including you, but you’ll still have your manual key).
15. Bake a perfect pie crust
You can keep the edges of your homemade pies from burning by covering them with strips of aluminum foil. The foil prevents the edges from being overdone while the rest of your pie gets perfectly browned.
16. Discourage tarnish
Store freshly cleaned silverware on top of a sheet of aluminum foil to deter tarnishing. For long-term storage, tightly cover each piece in plastic wrap—be sure to squeeze out as much air as possible—then wrap in foil to seal the air out.
17. Scrub your pots
Don’t have a scrub pad? Crumple up a handful of aluminum foil and use it to scrub your pots. Works every time!
18. Polish your silver
Is your silverware looking a bit dull these days? Try an ion exchange, a molecular reaction in which aluminum acts as a catalyst. All you have to do is line a pan with aluminum foil, fill it with cold water, and add two teaspoons of salt. Drop your tarnished silverware into the solution, let it sit for two to three minutes, then rinse off and dry.
19. Sharpen your scissors
What can you do with those clean pieces of leftover foil hanging around? Use them to sharpen dull scissors. Fold a piece of foil into several layers and start cutting into strips through all the layers. Seven or eight passes should do the trick. Can’t get more simple than that.
20. Keep paint off door knobs
When painting a door, aluminum foil is great for wrapping doorknobs to keep paint off them. Overlap the foil onto the door when you wrap the knob, then run a utility knife around the base of the knob to trim the foil. That way, you can paint right up to the edge of the knob. In addition to wrapping knobs on the doors that you’ll paint, wrap all knobs along the route to where you will clean your hands and brushes.
21. Create a sun box for plants
A sunny window is a great place for keeping plants that love a lot of light. However, since the light always comes from the same direction, plants tend to bend toward it. To bathe your plants in light from all sides, make a sun box: Remove the top and one side from a cardboard box and line the other three sides and bottom with aluminum foil, taping or gluing it in place. Place plants in the box and set them near a window.
22. Grow untangled cuttings
Help plant cuttings grow strong and uncluttered by starting them in a container covered with a sheet of aluminum foil. Simply poke a few holes in the foil and insert the cuttings through the holes. A bonus: The foil slows water evaporation, so you’ll need to add water less frequently.
When you’ve poured your heart and soul into baking a cake, you want it to come out of the oven looking perfect. To prevent the edges of your cake from getting too brown, cover them with aluminum foil. This will ensure they won’t burn or be too brown before the cake is done.
Gardening is a wonderful hobby as long as our plants grow and thrive. Perhaps you’ve discovered how much birds love strawberry plants; how much rabbits love just about anything you’ve planted. Instead of making a less-than-attractive scarecrow, you can also use strips of aluminum foil. Hang them in the plants or trees where they will shimmer and reflect sunlight. Those rascally predators will stay away.
Ironing is very relaxing to some people like myself, while others hate the chore. It doesn’t matter what you think of it, it’s a task that can’t be put off forever. But you can speed up the process! Place a sheet of aluminum foil underneath the cover of your ironing board. The foil will reflect the heat from your iron, which speeds up the ironing.
26. Scorched iron
One last aluminum foil hack to fix a most annoying situation. The bottom of the clothes iron (the ‘soleplate’) changes color and can become scorched. Whether that’s due to spray starch or something else, it could easily stain the new lovely white thing you need to iron. Luckily, there’s a very simple trick you can use to clean your iron’s soleplate within no time.
Tear off a large piece of aluminum foil from the roll and place it on a towel, matte side up.
Heat your iron to maximum temperature.( If a steam iron, do not use the steam function to clean your iron with aluminum foil.)
Iron over the aluminum foil with the hot, dry iron for about five minutes. This will cause the dirt from your iron to settle on the aluminum foil. Repeat the process with a new piece of foil if all the residue did not stick to the aluminum foil on the first pass.
Updated, Republished 5-23-23