10 ways to clean with aluminum foil — spruce up your home with this silver superstar

Clean with aluminum foil to transform everything from oven grates to shower screens

Opened roll of aluminum foil on a wooden counter, for article about cleaning with alumunium foil entitled '10 ways to clean with aluminum foil'
(Image credit: Kinga Krzeminska/Getty Images)

Knowing the many ways to clean with aluminum foil will help get your home sparkling as bright as the silver stuff itself.

Aluminum foil isn't just for wrapping leftovers — it's also a handy tool for cleaning an array of household items, from shower screens, to rust and silverware. In this article, our industry experts will explain its many uses, with step-by-step instructions on getting the most of this cheap, widely-available home product.

With these handy aluminum foil tips and tricks, cleaning your home will be a cinch.

10 ways to clean with aluminum foil

With its unique chemical composition and abrasive quality, aluminum foil makes a great addition to your arsenal of cleaning supplies.

In this article, our industry pros will dive into the 10 jobs you can tackle brilliantly with tinfoil, with the simple 'how to' steps included so you can crack on at home, plus industry insight into why they work.

Where our experts have suggested specific types of products, we've sourced highly rated ones from reliable retailers using our wealth of homes shopping insight to bring you what we consider great and effective buys to bolster your cleaning, always explaining too why we rate them.

All prices were correct at the time of publication.

1. Oven grates

Delicious pie with criss-cross top on oven grate, ready for eating

(Image credit: Catherine Falls Commercial/Getty Images)

Oven grates can accumulate stubborn grease and food residue over time, and become more baked in by the high temperatures every time you cook, making them challenging and infuriatingly stubborn to clean. But good news folks, aluminum foil can help make this task so much easier. 

Cleaning specialist Angela Rubin, of Hellamaid, says, "Combining aluminum foil with baking soda and vinegar makes for a potent combination on crusty oven grates."

Begin by lining your bathtub or a container big enough to take your oven grates with aluminum foil, shiny side up. Target's Standard Aluminum Foil comes with more than 5,000 excellent reviews.

Angela says, "Place the grates on the foil before sprinkling baking soda generously over them. Next, pour vinegar over them to create a foaming reaction."

Fill your chosen container with enough hot water to immerse the grates and let them soak for 20-30 minutes. 

Finally, use crumpled aluminum foil to scrub the grates, removing any remaining grease or residue. Rinse them thoroughly with clean water and dry with a towel before reinstalling.

Angela adds, "Baking soda and vinegar create a chemical reaction that helps to loosen baked-on grease and grime, while the abrasive texture of aluminum foil assists in scrubbing away tough stains without scratching the surface."

For high-quality vinegar, try the AVO Pure Natural Distilled White Vinegar from Amazon which is non-toxic and chemical free — music to our eco-friendly ears. Bob's Red Mill Baking Soda from Target comes with five-star reviews from happy shoppers. Our eczema prone team like that this item is free from the top nine allergens, reducing the risk of skin irritation on contact because we know even natural materials can wreak havoc on our skin when we're busy cleaning up a storm.

Angela Rubin, cleaning expert at HellaMaid
Angela Rubin

Angela Rubin works at Hellamaid, a top-rated cleaning company in Canada. Hellamaid are industry experts specializing in residential and commercial cleaning services. 

2. Rusty metal

Rust can tarnish metal surfaces, like garden tools, making them appear dull and unattractive. A clever combination with aluminum foil and cola, vinegar or lemon juice can help remove rust from metal, restoring maximum shine. 

Angela says, "Tear off a piece of aluminum foil and dip it into cola, vinegar or lemon juice. Gently rub the foil over the rusted areas, applying light pressure. Continue rubbing until the rust starts to lift off the metal surface. Wipe away any residue with a damp cloth. Repeat the process if necessary until the rust is completely removed."

The process works thanks to the acidity of the cola, vinegar or lemon reacting with the rust, breaking it down so it's easier to remove. 

Angela adds, "The abrasive nature of aluminum foil then helps to scrub away those loose rust particles without causing damage to the underlying metal."

ReaLemon 100% Lemon Juice from Target comes with five-star reviews and if you decide it's not for you, can be returned in store or online. Also popular is the budget-friendly multi-pack RC Cola's Soda Pop from Walmart.

3. Shower screens

Clean bathroom with gleaming glass shower screen in front of shower

(Image credit: John Keeble/Getty Images)

Soap scum and hard water stains can build up on shower screens over time, leaving them looking dull and dirty. Aluminum foil can prove your surprising star when it comes to cleaning your shower and restoring the glass screen's clarity. 

Lina DaSilva, founder of Toronto Shine Cleaning, says, "To get your shower screen gleaming, crumple a piece of aluminum foil into a ball, dampen with water and a drop of vinegar or dish soap, then scrub the glass surface in circular motions."

Adding dish soap or vinegar helps to break down grease and grime, while adding shine.

Lina adds, "The texture of the crumpled aluminum foil works as an abrasive, removing any soap scum without the need for chemicals and avoiding scratches on the glass."

After cleaning, rinse the shower screen thoroughly with water to remove any remaining residue.

This aluminum tip is especially helpful if like Real Homes editor Punteha van Terheyden, you live in a hard-water area and you're constantly battling build-up. She adds, "I keep my homemade solutions and a small supply of materials such as dish soap in a little travel shampoo bottle and aluminum foil in little squares under my shampoo bottles, so they're out of sight but close at hand within the shower itself.

"Whenever I'm in the shower, I give the the shower screen a quick spruce. Maintaining it little and often will make it less likely that layers of stubborn shower scum builds up in hard-water areas and help you swerve having to tackle a bigger scum-fighting battle down the line."

Lina DaSilva
Lina DaSilva

Lina DaSilva is founder of the award-winning Toronto Shine Cleaning. With over 10 years' industry experience, she specializes in residential cleaning and home organization. Lina's venture focuses on offering living wages and empowering homeowners to enjoy cleaner, more organized spaces.

4. Glass dishes

Glass oven dish containing cauliflower quiche, shot from above and places on a stripey green and white dish towel, on top of a painted wooden surface

(Image credit: Helin Loik-Tomson/Getty Images)

Though great for retaining heat and keeping food warm, glass dishes often end up covered in baked-on, hard-to-clean food crust. Enter: mighty aluminum.

To clean glass dishes with aluminum, simply crumple a piece of foil into a ball and use it to scrub the surfaces of the dishes, focusing on areas with stuck-on food. Mix dish soap and warm water in the usual way to create a lather, then get to work.

The abrasive texture of the foil will help loosen the residue, making it easier to wash away. 

For strong, reliable aluminum foil, check out Walmart's Great Value Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil

5. Silverware

Interior of well-organized cutlery drawer with wooden drawer dividers separating out six types of silver cutlery

(Image credit: Kinga Krzeminska/Getty Images)

Silverware can become tarnished over time, especially if it's not used regularly. Aluminum foil can help remove tarnish and restore its natural shine. 

Hometalk editor and home improvement expert Amy Poulton says, "One hack for cleaning tarnished silver is by using baking soda and aluminum foil. I love it as it's faster and less labor-intensive than traditional polishing.

"First, fill a pan with boiling water, drop in a piece of aluminum foil and add baking soda. Dip the silver item into the pot for a minute. This causes a chemical reaction that removes the tarnish like magic."

Rinse with clean water then dry the silverware thoroughly with a soft cloth before storing. This E-Cloth Home Cleaning Set from Amazon will have all your home-cleaning needs covered.

Profile photo of Hometalk editor Amy Poulton
Amy Poulton

Amy Poulton is editor and home-improvement expert at Hometalk, the world’s largest home DIY community. It has 150,000 tutorial videos on everything from cleaning to decor provide inspiration, and shared expert guidance to more than 21 million members. 

6. Clothes

While you might feel you know how often to do laundry, this lesser-known tinfoil trick will get your garments extra soft.

Amy says, "Aluminum can be used as a natural fabric softener in your washing machine. Simply add a few balls of crumpled aluminum foil to the wash along with your clothes, making sure there's enough space for the balls to move. 

"The foil balls create an opposing static charge and disrupt fabric with their movement, leading to less static cling and fewer wrinkles." 

Used in the same way, by adding crumpled balls to the spin, aluminum foil can also help remove static cling from clothes in the dryer. For best results, use new pieces of foil with each load of laundry.

7. Faucets

Silver kitchen faucet on white counter with light from doorway behind

(Image credit: Sam Edwards/Getty Images)

Hard water deposits can leave faucets looking dull and dingy. Using aluminum foil is one of the best ways to clean faucet heads, restoring their sparkle. 

Simply dip a crumpled piece of tinfoil in a mixture of water and vinegar, before scrubbing the faucet. The abrasive texture of the foil will help loosen the deposits, while the acidic properties of the vinegar will help dissolve them. 

Rinse the faucets thoroughly with water after cleaning to remove any residue.

8. Cookware

Aluminum foil can also be used to remove burned-on food from cookware. 

Karina Toner, operations manager at Spekless Cleaning, says, "Crumple a piece of aluminum foil into a ball, ensuring it has a textured surface, then add a few drops of dish soap. Sprinkle a small amount of baking soda onto the surface of the cookware.

"Use the aluminum foil ball to scrub away baked-on grease and food residue, applying gentle pressure as needed. The textured surface of the foil helps to dislodge stubborn grime without scratching the cookware.

"To finish, rinse the cookware thoroughly with warm water and dry it with a clean towel."

Karina recommends If You Care Recycled Aluminum Foil from Amazon. She adds, "It's a great, eco-friendly option, made from 100% recycled aluminum, that performs exceptionally well for cleaning tasks."

Profile photo of Karina Toner, operations manager at Spekless Cleaning
Karina Toner

Karina Toner is operations manager at Spekless Cleaning, which prides itself on exceptional cleaning, professionalism and client satisfaction. With over a decade of hands-on experience in the cleaning industry, Karina specializes in providing expert, tailored advice for clients on natural cleaning methods that prioritize both effectiveness and sustainability.

9. Copper pans

Copper pans hanging from a mounted wall shelf in a country kitchen a kitchen, going from smallest to largest, with shelf above filled with jars of different ingredients

(Image credit: therry/Getty Images)

Owners of these beautiful pans will know they tend to lose their shine over time and so are often  looking for ways to clean copper. You'll be pleased to hear that aluminum foil can help restore them to their former glory. 

Karina says, "To begin, mix equal parts salt and white vinegar in a bowl. Next, tear a sheet of aluminum foil and dip it into the solution, before using it to scrub the tarnished copper surface.

"The combination of salt, vinegar and aluminum foil will remove the tarnish and restore shine to your copper cookware in no time."

Rinse the copper cookware thoroughly with clean water and dry with a soft cloth, before returning to the rack.

Karina adds, "For heavy duty cleaning, I recommend Reynold's Wrap Non-Stick Aluminum Foil from Amazon. Its non-stick coating makes cleaning even easier!"

10. Iron

Iron on ironing board with light-filled kitchen in background

(Image credit: Carol Yepes/Getty Images)

Even the best irons on the market can accumulate stains and residue on the soleplate — but a sheet of aluminum will have yours as good as new.

To clean an iron with aluminum foil, crumple a large piece of foil into a ball and dip it in a mixture of water and vinegar or lemon juice. 

Unfold the foil and place it onto your ironing board. Turn the iron to the highest setting and run it over the foil-covered surface several times. The abrasive texture of the foil will help remove residue and restore the smoothness of the soleplate. 

Once clean, unplug the iron and allow it to cool completely before wiping the soleplate with a damp cloth to remove any remaining residue.

So there you have it — 10 ways to clean with aluminum foil.

Next, learn about the 10 household jobs you can do with vinegar and 30 ways to clean with baking soda to really supercharge your cleaning with ingredients you have knocking about in the kitchen already.

Andy van Terheyden
Freelance Writer

I'm a senior writer with an English degree and NCJ qualification, plus years of experience writing news, lifestyle and consumer articles for the national and international press. I'm also a copywriter, working on a breadth of consumer and corporate projects, and a private education consultant. I live in the quiet of the countryside and spend my weekends mooching around homeware shops, completing DIY tasks to breathe life into my small, newly-built home.