5 Ways to Use Aluminum Foil to Clean

5 Ways to Use Aluminum Foil to Clean

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman/The Kitchn)

We all know that aluminum foil is great for preventing a mess. It can catch spillage in the oven or grill, or save you a step of cleaning your baking sheets. But did you know it can clean up, too?

When you crumple aluminum foil, it's abrasive enough to tackle tough stains (on very strong surfaces, of course), and because it's made from aluminum, it has some pretty cool properties that help out other metals.

Here are five ways to use aluminum foil to clean.

1. To scrub away caked-on food.

Scrunch a square of aluminum foil into a ball and what do you get? An abrasive, resilient scrubber that can tackle caked-on rice and baked-on lasagna on glass and metal cookware. This is a great way to reuse foil at home that might otherwise be too soiled for the recycle bin. Crumple up the foil you used to cover your lasagna for baking to clean the dish when it's all eaten.

2. To polish silver.

This is a wild but well-documented miracle: Line a baking pan with aluminum foil, then fill with hot water, and two teaspoons of salt. Drop in tarnished silver and through a process called ion exchange, the tarnish will disappear.

3. To de-gunk your iron.

If your iron has caked-on fabric softener or hard-water stains, remove the deposits by running the hot iron on a piece of aluminum foil — they'll detach from the iron and cling to the foil.

4. To remove rust from appliances.

Got used-to-be shiny chrome accents on your appliances that have started to rust? Scrub then with balled-up aluminum foil and they'll look like new.

5. To scrub your grill.

You don't need a whole new tool to clean burnt food bits off your grill: Crumple up a ball of foil and use it to scrub those grates. Bonus: Because you can squish it into any shape, you can make skinnier balls to clean in between the grates.

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