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Household Uses for Used Aluminum Foil - Does it Work?

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Mazlan has an affinity for insightful facts that he loves to share with others.


What to Do With Used Aluminum Foil?

Aluminum foil is one of the most common household items found in almost every kitchen. It is used in a variety of ways from industrial to domestic applications. Unfortunately, most of these used aluminum foils are thrown away.

The good news is, you can reuse used aluminum foil in a number of ways throughout the home. But does it work?

If you search 'aluminum foil hacks' you will find several recommendations on what to do with used aluminum foil.

I decided to try to test some of these recommendations and check if it actually works.

Here are my findings.

Using aluminum foil to remove wrinkles in clothes don't give good results

Using aluminum foil to remove wrinkles in clothes don't give good results

1. Use Aluminum Foil to Remove Wrinkle on Silk Clothes

If you have silk, wool, or rayon clothes, you know the frustration of ironing them to perfection. It always requires quite a few passes of the iron to flatten the wrinkles.

These materials can't take direct heat and the iron temperature has to be set to low.

It is claimed that using aluminum foil can solve this problem.

The instructions say to place aluminum foil under the ironing board cover. The indirect and reflected heat from the foil will speed up and smoothen the wrinkles.

Evaluation Result

Unfortunately, I didn't get the result I had hoped for. I followed the above instruction, but there was no improvement in the ironing process. It took me just as long to remove the wrinkle with or without the aluminum foil. Maybe my iron isn't good enough?

Using aluminum foil, to remove starch build up. From the Before (left) and After (right) photos, you can see that there's no  improvement

Using aluminum foil, to remove starch build up. From the Before (left) and After (right) photos, you can see that there's no improvement

2. Starch Build Up on Iron

One of the methods to remove starch build-up on your iron is to use vinegar and baking soda mixture. However, running a hot iron over a sheet of aluminum foil is claimed to be a faster and more efficient way to remove this starch build-up.

Evaluation Result

I decided to test this and surprisingly, this aluminum foil trick DOESN'T work. See the before and after photos. I tried on both used and new aluminum foils. Also, tried on the shiny and matte surfaces, still no difference.

This is frustrating as I need to remove that starch build-up on my iron. So now I have to try other methods!

3. Anti-Cat Spray

Among the many aluminum foil hacks, this is my favorite. It asked you to hang or lay an aluminum foil sheet at places where your cat or dog likes to spray or do their business. It is supposed to stop them from doing so.

Evaluation Result

I did as described and my cat hasn't done it yet. So does it mean this aluminum foil trick works?

Maybe or maybe my cat decided to go somewhere else? But so far so good.

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Using aluminum foil to remove grease - before and after photos

Using aluminum foil to remove grease - before and after photos

4. Scouring or Scrubbing

OK, let's try the next aluminum foil trick. Instead of using steel wool try aluminum foil to scrub and scour your dirty and greasy oven. This aluminum foil trick is supposed to also work on pots or BBQ grills from any burnt food that got stuck on these utensils.

Crumple a small sheet of aluminum foil or a used aluminum foil into a coarse ball. Use it to scrub the dirt off.

Does it work?

Evaluation Result

I tried on my toaster tray and from the before and after photos, you can see that there's not much improvement. I am not impressed and convinced that this is one of those uses for used aluminum foil that does not work. My recommendation is to use the commercially available grease cleaner or homemade vinegar and baking soda mixture.

Sharpen your scissors with aluminum foil

Sharpen your scissors with aluminum foil

5. Sharpen Scissors with Aluminum Foil

The next time you need to cut a sheet of aluminum foil for your cooking, don't just tear them. Use a pair of scissors to cut it. The aluminum foil will keep the scissors sharp.

If your scissors are already blunt, then fold any used aluminum foil so that it is eight to ten layers thick. Now cut the foil a few times with the blunt scissors. It is supposed to sharpen it. If it is still blunt, repeat the process.

Evaluation Result

Oddly enough, this aluminum foil trick works. It is easy and doesn't take too much effort to get results.

Aluminum foil to remove rust

Aluminum foil to remove rust

6. Rub Off the Rust Spot

Another aluminum foil trick is using crumpled aluminum foil to rub off any rust spot from any metal surface. The used aluminum foil is best for this work.


I tried it on my metal gate that has rust spots at several places. From the before and after photos, using aluminum foil is an excellent tool for this job. It works. The rust came off easily.

Putting Used Aluminum Foil to Good Use

From these six tried and tested reviews, it seems to work on about 50% of the suggested aluminum foil hacks. Since it is available in most households, it is better to put your used aluminum foil to other uses instead of throwing them.

So, next time you are done with your cooking don't throw away that aluminum foil. You will find new uses for it.

Do you have success in the aluminum hacks that I had failed? Or do you have success in other uses? Share it with us here.

Is aluminum foil recyclable and is it bad for the environment?

Is aluminum foil recyclable and is it bad for the environment?

FAQs on Used Aluminum Foil

These are some of the frequently asked questions on used aluminum foil and its safety for your info.

Can You Recycle Used Aluminum Foil?

Yes, you can. From the above examples, the used aluminum foil is given a second life. In fact, aluminum foil is dishwasher safe so you should reuse it more than once as aluminum foil is bad for the environment.

Is Aluminum Foil Recyclable?

As long as the used aluminum foil has been cleaned, yes, aluminum foil is recyclable. Aluminum foil is not biodegradable and contaminated aluminum foil cannot be recycled. So, before you throw or decide to repurpose the aluminum foil, please clean it first.

What is Aluminum Foil Made of?

Aluminum foil is a shiny 98.5% aluminum metal sheet that is paper-thin. Household aluminum foil is made by rolling a large slab of aluminum metal between pairs of polished steel rollers until it is about 0.0005 inches thick.

Is Aluminum Foil Safe?

Based on this report on USA Today, the use of aluminum foil in cooking is considered safe. It can increase your aluminum content marginally as your body absorbs less than 1% of the background aluminum in the foil. It is marginal and it is not necessary to remove the aluminum foil from your cooking.

Is Cooking With Aluminum Foil Dangerous?

As explained above, it is considered safe but if you are concerned even with the low absorption level, then use low heat when you cook with aluminum foil.

Also, use the shiny side facing the food. Likewise, if you cook food that is wrapped or covered with aluminum foil, use the shining side and not the dull side to face the food.

Is It Safe to Put Aluminum Foil In The Microwave?

As reported in this Reuters article, it is not safe to put food covered in aluminum foil in the microwave.

The electric and microwave fields cause charges to flow through the aluminum foil, which then heats it up and can ignite.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Mazlan A


Bob Davis from Thornhill, Ontario, Canada on September 26, 2016:

Thanks for sharing your blog. You have displayed different uses of aluminum foils. Yes because of flexibility, good conductor of heat and more aluminum foils can be used for different purpose. Keep your blog sharing with new aluminum updates.

Mazlan A (author) from Malaysia on June 27, 2012:

Thanks Simone for the kind words.

Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on June 26, 2012:

This is so cool! I had no idea that aluminum foil had so many uses when it came to getting things clean. Thanks for all the tips!

Mazlan A (author) from Malaysia on June 24, 2012:

@CassyLu1981 , @Om and @leah. Thank you all for the visits and leaving great comments and sharing your own personal experience using aluminum foil. Leah, I read about removing tarnish from silver, but I dare not 'tried and tested' this, in case it failed and get myself into a big problem with the misses!

Leah Lefler from Western New York on June 22, 2012:

What interesting ideas! We used aluminum foil for our cats and it worked - I think they can't stand the feel of it on their feet and so they left it alone. We also placed some on our couch to keep them off the cushions. It is great to know that the foil really will sharpen scissors!

I've used aluminum foil with hot water and baking soda to remove tarnish from silver. The aluminum acts as a catalyst in the process.

Om Paramapoonya on June 22, 2012:

Wow, I had never thought aluminum foil could be so versatilely useful. I'll try using it to sharpen my scissors today!

CassyLu1981 from Spring Lake, NC on June 22, 2012:

Excellent ideas! I've used aluminum foil on my glass pans when I didn't have an SOS pad and it worked too, I thought it would scratch the glass but it didn't :) I will be trying the sharpen scissors one shortly. I have so many dull scissors!!! Great read! Voted up and shared :)

Mazlan A (author) from Malaysia on June 21, 2012:

@Becky Katz , thanks for sharing these alternative ideas. I will definitely try the waxed paper for the iron.

Mazlan A (author) from Malaysia on June 21, 2012:

@brsmom68. We used to do that as well but now all used aluminum foils will go into the drawer for future reuse. Thanks for coming over and leaving wonderful comments. Thanks also for the votes!

Mazlan A (author) from Malaysia on June 21, 2012:

@teaches12345. Yeah surprisingly aluminum foil can help sharpen dull scissors. Thank you for your kind comment & vote. I always enjoy hearing from you!

Mazlan A (author) from Malaysia on June 21, 2012:

@PenHitsTheFan, that's a good one. Hahaha, but how do I 'tried and tested' this?

Becky Katz from Hereford, AZ on June 20, 2012:

I have scissors sharpeners and they work well. The can opener sharpener also works well. I use waxed paper to clean the iron and it works. Just put it on the ironing board with an old piece of cloth under it and iron, wiping it onto the cloth.

Diane Ziomek from Alberta, Canada on June 20, 2012:

I am quick to throw foil away after a meal; I will think twice before I toss the next piece in the trash. I will be trying it on a few pairs of scissors - they always seem to end up dull for one reason or another.

I must say, I like the fact you tried some of the tricks you learned about. It shows thought and genuine experimentation on your part.

Voted up and useful!

Dianna Mendez on June 20, 2012:

Great hub and suggestions for using foil. I need to sharpen my scissors so I will try the idea. Thanks for posting this helpful hub. Voted up and useful.

Amy L. Tarr from Home on June 20, 2012:

You forgot keep aliens from reading our thoughts. j/k

Seriously though, that's good to know that you can sharpen scissors with foil. I know I have a few dull ones laying around the house.

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