10 genius ways to use aluminum foil for more than just baking

Time to stock up on your new favorite kitchen staple.

Taylor Martin CNET Contributor
Taylor Martin has covered technology online for over six years. He has reviewed smartphones for Pocketnow and Android Authority and loves building stuff on his YouTube channel, MOD. He has a dangerous obsession with coffee and is afraid of free time.
Taylor Martin
4 min read

Chances are, you're not relying on aluminum foil wrapped around your TV's rabbit ears to improve your signal anymore. But that doesn't mean it has been relegated solely to kitchen duty.

Aluminum foil is something everyone has in their kitchen, and it has a very long list of uses around the house, garden, and even a campfire.

For any of these tips, regular aluminum foil is ideal -- no need for the heavy duty or light variety.

Taylor Martin/CNET

1. Improve ironing

Ironing clothes can be a pretty time-consuming process. One way to speed things up is to line your ironing board with aluminum foil. Rather than absorbing the heat and moisture, like your ironing board cover normally does, the foil will trap the heat and moisture around your garment.

Additionally, if you have an article of clothing that isn't iron-safe, such as a knit sweater, you can use this same method to steam any wrinkles out of it. Simply hover the iron about an inch or two (2.5 to 5 centimeters) over the garment and continually press the steam button.

2. Remove static from the dryer


A great alternative to dryer sheets (their static-fighting qualities, at least) is aluminum foil. Make two or three balls of aluminum foil, about two to three inches (5 to 7.6 centimeters) in diameter, and toss them in with the load of wet clothes.

The aluminum foil will help discharge any static buildup and help keep the clothes separated to speed up the drying process.

Keep in mind, however, the aluminum foil will not soften your clothes or give them a nice, floral scent.

3. Polish silverware and jewelry

If your silverware or silver jewelry is gathering unwanted tarnish, you don't need to spend money on jewelry cleaner. Simply line the inside of a small bowl with aluminum foil and fill it with warm water, 1 tablespoon of salt, 1 tablespoon of baking soda, and a teaspoon of dish detergent. Drop the jewelry in, let it sit for 10 minutes, and it should come out with a new, bright shine.

You can even use a slow cooker to get the job done.

4. Make cleanup easier

If you are about to cook something you know is going to make a huge mess, be it in the oven, toaster, or grill, line the bottom of the cooker with aluminum foil. When the job is done, remove the foil with all the mess.

You can also wrap the rack of a grill or oven with foil, but you will need to perforate it to allow air flow in many situations. Still, it's the same concept. Cleanup consists of removing the foil and throwing away the entire mess in one motion.

5. Sharpen scissors

If you're considering tossing those old, dull scissors, don't. Try folding up a sheet of aluminum five or six times and cutting it with the scissors. This should sharpen the blades and extend the life of the scissors.

6. Start a fire

If you need to start a fire in a pinch, all you need is some aluminum foil, cotton, and a AA battery.

Cut a 4-inch (10.2-centimeter) strip of aluminum foil, about a half inch (1.3 centimeters) wide. In the center of the strip, cut away foil to make a thin, two millimeter-wide strip, approximately 3/4 inches (2 centimeters) long. Wrap the thin connector in the middle with cotton, and attach each end of the foil strip to opposite ends of the AA battery. The cotton should quickly catch on fire, hopefully long enough to catch more kindling on fire.

7. Clean a grill, oven or pots and pans

If you're dealing with something that's particularly difficult to clean and you don't have any scouring sponges or steel wool, crumple up some aluminum foil and use that instead. It probably won't work as well as something that's specifically meant to scrub and clean, but it will certainly work in a pinch.

8. Curl your hair

If you need to curl your hair and all you have is a straightening iron, fear not. All you need is some aluminum foil. Simply divide your hair into half-inch (1.3 centimeter) strands, roll upward from the ends, and wrap the curl with some aluminum foil. Clamp the foil with a hot straightening iron for just a few seconds, and remove the foil.

9. Catch cooking grease

If you're frying anything that is particularly greasy, such as bacon, don't pour the grease into a bowl or cup like you normally would. Either line the bowl with aluminum foil first, or form a makeshift bowl out of foil and pour into that. This prevents you from having to deal with the cleanup of the grease, that you would otherwise put off for as long as possible. (It's OK, I do it, too.)

10. Soften brown sugar clumps

There are few things worse than starting to bake and pulling a bag of rock hard brown sugar out of the cabinet. You could whack it with a hammer or slam it onto the counter until you re-pulverize the sugar, or you could wrap the brick in a piece of aluminum foil, place it in the oven at 300 degrees F (149 degrees C) for 5 minutes. The brown sugar should be soft and easy to work with again.