Unexpected uses for aluminum foil

If you open the drawer to nearly any kitchen counter, chances are you'll find aluminum foil, since it's a staple product for anyone who prepares meals, wraps leftovers, or bakes in their oven. But you'd be wrong if you think that this thin sheet of metal is only good for your meal preps and your uneaten dinner: it's an all-purpose tool that can assist with things you'd never even think of, from the obvious to the unusual. 

So the next time you think about balling up your aluminum foil and throwing it straight into your garbage, give it a second chance. Aluminum foil is by far the least expensive handy tool that gets the most amount of work done throughout your home! Curious to see what else aluminum foil can do for you? Try any of these unexpected tin foil hacks and prepare to be amazed at just how much of a secret superhero this product is.

Clean your dirty dishes

I absolutely love to cook, but cannot stand to deal with the mess it causes when the meal is over. Cleaning out dirty dishes is often time-consuming and labor intensive, especially if you've made something like lasagna, chicken parmesan, or a yummy baked dessert. Sure, you can spend a half hour soaking your pan and trying to scrub burnt pieces of food (without making much progress). Or, you can simply use a sheet of aluminum foil to do the work for you.

While you'll still have to get your pan into the sink with some soap and water, you can completely eliminate your sponge. Instead, loosely crumple a sheet of aluminum foil, being careful that you don't crumple it into a ball completely. Scrub your burnt corners, grease, and grime clean off — all without even harming your beloved Pyrex! 

Polish your tarnished silver

I have beautiful silver that belonged to my grandparents, but as lovely as I may think they look, they could definitely use some TLC. Years of tarnish can make old silver look dingy, when in reality they could look sparkling new in just minutes using — you guessed it — aluminum foil. Using only water, baking soda, and aluminum foil, you'll be able to bring tarnished silver back to life in no time.

Bring a pot of water to a boil with a sheet of aluminum foil and, once the water has reached boiling temperatures, add in baking soda. Then add in the silver you'd like refurbished. Within seconds, you'll be able to see an immediate difference and after just one minute, your silver will look like new!

Use it in place of dryer sheets to eliminate static

I'm an avid user of dryer sheets, but sometimes they can cause more harm than good: sometimes residue is left behind (and onto my beloved clothes), and there have been a handful of times where I'll be folding laundry and can't seem to find the dryer sheet, only to realize it was stuck to some item of clothing when I take it out to wear. But the alternative is no good, either: without dryer sheets, clothes can become static and an absolute pain to deal with (unless you like getting a small electric shock from your blouse!).

According to a reader tip from Apartment Therapy (via Lifehacker), the most effective way to ensure a static-free laundry load is aluminum foil, of course. "I've completely eliminated the need for dryer sheets. I was a firm lover of these 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 been using the same aluminum foil ball for over 6 months," said reader Aprilheartsaaron. 

"The aluminum foil balls I use are approximately 2-3 inches in diameter… tightly rolled. I use 2 or 3 of them with heavier loads or with large blankets/comforters." I don't know about you, but the next time I head to put my wet laundry in the dryer, I'm totally trying this!

Sharpen your dull scissors

Anyone who crafts or uses scissors to open packages and plastic packets knows the sharper the blades the better. A dull pair of scissors can make even the simplest task frustrating, having to repeatedly cut the same spot until a teeny bit of give finally allows you to cut through whatever you need it to. Instead of throwing your pair of scissors out, use this aluminum foil hack to sharpen your scissors back to store quality.

Take a sheet of aluminum foil, and fold it multiple times. Take your scissors, and start cutting long, thin strips into the aluminum foil, until you've cut the entire sheet. Simply wipe off your scissors to clean away any residue, and you're scissors are guaranteed to cut as well as the day when you first brought them home. I was a bit skeptical of this hack, but I tried it — and it really does work! So don't ditch your old scissors, just use this tin foil trick and save your money.

Use it as a photography backdrop

As someone who owns a professional camera, it can be difficult finding the perfect backdrop for a subject, whether it's a person, a pet, or a product. You want to make sure it's clean, but not boring; fun, without stealing attention from your focal point. The best backdrop is out of focus, with a little sparkle (called "bokeh" in the photography community), but getting the settings right on your camera can sometimes be hard to achieve that look. That's where aluminum foil comes in.

Take a sheet of aluminum foil and crumple it — not into a ball, but just enough that you start seeing lines covering the sheet. Then lay it flat, being careful not to smooth it out completely. The more texture, the better! Tape it to a wall, or any flat object that's a good distance away from your subject. All it takes is a little bit of patience with your camera, and you'll be creating a bokeh background in no time!

Protect your pie crust

Baking a pie is an effort unto itself, so when it comes out of the oven looking less-than-perfect, it can feel frustrating — and with good reason! You spent a lot of time working on a classic dessert, only to have your crust completely over-baked. You could go to the store and invest in a pie shield, or you can stay right in your home and whip out the aluminum foil to make one yourself as illustrated by Snapguide.

Tear a sheet large enough to fit over your entire pie, then fold in half, then in half again. Fold once more so that your aluminum foil square is now a triangle, then once more, still resembling a triangle. Place your aluminum triangle on your pie plate, and cut the foil anywhere after the crust ends, making what is essentially a large aluminum circle. Place the circle over your pie crust before placing it in the oven, and bake your pie without having to worry that your crust will burn!

Move heavy furniture

There are very few people who can lift heavy furniture with the greatest of ease. Often times, it takes a few people, furniture sliders, and sometimes a hand-truck to get furniture like dressers, entertainment stands, and desks from one room to another.

Instead of straining your back (and maybe even losing a bit of sanity if the item needs to go at the complete opposite end of your home), check out LifeHacker's tip to use aluminum foil to ease the process of heavy moving. Grab your foil and stick it underneath the legs of whatever furniture you're trying to move, ensuring that the shiny side is facing upwards. Drag it across your carpet, and you should have your furniture exactly where it needs to be in no time.

Cover door handles while painting

Painting the walls of your house can be a chore, but it's not as awful as realizing you got paint on places that aren't your walls, like the door handle to your kitchen or the hardware to your bathroom sink. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars for a professional to come in and avoid these messy mistakes, using aluminum foil to cover and protect fixtures will save you money and the frustration of cleaning up unwanted paint spills.

According to Real Simple, wrapping aluminum foil around any hardware that you're afraid will get ruined with paint when putting a new color on your walls is quick and cheap. Simply mold the foil the your hardware to ensure a good fit and paint around the hardware. The aluminum foil will catch any paint that may drip downwards and won't fall off until you manually remove it, ensuring an avoidance of any painting issues.

Cut your ironing time in half

If there's any household chore that's worse than cleaning dirty dishes, it's probably ironing clothes. It takes a ton of time and effort — and for some reason I still find lines in my clothes anyway. But there's a trick that cuts your ironing time completely in half using aluminum foil, making this boring chore take up less of your day so that you can get back to doing something you actually enjoy.

A woman submitted a video to The Dr. Oz Show that showed how an ironing hack turned her 15-minute ironing debacle turn into just three minutes of ironing ease. All it takes is a sheet of aluminum foil, shiny side up, on the top of your ironing board. Place your ironing board pad over the aluminum foil, and iron as usual. The aluminum foil will help get rid of wrinkles and lines in minutes flat, meaning there won't be any excuse for getting to work late any more.

Curl your hair

I have mostly straight hair, but I spend countless hours each week curling it or waving it because I love when hair has a little body. But sometimes I wonder what all the heat and chemicals are doing to my hair and wish that there was a safer, simpler solution to getting salon-style curls without having to bombard my head with beauty products. When I heard that there was a hack involving aluminum foil to curl your hair, I was immediately intrigued.

YouTuber MileeMilanii demonstrates how to get gorgeous curls with tinfoil, starting with cutting large or small strips, depending on how big of a curl you're looking for. Then, crush the strip to form a rod and curl strands of hair around the rod. When you're done curling your hair around the rod, roll it up and take the two ends of the rod and form a broken circle, ensuring that your hair won't fall out. Put a beauty cap over your head and sleep on it, and when you wake up and uncurl your hair from the foil, you will have perfectly-formed curls!