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What is the aluminum foil trick?

The aluminum foil trick refers to a simple hack that involves using aluminum foil to fix various problems around the house. Aluminum foil is incredibly versatile and can be molded, shaped, and used in many surprising ways. From cleaning to cooking to gardening, aluminum foil can help make difficult tasks much easier. Read on to learn all about how to use aluminum foil to make your life easier with this clever aluminum foil trick.

What are some common uses for aluminum foil?

Before diving into the specific aluminum foil trick, it’s helpful to understand the many uses of aluminum foil in general. Here are some of the most common ways that people use aluminum foil around the home:

  • Cooking – Line pans and dishes with foil for easier cleanup. Wrap foods in foil packets for grilling or baking. Cover leftovers before refrigerating.
  • Cleaning – Use balled up foil to scrub pots and pans. Clean chrome fixtures by rubbing with foil and vinegar. Polish chrome with foil, vinegar, and baking soda.
  • Organizing – Use foil to cover shelves, drawers, and baskets. Mould foil around items to keep organized in drawers.
  • Insulating – Insulate windows by covering with foil during cold months. Wrap pipes with foil to prevent freezing.
  • Gardening – Deter rodents from yards and gardens by placing foil mulch around plants. Scare away birds from fruit trees by hanging foil strips.
  • Crafting – Use foil for origami sculptures. Create jewelry, garlands, wreaths, and other decorative crafts from foil.

As you can see, aluminum foil has a very wide range of uses throughout the home. It is versatile, moldable, reflective, insulating, and strong enough to scrub dirty pots. These characteristics are what make the aluminum foil trick possible.

What is the aluminum foil trick?

The aluminum foil trick refers to using a ball of aluminum foil to polish and remove corrosion from metal surfaces. This trick works through a chemical reaction between the foil and the metal corrosion. Here is a step-by-step explanation of how to do the aluminum foil trick:

  1. Start by tearing off a piece of aluminum foil approximately 15cm x 30cm. Make sure it is flat and smooth without any wrinkles.
  2. Tightly crumple the foil lengthwise into a long thin rod shape. Then roll this rod of foil tightly into a ball shape.
  3. Scrub the balled up aluminum foil back and forth over the rusted or corroded area. Apply moderate pressure as you scrub.
  4. The friction from the scrubbing causes the foil to oxidize. This oxidation then reacts with the corrosion on the metal surface to convert it back to metal.
  5. Continue scrubbing with the foil ball until all traces of corrosion have been removed. Add a drop of vinegar for more scrubbing power if needed.
  6. Once the corrosion is removed, wipe the area with a clean damp cloth. Dry thoroughly. Apply touch up paint if needed to prevent future corrosion.

That’s all there is to the aluminum foil trick! The science behind it is the oxidation that occurs when you scrub with the balled up foil. This oxidation converts the corroded metal back to its original state. It works on many different metals including stainless steel, chrome, copper, brass, and more. The versatility and chemical properties of aluminum foil make it the ideal material for removing ugly metal corrosion.

What are the benefits of using this aluminum foil trick?

There are many great benefits to using aluminum foil to remove corrosion and polish metal surfaces including:

  • All natural – No harsh chemicals needed! Just plain aluminum foil from your kitchen.
  • Saves money – Foil is an inexpensive alternative to commercial metal polishes and cleaners.
  • Convenient – Foil is easily accessible in any home kitchen.
  • Works quickly – Removes corrosion with just a little scrubbing.
  • Easy to use – Just ball up the foil and start scrubbing. No complicated steps.
  • Versatile – Works on many different types of metals and metal surfaces.
  • Good results – Polishes surface and makes metals look like new.
  • Satisfying – Fun to scrub off ugly corrosion and see beautiful metals underneath.

As you can see, this clever trick makes metal cleaning fast, easy, inexpensive and effective using an item you already have on hand. It’s the ultimate quick fix for a variety of metal surfaces including patio furniture, fixtures, appliances, wheels, grills, and more.

What types of metals can be polished with this trick?

The aluminum foil trick works well on many common household metals. Here are the types of metals and metal surfaces you can polish up using balled up aluminum foil:

Metals Items/Surfaces
Stainless Steel Appliances, sinks, tools, cutlery, appliances
Chrome Fixtures, fittings, rims, bumpers, trim
Copper Pots, pans, pipes, crafts, flooring
Brass Door handles, lighting fixtures, instruments
Aluminum Screen doors, furniture, siding, wheels
Silver Jewelry, silverware, decorative items

Test on a small inconspicuous area first when using this trick on metals you are unsure about. Avoid using on more delicate surfaces like pewter or gold leafing. The foil trick works through friction, so takes a bit of moderate scrubbing. Use caution and gentle pressure on decorative or plated metals.

Does brand of aluminum foil matter?

Any standard kitchen aluminum foil will work for the aluminum foil trick. Heavy duty thick foil is best since it is more rigid and less likely to tear while scrubbing. Well known brands like Reynolds and Kirkland are good choices that can be found in any grocery store. Avoid the super cheap generic brands of foil that are thinner and rip more easily. As long as the foil is real aluminum, any standard kitchen foil will oxidize correctly to remove the corrosion from metal.

Can you use other metals instead of aluminum foil?

Aluminum foil works best for this trick because of its specific properties. Copper, steel, tin or other metals will not provide the same effect. Here’s why aluminum is superior:

  • Aluminum oxidizes easily – This is key to the chemical reaction that removes corrosion
  • Kitchen foil is thin and pliable – Easy to form a ball for scrubbing
  • It’s affordable and accessible – Simple to find foil in any home already
  • Safe for most metal surfaces – Gentler than other metals like steel wool

Other metals like copper or steel wool would be too abrasive and harsh. Balling up tin foil would be challenging due to its stiffness. Aluminum is the perfect metal to safely remove corrosion through oxidation and light abrasive friction.

Does this work on rusty cars or paint damage?

The aluminum foil trick is not recommended for removing rust, paint or corrosion from car bodies and finishes. The scrubbing can actually damage and scratch paint, clear coat or chrome plating on vehicles. For rust removal on cars, chemical rust removers and primers specifically made for automotive use are a better option. Follow these guidelines for using aluminum foil on cars:

  • Avoid scrubbing paint, clear coat, chrome or trim – will scratch
  • Can polish unpainted metal wheels or wheel covers
  • Can remove light corrosion from chrome bumpers, mirrors, etc
  • Test on inconspicuous spot first to check for damage

For the best results on automotive surfaces, stick to dedicated auto detailing products instead of DIY aluminum foil. On unpainted metal wheels or parts, foil can work well to polish off oxidation and brake dust build up.

What are some examples of using this trick?

Here are some specific examples of how the aluminum foil trick can restore metals around your home:

Stainless Steel Appliances

Fridges, ovens and other appliances prone to fingerprints and smears. Gently polish away grease and dirt with balled up foil.

Chrome Fixtures

Bathroom and kitchen fixtures with hard water spots and calcium buildup. Scrub fixtures to revive chrome shine.

Copper Cookware

Pots and pans with exterior discoloration from oxidation. Use foil to remove dark spots and restore bright copper.

Brass Door Hardware

Doorknobs, handles and locks tarnished from use. Foil will remove oxidation and restore luster.

Aluminum Wheels

Bikes, trailers and wheelbarrows with brake dust and mud buildup on unpainted aluminum wheels. Scrub clean.

Silver Jewelry

Rings, chains and other everyday silver jewelry that has become tarnished and needs polishing. Gently rub with foil.

Tips for the best results

Follow these tips when using the aluminum foil ball trick for optimal results:

  • Use heavy duty foil – it holds up better to scrubbing
  • Make the foil ball very tightly compacted
  • Always scrub back and forth – friction causes oxidation
  • Start gently and increase pressure as needed
  • Aim for 8-10 minutes of scrubbing per area
  • Re-ball the foil frequently as it wears down
  • Add a drop of vinegar or lemon juice to amplify results
  • Finish by wiping clean with a damp cloth

Don’t expect the aluminum foil to completely restore badly corroded metals with deep pitting damage. But for general surface corrosion, tarnish, oxidation and everyday grime, it works remarkably well to renew and polish the metal.

Caution when using this aluminum foil trick

While generally safe for most applications, there are a few cautions to keep in mind when using aluminum foil on metals:

  • Test on a small hidden area first to check for any damage
  • Use gentle pressure and caution on more delicate metals
  • Avoid using on etched, engraved, patina or plated finishes
  • Don’t use on wood, plastic, tile or any non-metal surfaces
  • Not suitable for antiques, valuables or museum artifacts
  • Can leave gray aluminum residue – wipe clean after polishing

It’s also important to realize aluminum foil should only remove light surface corrosion and restore the existing finish. Refinishing stripped metals or applying new protective coatings will require additional work.


The ingenious aluminum foil trick is a quick, convenient way to clean and polish tarnished metals throughout your home. With just basic aluminum foil from your kitchen, you can banish ugly oxidation, corrosion, hard water stains, brake dust and more. It saves money over commercial metal polishes while providing great results through the chemical reaction of aluminum oxidizing as you scrub. Understanding the science and proper technique is key to successfully using this clever aluminum foil hack. Give it a try and bring new life to worn fixtures, hardware, appliances, cookware and other metals.