Aluminum foil is certainly a kitchen staple — but it can do more than just cut down on cooking messes! The shiny silver sheets are quite versatile and can make many tasks around the house so much easier. We’ve rounded up the best 16 uses for aluminum foil, from gardening, cleaning, pet-proofing and more, to tackle some of the most pesky problems that come your way.
1. Aluminum foil prolongs the life of bananas
Bananas always end up spoiling before we get a chance to enjoy them! To keep them fresh longer, wrap the stem of the bunch in aluminum foil as soon as you bring them home. The foil keeps the ethylene gas (which promotes ripening) from reaching the rest of the fruit. (When your bananas do ripen, click through for 11 delicious banana bread recipes.)
2. It makes it easy to move furniture
Your plan for rearranging the living room is perfect — and you can make easy work of the task with the help of aluminum foil. “If you don’t have slider pads to put under your couch, table, desk or piano, get a sheet of aluminum foil and fold it up a few times,” says Nick Valentino, vice president of market operations of moving company Bellhop. “The smooth metal surface will reduce friction, and aluminum is soft enough that it won’t scratch the floors as long as you lay a flat, folded piece down.”
3. It makes makes light work of cleaning a fireplace
Cuddling by a fire is so cozy, but cleaning out the ashes afterward is a chore. A way to make cleanup a breeze: Before you light a fire, place a double layer of aluminum foil on the floor of the fireplace. The next day, when the ashes are completely cool, fold the foil and toss. The heat-safe foil collects ashes so there’s nothing for you to sweep up. (Click through for 3 fireplace-cleaning mistakes to avoid.)
4. Aluminum foil outsmarts a too-loose battery
If you find that your television remote is working only intermittently, one of the springs in the battery compartment may have lost its tension and is no longer keeping the battery sitting securely. The save: “Fold a small piece of aluminum foil several times into a square or rectangle and place it between the battery and the contact point to improve the connection,” says Lucy Fernando, home improvement expert and handyman coordinator at Fantastic Services. The foil fills in the extra space while also maintaining the circuit.
5. It removes grime from dirty dishes
Everyone loves your baked ziti, but you rarely make it because it’s so hard to scrub the cooked-on bits from the dish! The fix: Roll a piece of aluminum foil into a loose wad and use it to scrub the dish. The rough edges of the foil scrape away stubborn gunk and grime, leaving your dish spotless. (This isn’t recommended on nonstick dishes.)
6. Aluminum foil pet-proofs surfaces
Fluffy’s nocturnal instincts mean she’s usually prowling around at night — often on your kitchen counters. “You can use aluminum foil as a temporary deterrent,” shares Jonathan Berenson, owner of Two Tails Pet Company. “Simply cover the surface with aluminum foil, and the texture and sound it creates when touched can discourage your pet from jumping up.” You can also wrap foil around electrical cords to create a barrier that discourages puppies and cats from chewing them!
7. Aluminum foil ensures mess-free brownies
Your brownies were ooey-gooey good, but they stuck to the pan and made a sticky mess. Next time, line the pan with two long layers of foil that hang over the sides. Spray foil with cooking spray. Once baked, lift the foil with the brownies out of the pan, cut and enjoy! Need a new brownie recipe? (Click through to our sister site for 5 incredible brownie recipes.)
8. It allows you to iron in half the time
Ugh! The shirt you were going to wear today is wrinkled and you’re in a rush. To speed the ironing process, place a sheet of aluminum foil under your ironing board cover. The foil will reflect heat from the iron back to the article of clothing, smoothing out wrinkles more quickly. Hate ironing? (Click through for the no-iron secret to wrinkle-free clothing.)
9. It restores shine to tarnished silver
Dull silver? Place it in a foil-lined pan filled with 4 cups of boiling water and 1⁄4 cup of baking soda. Soak for 5 minutes; rinse. The chemical reaction of aluminum and baking soda causes the silver’s tarnish to break down.
10. Aluminum foil stops a paint brush from drying out
You finished the first coat of paint in your kitchen but can’t do the second coat until morning—and you’d rather not go through the hassle of washing the paintbrush. To prevent it from hardening overnight, blot excess paint from the bristles, then wrap them tightly in aluminum foil and secure with a rubber band. The foil will trap in moisture so the brush doesn’t dry before you can get back to your project. (Click through for more painting hacks.)
11. Aluminum foil blocks cold air from entering the house
To prevent the cold air from sneaking in through a wall-unit air conditioner on chilly or windy days, tape a few sheets of aluminum foil over the vents on the unit. The foil will keep the cold air from blowing into the room while also reflecting the heat already inside the house back into your space.
12. It can create a makeshift funnel
Pouring the bulk bag of sugar you picked up at the supermarket into an airtight storage container would be much easier if you had a funnel! “If you don’t have a funnel, you can make one out of a piece of aluminum foil,” explains Katrina Smith, founder of Kitchensity.com “Simply fold the foil into a cone shape and secure it with tape.” Then snip off the end, hold over the tub and pour the sugar into the wider end. It will go right into the container. Problem solved!
13. Aluminum foil protects glasses from hair dye
You like to catch up on your reading while you wait for your hair color to set, but you worry about the dye staining your glasses. The save: Wrap a piece of aluminum foil around the frames, then slip them on. The foil covers will catch any drips, ensuring your glasses stay clean. (Click through for 3 genius secrets to longer-lasting hair color.)
14. It prevents paint drips on doorknobs
Your back door is in need of a fresh coat of paint, but you don’t want to fuss with painter’s tape or removing doorknobs and other fixtures to keep them paint-free. The simple fix that saves time and money: Cover knobs with aluminum foil. It will mold perfectly to cover the fixtures to protect them from paint splatters, plus it will stay in place while you work. Once the paint is dry, you can remove the foil and toss it in the trash. So easy!
15. Aluminum foil speeds up a slow Internet
If you’re having trouble accessing the internet on your laptop or cellphone in your house, your Wi-Fi signal might be weak. What can help: aluminum foil! Simply tear off a 1-foot sheet of foil and fold all four edges in about an inch. Stand the sheet up in a curved shape behind the router. (Glue the foil to a piece of cardboard and bend if needed.) The foil will reflect the wireless signal back into the room, resulting in a stronger connection.
16. It keeps garden plants safe from pests
Lately birds have been going after the bountiful harvest in your garden. To the rescue: Aluminum foil! “If you hang a few strips in your garden, it’ll deter birds from pecking at your fruits and vegetables because the shine and their movement scare them away,” explains Petar Ivanov, gardening and plant expert at Fantastic Gardeners. Foil can also be handy to protect your greenery from slugs. Simply lay a few sheets of new or used foil around the base of your plants, piling dirt or small stones on the corners to weigh it down. The pests get a slight harmless shock when they touch metal, so they’ll steer clear.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.
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