Using aluminum foil in the dishwasher – the expert trick behind spotless flatware

This hack is the solution to stubborn stains and shiny silver – and experts love its simplicity

Small kitchen painted blue with integrated appliances
(Image credit: deVOL)

Dishwashers have changed how we care for our flatware – thanks to their seamless and spotless cleaning qualities. Though, despite all their assets, it is possible to accentuate their abilities further with one simple tool: aluminum foil. 

While knowing how to clean a dishwasher is one way to ensure your cutlery is as spotless as possible, experts are using aluminum foil in the dishwasher as a way to remove any stubborn build-up and leave your cutlery and utensils looking as good as new. And while this kitchen idea may seem unconventional – and even somewhat harmful – it is entirely trusted by experts. Here's what you need to know before following suit.  

Using aluminum foil in the dishwasher – what you need to know

intergrated wooden dishwasher with an open door

(Image credit: Future / David Parmiter)

'The first thing that comes to mind when people come up with 'cleaning hacks' is 'will this damage anything' as there are plenty of cleaning hacks or appliances hacks around that can actually cause damage,' says expert Adam Morris from Appliances Made Simple. 'However, in this instance, adding a ball of aluminum foil to your dishwasher causes no harm and, in fact, does an excellent job.  

According to Adam, using aluminum foil in the dishwasher will help remove some scratches on your silverware and some stains that are hard to remove. Here's what the process involves. 

What is the aluminum foil trick?

This trick simply involves scrunching your aluminum foil into a ball and placing it in your dishwasher. Many people put it in their utensil baskets alongside their knives, forks, and spoons.

'The aluminum will help to remove any build-up on your flatware and leave it looking like new. Plus, it's a great way to eliminate any water spots that may have formed,' says  Brittany Kline from The Savvy Kitchen. If only all cleaning tips were this simple and efficient. 

But what makes the trick so effective? The answer is in a chemical reaction that occurs when you add aluminum foil alongside your dishwasher detergent. 

'The foil is not scrubbing the utensils, as some might believe. The aluminum in the foil oxidizes with the detergents in the dishwasher soap. This oxidation helps to remove tarnish stains on your silverware,' says Maegan and Stefan Bucur from Rhythm of the Home

Open dishwasher in cabinet

(Image credit: Future Publishing Ltd Photograph: Richard Gadsby)

Is it safe to put aluminum foil in a dishwasher?

Yes, it's entirely safe to put aluminum foil in a dishwasher. Despite seeming unorthodox, this hack is a failsafe way to bring back a shine to your old flatware, and experts love its power. And this pantry staple's power is not limited to this appliance. 'You can also use aluminum foil to clean stubborn stains on pots and pans,' Brittany explains. 'Simply ball up a piece of foil and scrub the stain until it disappears.' 

Similarly, you can polish your silver with aluminum foil by crumpling a piece of foil and rubbing it over your silverware. 'This will help remove any tarnish that has built up,' she adds. 

When wondering how to unclog a dishwasher, you will sadly have to look for a solution beyond aluminum. However, there is no denying that this product has benefits in the appliance and beyond. 

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.