How to use aluminum foil in your dishwasher – for spotless glassware and cutlery

Incorporating tin foil into your dishwasher routine is a cost-effective, environmentally friendly, and highly effective hack that ensures your items emerge spotless after every wash

Dishwasher in kitchen-dining room
(Image credit: Quiet Mark)

The experts have spoken – using aluminum foil in the dishwasher is the new trick that is revolutionizing the way people revitalize dull cutlery and dingy glasses. While using aluminum foil in a dishwasher may seem unconventional, we're going to take it from the king of all things homes and interiors, Queer Eye's Bobby Berk, who shows us that upping your cleaning game can be as simple as using this household product in your regular dishwasher cycle.

Although knowing how to clean a dishwasher is one way to ensure your cutlery, glasses, and dishes are as spotless as possible, experts are using aluminum foil in the dishwasher as a way to remove any stubborn build-up and leave your items looking as good as new. This simple, cost-effective method leverages basic chemistry to enhance your dishwasher’s performance and leave its contents sparkling clean.

Though this kitchen idea may seem unorthodox – and even somewhat harmful – it is entirely trusted by experts. If only all cleaning tips were this simple and efficient. 

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

Here's what you need to know before following suit.

How it works

Tin foil on a counter

(Image credit: Getty Images / StockImages_AT)

As simple as this trick is to implement, the way it works in a dishwasher to ensure it's contents are clean is surprisingly complex, which bodes well in terms of its effectiveness. These are the three reasons this hack works so well: 

1. Chemical reactions:  Aluminum in the foil oxidizes with the detergents in the dishwasher soap. This oxidation helps to remove tarnish stains on your silverware. 

'This reaction boosts the overall effectiveness of the washing process,' says Jasmine Peterson, nutritionist and writer at Next Luxury. 'As a result, the detergent can work more efficiently, leading to cleaner dishes without those pesky spots.'

2. Improves water circulation and distribution in the dishwasher: Aluminum foil can also help regulate water flow within the dishwasher, resulting in greater overall cleaning performance. 'Hard water, which contains high levels of calcium and magnesium, often leaves residue and water spots on dishes after a wash cycle. The aluminum from the foil reacts with these minerals, particularly the alkaline components, helping to soften the water,' explains Jasmine. 

By strategically placing the foil, you can redirect water to ensure a more thorough rinse cycle, resulting in cleaner dishes.

3. Prevents corrosion: Finally, the foil can serve as a barrier against rust and corrosion. Placing it underneath metal items such as pots, pans, and utensils can prevent them from coming into direct contact with the dishwasher's metal interior, thus prolonging their lifespan and maintaining their pristine condition.

How to use the foil in your dishwasher

'For best results, just roll a small piece of tin foil into a ball and place it in the cutlery basket or somewhere it won’t obstruct the spray arms,' advises Jasmine Peterson. You can also follow Bobby's lead (below) and crumple it while keeping it mostly flat. 'This ensures it stays in place during the wash cycle and maximizes its interaction with the water and detergent,' adds Jasmine.

However, it's important to ensure that the foil is properly crumpled or folded to avoid any potential damage to sensitive goods or the dishwasher itself.

Is it safe to put aluminum foil In a dishwasher?

An open dishwasher in a kitchen

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The answer is yes, it's entirely safe to put aluminum foil in a dishwasher.

'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.' 

The benefits of using aluminium foil

Mid grey kitchen with wood floor and brown tiled backsplash

(Image credit: Shannon Tate Interiors)

Using tin foil as a dishwasher hack is not only a cost-effective way to ensure all your dishwasher's contents come out clean, but this method is also eco-friendly. This is because it reduces the need for harsh chemical detergents and excessive water usage, making this an excellent way to be more sustainable at home and reduce consumption by making your dishwasher a more energy-efficient appliance.

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 Kline from The Savvy Kitchen explains. 'Simply ball up a piece of foil and scrub the stain until it disappears.' 

Similarly, you can polish your flatware in seconds with aluminum foil by placing it into a container lined with aluminum foil and combining hot water, baking soda, and salt to soak your flatware for thirty seconds, and hey presto! You've removed tarnish and restored shine to silverware that easily.

Reynolds Wrap Aluminum Foil |

Reynolds Wrap Aluminum Foil | $21.92 from Amazon
Why not bulk buy your aluminum roll, since it's the perfect addition to the ultimate cleaning supply list

At 200 square feet each, purchasing this pack of two rolls ensures that whether you are wrapping up leftovers or adding it to your dishwasher, you won't run out of aluminum foil any time soon.

Including aluminum foil in your dishwasher routine can be a simple yet efficient way to achieve immaculate results with each wash cycle. 

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.

With contributions from