I Put Aluminum Foil in My Dishwasher —And My Silverware Has Never Been Shinier

updated Aug 3, 2023
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

Say what you will about social media (and, trust me, I have just as much to say as anyone), but it’s surprising how many cleaning and organizing tips and tricks I’ve learned from TikTok and Instagram. Whether its a using dishwasher tabs for cleaning or organizing hacks for better storage, these platforms are full of inspiration. The most recent one I’ve encountered? Aluminum foil in the dishwasher to de-tarnish your silverware.

A TikTok video from @carolina.mccauley features a super-quick tip for getting your flatware nice and shiny. I had never heard of it before, and as soon as I saw it, I knew I had to give it try. The trick: Wad up a piece of aluminum foil into a ball, and toss it straight into the flatware compartment of your dishwasher.  But does it actually work? I wanted to find out.

I didn’t think I had any issue with my flatware before I saw the video, but that TikTok hack had me itching to see what kind of a difference a ball of aluminum foil would make. Surprisingly, upon closer inspection, I realized my utensils were actually looking a little dull. (It’s amazing how much you notice when you actually look.)

So here’s how I tried the hack:

  • I put a wad of aluminum foil in the flatware compartment
  • I loaded up the dishwasher as I usually do
  • I added dishwasher detergent
  • Then, I waited to see what my flatware would look like the next morning after the dishwasher ran. 
Credit: Shifrah Combiths

My Results

When I unloaded the dishwasher, I took out a handful of utensils to take a look. And I’m happy to report that my forks, knives, and spoons, did in fact look shinier! You can see the spiffy results for yourself.

Credit: Shifrah Combiths
See? Cloudy to shiny!

How It Works

Tossing a ball of aluminum foil into the flatware caddy is such a no-fuss way to get your forks and knives gleaming. Why does it work? It’s all due to the science-y, oxidization interaction between the baking soda-like properties in dishwashing detergent and the aluminum foil.

Together, the process lifts tarnish. The technique is also a super-smart way to get more mileage out of a not-too-dirty piece of foil before you toss it out. This trick worked so well that I’m definitely going to keep doing this hack from now on!

How do you get your flatware shiny? Tell us in the comments below.