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14 Smart Uses for Steel Wool at Home (with Pictures)

Hand sanding the wooden chair with steel wool

We have likely all used steel wool at one point in our lives. When you clean your dishes and realize you don’t have a strong enough scrubber, you get the little pad of steel wool out of the corner cabinet. Then, you remember all the different uses for steel wool because this is quite a versatile product. It’s not only a scrubbing tool, but you can also use it in many ways around the house.

This article will cover a wide range of smart ways you can use steel wool daily to make your life easier.

Let’s get to it.

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The 14 Uses for Steel Wool at Home

1. Maintaining Garden Tools

If you’re using your garden tools regularly, you need to maintain them and keep them in excellent working condition. One easy way to take care of garden tools is using steel wool to remove any rust that might build up on them over time. This technique will work very well on garden tools such as shovels, hoes, and rakes.

Simply rub the steel wool over the blades to remove rust, dirt, and other debris that may be stuck on them before storing them. The abrasive nature of steel wool will help remove the rust without damaging the tool’s surface or leaving any scratches and dents. This way, your tools will look as good as new and last longer, too.

looper garden tool
Image By: Bits And Splits, Shutterstock

2. Tightening Loose Screws

A loose screw can be frustrating when you’re working on a project. You may need to stop first and look for something to fasten it such as a screwdriver or wrench. But did you know that steel wool would come in handy in tightening a loose nut or screw?

If you find it challenging to turn the screwdriver because it’s not gripping the screw properly, use some steel wool to get a better grip on the screw. Wrap some around the screwdriver’s tip before putting it back on the screw and turning it until the screw is tight again.

3. Keeping Rodents Away

Rodents like rats, mice, and squirrels chew holes in walls and foundations, searching for food sources. You can use steel wool to plug these holes and keep rodents from getting into your home.

Just push the steel wool until it blocks off the entry point. Then, cover it with a piece of duct tape. You may have to change out pieces of steel wool every few months if they become torn or damaged over time.

The steel wool will act as a deterrent, making it less likely that mice or rats will try to get inside your home. The rodents will not chew through the steel wool because of its rough texture.

Brush mouse
Image By: alexas-fotos, Pexels

4. Distressing a Paint Finish

If you have an antique or vintage piece of furniture that you want to distress, try using steel wool instead of sandpaper or other abrasives. You will achieve the same look with less damage to the surface of your furniture piece.

It works well if you want to give it a worn-out look without damaging it further than necessary. The rough texture of the steel wool will scratch the finish and create distressed marks in the paint, mimicking the look of years of wear and tear on furniture.

The technique works well on painted wood surfaces such as cabinets and pantry doors. Simply rub the surface with the steel wool in a circular motion until you achieve the desired effect.

5. Washing Windows

When washing windows, soap alone doesn’t always do the trick, especially if they’re too dirty or greasy. Steel wool is an excellent alternative to newspaper and other abrasive materials. It doesn’t leave any residue on the window panes. It also works perfectly for those hard-to-reach corners on the windows.

You can accompany the steel wool with soapy water. While it is abrasive enough to get rid of stubborn stains, it is also soft enough not to leave scratches on the windows.

cleaning car window glass
Image By: Atstock Productions, Shutterstock

6. Cleaning Charcoal Grill Grates

If you have a charcoal grill grate, you need to keep it clean after every use to keep it from getting rusty. The best time to clean your grill grate is right after cooking. If you wait until the next day, you risk burning the grease and food residue on your grill grates with hot coals.

Steel wool will do the trick. It’s an excellent abrasive material that removes grease and food residue. Use it with a little soap to scrub the grill grates clean. Be sure to wear gloves so that your hands don’t get burned by the heat or steel wool fibers.

However, do not use it on stainless steel grill grates, as it will scratch and damage them.

7. Sharpening Scissors

If you’ve ever tried to cut paper with blunt scissors, you know how frustrating it can be. The same goes for cutting fabric or string with dull scissors—it just doesn’t work well.

You can use a sharpening stone or sandpaper if needed, but the easiest way is to use steel wool. This material pulls off any nicks in your blade and adds a bit of shine at the same time. The friction between the scissor’s blades and the steel wool will create microscopic grooves in the blades, making them sharp again.

pruning scissors and camellia flower
Image Credit: Kym McLeod, Shutterstock

8. Getting Rid of Scuffs on Sneakers

Did you know that steel wool would work wonders at cleaning sneakers? You only need a bit of steel wool and toothpaste to scrub away any dirt or stains on your sneakers quickly and easily. Steel wool works better than most commercial products, and it doesn’t leave behind residue.

To do this, smear steel wool with toothpaste and rub it on the sneakers gently. The grime and dirt should come off. Then, rinse with water and let them dry. After that, your sneakers will be as good as new.

9. Cleaning the Oven

Cleaning the oven is not a task one looks up to, but it still has to be done eventually. You may have tried different cleaning techniques but still ended up with remnant stains and dirt residues. Try using steel wool instead.

The steel wool will not only clean your oven but also help you remove the tough stains that are challenging to remove. Simply sprinkle some baking soda on a piece of steel wool and use it to rub the inside of your oven. Wipe off the residue using a damp cloth.

The baked-on mess that builds up inside the oven will come off thanks to the wool’s sharp bristles. However, don’t clean the outside of the oven and the glass parts using steel wool. It may scratch these surfaces.

cleaning microwave oven
Image Credit:, Shutterstock

10. Removing Scuff Marks on the Floors

If you have children, you know that cleaning up their messes can be a real chore. Forget using sandpaper or razor blades to remove scuff marks from your flooring and use some steel wool instead. The abrasive material will remove these marks quickly and easily without damaging your floors.

Simply wet the steel wool with water and laundry detergent and scrub away the floor. Make sure that you rinse off all the soap after using it so it doesn’t leave behind residue that could cause further damage later on.

11. Removing Crayon from Wallpaper

If you have a child who likes drawing on the walls, you probably know how challenging it is to get crayons off. When you remove crayons using chemicals, it leaves behind a stain or a hole in the wallpaper. Rather than using harsh chemicals, try using steel wool. It’s safe and effective!

To get around this problem, just rub some steel wool over the area. Ensure you rub in one direction and not in circles. Then, wipe off with a damp cloth. This way, you’ll not leave any marks on the wallpaper.

little baby girl drawing with crayon color on the wall
Image Credit: KayaMe, Shutterstock

12. Starting a Fire

If you don’t have a matchbox at hand, try using steel wool for starting a fire in the fireplace or outdoor grill. You can also use it to start a fire in an emergency when matches aren’t available.

All you need is steel wool and a nine-volt battery. Fine steel wool works best. Rub the steel wool against the battery terminals. As you do this, you’ll see sparks. Now, use it to light your tinder. The steel wool will work even when damp.

13. Making a Homemade Stain

Stains color wood and give it an aged appearance. They’re popular among many homeowners these days, though they are expensive and can be challenging to use if you’re unfamiliar with them. Besides, many stains need several coats before they achieve their desired effect. Luckily, there is another option: homemade stains made from steel wool!

To prepare the stain, just put steel wool in a jar and add white vinegar to it. The vinegar removes the steel wool’s protective coating, allowing the iron in the steel wool to react with oxygen to oxidize or rust.

Then, keep out dust by covering the jar. As you do this, ensure you leave a small open gap to allow the gases created by the reaction to escape. The longer you allow the solution to soak, the darker it will be. If you need to speed up the process, use fine steel wool.

Once your stain is ready, you can now work on your wood. Brush the shade on the wood if you have achieved the one you need and allow it to dry for some time.

cleaning cloth and detergent
Image Credit: congerdesign, Pixabay

14. Finishing or Refinishing Woodwork

Have you ever tried to paint over old woodwork that has been painted many times before? If yes, you know this is virtually impossible without sanding and stripping the old paint off with chemicals or heat. But, if you opt for steel wool instead of sand, it will gently remove the old paint without damaging the underlying wood.

Steel wool is an excellent abrasive material you can use to remove dirt and grime from wood surfaces. It’s also helpful for removing paint and varnish from wood. It works best when paired with mineral spirits. Just rub lightly until all traces of paint are gone.

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Steel wool is an excellent cleaning tool for dishes and surfaces. It’s more cost-effective than paper towels and clothes. And, as seen above, there are plenty more ways to take advantage of steel wool at home. You may be tackling small home improvement projects or completing odd jobs around the house. Steel wool can make the task easier while reducing your overall expenses. With a bit of effort and imagination, steel wool can be a handy tool around the house.

So, if you’re ready to give it a go at your house, try one of the techniques listed above (or all, why not?) and see the impressive results you can get.

Featured Image Credit: Manuel Trinidad Mesa, Shutterstock


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