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Bright Ideas · 10 Unexpected Uses for Steel Wool
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10 Unexpected Uses for Steel Wool

When we first moved into our studio, an old house built in 1939, it needed of a LOT of TLC.

One of the first projects we tackled was restoring a big cast iron stove, and I don’t know how we would have gotten rid of all the rust without steel wool! Those pads of coarse steel wool were anti-rust champions! After seeing the fantastic results from my scrubbing, I had to see what else I could do with steel wool.

What Is Steel Wool?

Steel wool is made from thin threads of low-carbon steel, which are gathered together into a ball. It makes a useful abrasive, and is often used to refinish furniture, scrape off old paint, and even in the kitchen in the form of a steel wool soap pad. But those are by no means its only uses! Steel wool makes an inexpensive and effective workhorse inside and outside of your home.

One of our first projects was restoring our wood stove, and I don’t know what we would have done without steel wool to remove all the rust! After seeing the amazing results, I had to see what else I could do with steel wool.

In addition to removing rust, here are ten other handy uses for steel wool pads:

  • To sharpen your scissors, cut through a piece of fine steel wool a few times. It’s amazingly effective, and you won’t believe what a big difference it makes!

  • Clean your shoes by rubbing a wet piece of steel wool on any dirty rubber. (I have used magic erasers for this in the past, but the steel wool worked much more quickly!)

  • It’s is excellent for sanding. More malleable than sandpaper, but still abrasive enough for a wood surface, fine grade steel wool is more comfortable to hold and molds more readily around awkward shapes. You can also use finer-grade pads for burnishing.

  • Tighten a loose screw by winding a little super-fine steel wool around the threads of the screw before putting it back into the hole. The steel wool will tighten it up and keep the screw in place.

  • To remove crayon wax from the wall, gently rub steel wool over the area and the crayon will rub right off! The same method will work for cleaning heel scuff marks on vinyl floors.

  • If you have a problem with mice, stick a bit of steel wool in nooks and crannies that a mouse could fit through. They can’t chew through the steel wool and will abandon the area.

  • Before giving your dog a bath or doing the dishes, stick a small piece of steel wool around the drain. Soapy water will go right through, but everything else will stay behind for you to clean up afterward quickly. 
  • It’s great for cleaning pots and pans, especially those heavy-duty stainless steel pans that get grease and grime stains all over them!

  • Use a little bit of grease-cutting dish soap to scrub surface rust off your car’s chrome rims. They’ll be grime-free and shiny in no time! (If you’re planning to use steel wool to clean another metal surface, test one of the pads out on a section of the material you would like to clean. The best is fine grade steel wool).

  • You can use a 9-volt battery and some steel wool to spark a fire! It’s a great item to have in your emergency kit.

Steel Wool Notes:

  • Remember always to wear gloves when working with steel wool so that the fibers don’t stick into your skin. And keep in mind the fibers can make a bit of a mess if you’re not careful. 
  • Steel wool is similar to sandpaper in that the larger the grain, the more abrasive it will be. For scraping, use large grain steel wool. For polishing, buffing, and delicate finishes, use small grain.

How do you use steel wool?


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    Hi, I’m Jillee!

    I believe we should all love the place we call home and the life we live there. Since 2011, I’ve been dedicated to making One Good Thing by Jillee a reliable and trustworthy resource for modern homemakers navigating the everyday challenges of running a household. Join me as I share homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make life easier so you can enjoy it more!

    Every day I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

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