10 Unexpected Uses for Steel Wool

10 Handy 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.

10 Handy Uses for 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:

10 Handy Uses for Steel Wool

  • 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!

10 Handy Uses for Steel Wool

  • 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!)

10 Handy Uses for Steel Wool

  • 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.

10 Handy Uses for Steel Wool

  • 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.

10 Handy Uses for Steel Wool

  • 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.

10 Handy Uses for Steel Wool

  • 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.

10 Handy Uses for Steel Wool

  • 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!

10 Handy Uses for Steel Wool

  • 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).

10 Handy Uses for 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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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


Bright Ideas

  • Use 00steel wool and window cleaner or water on your windshield to remove tree sap and other gunk that’s built up over time. It’s especially good to do before and after winter!

  • I also have been using steel wool to fill holes to deter mice. We realized the mice were coming in through a gap in the back of my pantry wall. Yay, no more mouse droppings. I also put all food in sturdy new plastic containers. It takes time to reorganize the pantry, but so worth it.

    • I use glass canisters with rubber seals which I usually pick up at garage sales, thrift stores, estate sales, etc. Won’t be all uniform but will do the job

  • To keep the critters out, stuff copper wool in holes around pipe, etc. It does not rust and create a stain.

    Never leave wet steel wool on a good surface, but in an open plastic container like 1/2 of a plastic milk jug or you will rust on your sink, et.

    For extra clean auto glass, us 0000 steel wool. Go to youtube to see a good video on this hack. It does not scratch glass. It is what car detailers use.

  • Steel wool was the “go to” item for many years in most households. It’s good that your ideas are not only rejuvenating the ideas but passing them on. Most people forget about steel wool these days.
    Re the mouse hole: my son came up with this idea that works really well. If you use expanding foam along with the steel wool you will also be sealing up a hole that otherwise will open to the outside. Works great and for an extra step if you dab a bit of paint over it all it will keep the whole thing going for years.’

      • LOL they make a foam sealer that is allegedly rodent PROOF–however the ones at our rural location must be deprived because they thought it was Mouse Crack. Adding the steel or copper wool might do the trick tho! You can also fix holes in wood (rotted or chewed) with epoxy mixes—see THIS OLD HOUSE for a tutorial.

  • Hey! I have one that you might not have heard before. I went to youtube and typed in…how to: super clean your windshield. Scary thought for me but it really seems to work.

  • A number of years ago I bought for my mother an automatic rotary ironing machine . After some years later the roller became too hard for the ironing process and what I found the German factory used steel wool on the roller. I then replaced it but the Ma asked me to make a soft table for the ironing board and it worked excellently.

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