10 Ways to Re-Purpose Steel Wool

April 15, 2012 One comment View all articles in Re-Use-It

Steel wool is used to polish wood and metal objects as well as to clean household cookware. These useful sponges are literally thin shavings of heavy steel wire that are coiled and bunched together. Or maybe you deduced that already. Either way, you probably have a box of these little doodads hanging out under your kitchen sink or in your woodshop. Do you know what you'll do with the used sponges once they're rusty and a bit dull? Well, after you've sanded that piece of wood or scoured that pot, look to these additional uses to keep steel wool out of our landfills for just a while longer.


Sharpen your Straight Pins: If you sew a lot, you might've noticed your straight pins get dull with repeated use. Instead of tossing the pins, just make yourself a pin cushion with steel wool in it. The steel wool will sharpen the points enough each time you store the pins that you won't ever have to buy more or throw them away!

Start a Fire: Simply touch the terminals of a 9-volt battery to a wad of steel wool to spark a campfire in a pinch.

Turn Nasty Sneakers Nice: Moisten a steel wool sponge and gently scrub away stains and stuck-on debris. You can them wipe the shoes with a damp sponge or put them in the washing machine. Now you don't have to throw away your favorite sneakers!

Clean up Crayon Marks: If your kids have used your wallpaper as a canvas for their crayon masterpieces, just take a bit of steel wool and skim the surface of the wall, moving your hand in straight motions instead of scrubbing in circles. Your walls should be good as new in no time.

Remove Heel Marks: If your vinyl kitchen or bathroom floor is suddenly covered in black marks after you've worn rubber athletic shoes around, don't stress. Just gently rub the surface with a moistened steel wool sponge. When the heel mark is gone, you can wipe the floor clean with a damp cloth.

Stymie Rodents: When you discover how those pesky mice, squirrels, and bats are making their way into your house, stuff the entry full of steel wool. It's more effective than foam or newspaper because the critters can't chew through it.

Prevent a Clog: Temporarily stuff steel wool in your bath or shower drain while you bathe your pet so no fur gets clogged. Just remember to promptly remove the steel wool afterward.

Sharpen your Scissors: Cut a steel wool sponge in half with your favorite pair of dull scissors and you'll have twice as many sponges and sharper scissor blades!

Sharpen Garden Tools: Saturate a steel wool sponge with household oil and use it to rub rust off your garden shears, loppers, shovels, or any other tool with metal parts. You can clean the tools off with a dry rag after you've sharpened the blades, and then reapply a little more oil before storing them for the winter.

De-Gloss Paint: You've gone and applied glossy paint to your walls without realizing it. Oops! Why not rub some fine grade steel wool over the surface to buff the paint?


Mondo on July 2, 2015 at 4:08 a.m.

The majority of these ideas are not good if using steel wool that is "rusty and a bit dull". They would work with new steel wool, but isn't this article about re-purposing old steel wool?

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