Introduction: 8 Life Hacks With Steel Wool

Picture of 8 Life Hacks With Steel Wool

8 Life Hacks with Steel Wool


Steel wool has been around for over 100 years and is commonly thought of as a polishing or sanding tool. But we have found several more uses for steel wool.

We have tested these ideas with success. I hope you can benefit from some of these awesome life hacks.

All of the following hacks are used with the Ultra Fine #0000 grade of steel wool.

Hacks Included:

1. Catch Animal Hair

2. Fix a Loose Screw

3. Wash your Windshield

4. Remove Black Heel Marks

5. Mice Barrier

6. Start a Fire

7. Clean old Tires

8. Clean Sneakers


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Lifehacks are great techniques, tricks, shortcuts, or novelty ways to reuse, repurpose, recycle, and upcycle certain products in uncommon ways to make life easier.

Use of content for personal projects is at your own risk. We are not responsible for any damages that could occur.


Step 1: Catch Animal Hair

Picture of Catch Animal Hair

Catch Animal Hair

If you have a dog or cat, there is a good chance a bunch of hair will go down the drain the next time you wash them.

This is an easy fix if you have some steel wool.

If you unroll a piece of wool and roll it back up long ways, you can now wrap it around your drain.

The fine mesh of fibers will allow the water to pass by, but it will catch the animal hair.

This will help to keep your drain free flowing.

When you are done, just gather the steel wool and hair and toss in the trash.

Step 2: Fix a Loose Screw

Picture of Fix a Loose Screw

Fix a Loose Screw

If you have loose screw in a hole, there is an easy way to tighten the bond.

First remove the screw. Then take a thin layer of steel wool and wrap it around the screw.

Then reinstall the screw.

The screw should now have tighter tolerances and hold better.

Step 3: Wash Your Windshield

Picture of Wash Your Windshield

Wash your Windshield

Do you have bunch of water marks and imbedded dirt on your windshield?

Have you ever tried steel wool?

Make sure you are using Ultra Fine #0000 grade for this hack.

If you wet your windshield and wet the steel wool, you can gently use the wool to clean your windshield.

I did this on my own car and it worked great.

Step 4: Remove Black Heel Marks

Picture of Remove Black Heel Marks

Remove Black Heel Marks

Have you ever walked across a nice floor only to realize that you left a black heel mark?

Here is a simple way to fix it.

Use a wet piece of steel wool and gently rub the flooring and the black heel mark should disappear.

Step 5: Mice Barrier

Picture of Mice Barrier

Mice Barrier

If you have pipes entering your house, then that is a great place for mice to get in.

To help prevent that from happening, just take some steel wool and place it in all of the gaps between the pipe and the wall.

Mice do not like the taste of it in their mouths.

Step 6: Start a Fire

Picture of Start a Fire

Start a Fire

Have you ever needed to start a fire and did not have any dry matches?

Then it is a good to carry some #0000 steel wool and a 9-volt battery.

If you gently rub the connections of the battery on the steel, it will burn the wool.

This will even work if the wool is damp.

Then place some dry paper, dryer lint, dried leaves, etc on the sparks to create a fire.

Step 7: Clean Old Tires

Picture of Clean Old Tires

Clean Old Tires

If you have some old tires that have lost their luster, you can use some steel wool and WD-40 to return that shine.

Just spray the WD-40 on to the steel wool and give the tire a good rub.

Then thoroughly wash the tire to remove any residue.

The original shine of the tire should be returning.

Step 8: Clean Sneakers

Picture of Clean Sneakers

Clean Sneakers

Do you have a good pair of sneakers, but they are just too dirty to wear in public?

Here is a great way to clean them.

Using some steel wool and some plain (non-gel) toothpaste, gently rub the white bottoms of your sneakers.

The dirt and grime should come off relatively easy.

Make sure to wash all of the residue off before wearing.


GWSC (author)2017-09-26

You left out the most useful application of all. Use steel wool and kerosene to remove surface rust from just about anything that has been plated. Bicycle rims and spokes, steel table legs, tyre rims, old bumper bars etc. Depending on the surface rust it can end up looking almost brand new.

StretchD (author)2017-09-01

Thank you for the instructable. While there may be (some) better ways to do some of the tasks as I have seen in other comments they are off topic. I feel that the topic is on uses and life hacks for steel wool. Yes Steel wool is quite versatile. Many of the comments do mention some valid points like rust marks and galvanic reaction.
So use with caution.
I have successfully used Stainless steel wool (course pot scourers) to block potential mouse holes. It also makes a versatile backfill when patching holes around pipes before using filler. -Watch out for rust marks if you are not using stainless steel.

rclacovara (author)StretchD2017-09-01

Don't forget about brass wool. It is useful when steel wool might rust.

Najn_arte (author)rclacovara2017-09-04

Good to know.

novielo (author)2016-07-28

i don't think it will work for mice...

I had a tool chest in the shed with steel wool in it.

One day i found a mice nest in the bottom part of the tool chest.

The nest was made out of.... Steel wool they took from the other drawer :)

Najn_arte (author)novielo2017-09-04

LOL, mice eat anything. I've seen bags of laundry detergent that were ate through by mice.

UncleEd (author)novielo2016-07-28

The steel wool has to be crammed into the crack or hole very tightly. I can see their stripping off pieces from a pad of steel wool--or even from the loose ends sticking out of the hole in the picture in the article. I wouldn't think steel wool would be comfortable to sleep on, but I'm not a mouse.

Steel wool crammed in cracks and around pipes also stops small insects, according to our exterminator.

Was1x (author)UncleEd2016-07-28

You are right enough on this. Other sites and pest control suggest cramming steel wool in the cracks. If they do chew on it, it goes into their digestive trachs and the little buggers die later I am told. (I know, sounds cruel, but they ARE rodents.)

SirCooksalot (author)Was1x2016-08-07

Digestive tract. I'm the language police. Woot-woot-woot. Pull ovah.

Was1x (author)SirCooksalot2017-09-03

I know, I just has big thumbs.

AlyStrick (author)SirCooksalot2017-08-31


Drake88 (author)UncleEd2017-08-31

Steel wool fragments easily, and when eaten/chewed by mice(or rats) cause sores in the mouth, throat, stomach, and digestive tract. Most mice and rat poison uses a chemical used in human medicine - warfarin. It is a long known blood thinner and in high does can cause ulcers and sores in the digestive tract. Combined with the blood thinning action, the pests hemorrhage and die due to internal bleeding. Not pretty, but they ARE a major pest in human habitation around the world.

novielo (author)UncleEd2016-07-28

it sure was comfortable enough to raise a new family of 5 new mini mice :)

Funky Diver (author)novielo2016-08-06

Who also didn't have to worry about clogging their drains after bathing :D

AndrewC7 (author)novielo2016-07-28

X-D )))

tbt10f (author)UncleEd2016-07-28

Metal pot-scrubbers work better for this application, as it is much harder to pull pieces of it off.

GrumpyOldGoat (author)novielo2016-07-28

I had a camp trailer with a mouse problem.

After smoking them out with cedar smouldering at one end and a computer case fan pushing out the other end, I stuffed steel wool into some spray foam then sealed it with more spray foam.

No more mice, but plenty of chew marks until I put a small piece of galvanized duct over it.

Najn_arte (author)2017-09-04

Steel wool gets rusty real quick. I wouldn't put it anywhere in the bathtub. Anyways, good ideas. I may try to make a fire with the steel wool.

browneaction (author)2016-07-30

I ruined the glass of a fish aquarium before by cleaning the algae with steel wool. It seemed like a good idea at the time but it creates fine scratches in the glass; which in turn attracts alga and becomes harder and harder to clean. The scratches the steel wool makes become quite noticeable over time

rocketride (author)browneaction2017-09-01

Glass varies greatly in its hardness and abrasion resistance. Another major issue with surface abrasions on glass it that even un-tempered glass has much of its strength in its surface layer. Break the surface layer and the glass is substantially weakened.

rocketride (author)2017-09-01

For things too soft to polish with steel wool, or where rust from embedded flecks might be an issue; but plastic isn't 'definitive' enough, there is a kind of pot scourer which is made of coiled ribbons of copper. Bear in mind that I haven't specifically tried these on polycarbonate or methacrylate plastic, but they seem safe on all kinds of glass, except actual optics. Way too rough for camera lenses, binoculars, telescope optics, etc.

buck2217 (author)2016-08-06

I found out about the lighting a fire a few years back with a battery and some steel wool in my overall pockets!!!!

rocketride (author)buck22172017-09-01


cbowers18 (author)2016-08-06

Interesting ideas. But tell me-- have you ever tried to bathe a cat?

PattyP17 (author)cbowers182016-09-17

LOL! Yeah. But I once had a cat that I had to teach to NOT get in the shower with me. He loved water. The time he jumped in and got dandruff shampoo all over his feet was the final straw. I grapsed him gently but firmly round the chest and held his feet under the spray to wash all his paws off and never a struggle. He seemed to enjoy it. One strange but very smart cat.

rocketride (author)PattyP172017-09-01

So did I. He was a beautiful, brilliant, sweet, and slightly squirrelly tuxie named Edgar. He would get in the shower with me if I let him.

lorij27 (author)cbowers182016-08-06

I use to as a kid! They sure didn't like it!!!

SirCooksalot (author)lorij272016-08-07

I bathe mine once a week, every Wednesday! 2 cats in a bubble bath. Yup. Tearless shampoo and a yellow/green scrubby sponge lol. My cats are hairless Sphynxes, and they need regular bathing. Normal cats produce sebum (oils) and it kinda slides out onto their hair and they clean it. Hairless cats sebum builds up on their skin and needs to be cleaned off. And yes, they get pimples sometimes too. Pretty cool,eh?

nedchurch (author)2017-08-31

Keeping rodents out, steel wool around plastic pipe works great but steel wool and copper pipe... not such a good idea because of the galvanic reaction if it gets the least bit of moisture (like condensation) on it. The steel wool will rust possibly giving trails of rust down the wall which might be fine if it's out of sight but could leave a mess inside a bathroom cabinet. Just a thought.

Paul snaith (author)2017-08-31

hi ,

If you are going to clean a glass windscreen with steel wool, make sure you rinse it well.

any small bits that break off ,and are left ,wet on the glass ,will rust ,

Quite quickly.

Believe me they will make a mess of glass ,and car paint work.

Try putting iron filings onto someone's car ,on a damp night,

If you don't like them that is!

unanw1 (author)2017-08-31

The mice barrier hack was actually used by the exterminator, who got rid of my rats. I had 3 rats who got in, through the gap around the pipes. As soon as he had caught and killed the rats, he stuffed steel wool around the pipes. Worked like a charm. Never had any more rats.

cbowers18 (author)2016-08-06

For those who are worried about scratching their windshield with 0000 steel wool, try a green plastic scrubbie (Scotch or generic); they're good at scouring all sorts of things, but they're softer than glass, so shouldn't scratch.

I wonder about the person who reported that 0000 scratched the glass of their aquarium; was it glass, or plexy or Lexan? Those will scratch for sure.

Bradscopegems (author)cbowers182016-08-06

Scotchbrite General Purpose scouring pads, such as are sold in hardware stores, contain mineral particles ( probably aluminium oxide, which is the same as emery). They are capable of scratching both steel and glass. If you want to avoid this you have to find grades specially made for cleaning non-stick pans.

cbowers18 (author)Bradscopegems2016-08-08

Yes, such as the ones sold in supermarkets-- two grades, one (green) for scouring pots, one (blue) for scouring non-stick cookware. Neither will scratch glass, although the green one will scratch the paint finish on your refrigerator. But I suppose that someone looking to replace steel wool would go to a hardware store, not a supermarket. As you point out, the greenies sold in hardware stores are designed to function like sandpaper.

Drake88 (author)cbowers182017-08-31

Funny thing here. Those ScotchBite pads are made of the same material that is used in wax buffing pads for powered floor buffers/ cleaners. Those pads can sometimes be bought at hardware stores or janitorial supply stores. They also come in varied degrees of grit/ roughness and are also extremely useful for a number of things - washing dishes(varied types - careful with those non-sticks), cleaning ANYTHING, 'sanding' wood/ metal/ plastic(careful - some can scratch metal), etc. - the uses of those pads are nearly endless, provided you are careful in how you use them.

I used to save the core 'hole' that had to be punched out to use them on a buffer. Those pads are incredibly useful - I suggest trying to find some and, with a little experimentation, you will find them to be useful as well. Just be careful when cutting with scissors - they WILL dull your scissors, so do NOT use your wife's good sewing scissors(hell to pay will follow).

rawise (author)Bradscopegems2016-08-11

The plastic netting that fruit & onions come in will clean Teflon without scratching it... :-)

kivajiva (author)2017-08-31

There is no reason to "toss in the trash" the steel wool after you use it to keep the hair from clogging the drain. Please toss it in your recycling bin so that it reincarnates into another usable product, maybe perhaps a metal trash can.

ElegantAndrogyne (author)2017-08-31

I use steel wool with some window cleaner for removing surface rust from chrome or nickel-plated steel. Pretty useful for giving vintage bikes etc. a new shine.

OrenK9 (author)2017-08-31

Very cool. One more thing you can do with these is a homemade fireworks.

Tie around some SteelWool a 2 meters metal wire, soak the SteelWool in a mixture of Diesel and some Engine Oil (About 80%-20%), light it up and then swing fast in circles. Works great!

uncle frogy (author)2016-08-06

I never thought of the steel wool screw trick that is now store for future reference

you must have a very controlled touch to use steel wool on glass like that many would probably ruin it I was told that when the windscreens of small planes are cleaned it is ad vised that they only go up and down so any streaks and small scratches only go in the same direction might be because they are plastic but any way.

I have used steel wool to patch rat and mouse holes to good results. I used a little courser grade and in-bedded it in the plaster they have no problem chewing plaster but they can not chew steel otherwise they would be eating through caned foods and peanut butter jar lids.

uncle frogy

Glass is harder than steel: You should be able to push as hard on the glass with the steel wool without problems.

I have searched on the internet, and it is stated that plane windows are Polycarbonate, a fairly soft plastic.

Glass is harder than steel? I'm not so sure about that, but it's irrelevant. The outer surface of your windshield is not glass- it's a soft plastic that holds the glass together if it breaks. All modern auto glass is laminated, so it's VERY easy to scratch. I would skip that steel wool hack fer sher. If you're driving a Model T with plate glass windows, give er a try.

IamTedV (author)SirCooksalot2017-08-31

Actually, that is incorrect. The windshield is two layers of glass, with the plastic layer sandwiched in between them. That way you have the hard, durable glass on both exposed sides. This is also why windshields can be cut. They are not tempered like the rest of the windows in a car.

sgbotsford (author)SirCooksalot2017-08-31

The lamination plastic is between two layers of glass.

You are correct that auto glass is laminated but the plastic is on the inside sandwiched between two layers of glass. ( Saw it on "How That's Made")

sgbotsford (author)uncle frogy2017-08-31

Several good ones here.

Airplanes have acrylic (plexiglass) or polycarbonate windshields. Scratches very easily. Steel and glass are close to the same hardness. I would be reluctant to use on my windshield until trying gentler approaches. Certainly try first on a corner.


Drains: A roll of used panty hose.

Screws: String, or duct tape.

Scrubbing plastic: Scotch bright nylon pad, or Magic eraser.

Better then steel wool for a sloppy wood screw hole is a tooth pick a little elmers glue, & you got a much better fix.

Zaacharia (author)Rick velocity2016-08-14

I was going there myself - I repaired a hand-rail that had been screwed into marble by filling the hole with wooden matches (minus the igniter, duh) cut to size, Elmered into place and re-screwed.

ivak245 (author)2017-08-31

Remote fireworks lighter- insert wick into steel wool, strip about 1/2" of some electrical wire, & insert 2 wires into the wool so the wick is between them. Connect the other ends to a 9volt battery. The current will go between the inserted wires, steel wool will start to burn - and away goes your fireworks.

Daisydo (author)2016-08-19

To stop steel wool from turning into a tiny rusted lump, just set it on a small piece of aluminum foil. I also cut the pads in half before I use them, a little steel wool goes a long way.

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