Introduction: 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.

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Step 1: 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.


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.

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?

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.

thewanger (author)2016-08-16

great thanks!

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


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.


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.


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")

JoeB95 (author)2016-08-13

The most awesome hack for steel wool was an instructable where a guy stuffed 0000 wool into the end of an automobile brake line with the other end connected to a needle valve attached to an oxygen cylinder. He fed oxygen through the line then lit the steel wool causing the entire brake line to become a welding or cutting lance. No acetylene, no combustible gases, just oxygen. Video was amazing.

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.

rawise (author)Bradscopegems2016-08-11

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

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.

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 :)

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.

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.

RobF10 (author)2016-08-04

That was a great idea for the loose screw! What I used to do is place a wooden matchstick in to the screwhole tail-first as far as it could go then break the remainder of the stick off so that it was flush with the surface. Again you get a tighter tolerance for your screw, but I like how with steel wool at least the screw would be dead center of the hole, useful when accuracy is a must.

MarkAvenius (author)RobF102016-08-06

I've also done the same, but with cheap wooden toothpicks. If you need high tolerance, put three in a triangle around the screw (assuming the hole is big enough.) Handy for tightening up wobbly hinges. I'll try the steel wool idea next time though.

SirCooksalot (author)MarkAvenius2016-08-07

Golf tees work well too, for a larger hole where a matchstick won't work OR to fill the hole entirely and sorta start over fresh.

the norm (author)2016-07-28

To get black shoe marks off the floor, put on your running shoes, and wipe the mark with the sole of the shoe, when it is gone, step over to the next one and remove it.
I do this walking down the halls at school all the time.


The tennis shoe sole rub works great.

DonnH1 (author)the norm2016-08-06

The school janitors in my district use a tennis ball on the end of a broom handle to scour off running shoe scuff marks in the halls and the gym. I tried it and it works. You make a short cut on the ball just the right size to allow a broom handle to be inserted.

DonnH1 (author)the norm2016-08-06

The school janitors in my district use a tennis ball on the end of a broom handle to scour off running shoe scuff marks in the halls and the gym. I tried it and it works. You make a short cut on the ball just the right size to allow a broom handle to be inserted.

JustinV35 (author)the norm2016-07-28

Yup! I've done that too :)

123bonita5747 (author)JustinV352016-07-30

Yup, I did this at Fred Meyer, when I cashiered there, between checkouts.

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!!!!

Technoaussie (author)2016-08-06

I can verify that steel wool is a great product to use for truly cleaning your windscreen or rear window. It removes all the road grime that causes wiper blades to smear when you switch the wipers on after a long dry spell. If you often drive behind diesel cars or trucks the muck they spew out of their exhaust is easy to remove with nothing more than steel wool. Great stuff every home (and motorist) should have on hand.

EmmitS (author)2016-08-06

The best thing to do with steel wool is to leave it on the store shelf. There is no use for steel wool that can't be done more efficiently by some other product.

EmreK24 (author)2016-08-06

There is another hack. Burn the steel wool!!! i think more funny than 8 :)

rbclima (author)2016-07-27

9 - Low cost fireworks kkkkkk

rbclima (author)rbclima2016-07-27

tie a rope ... and spin it!

killbox (author)rbclima2016-08-06

id suggest using bead chain (like you use on a cieling fan pull) keeps it from getting twisted up. and wont burn through like rope would

sanmarr (author)rbclima2016-07-29

Did this once, and a flaming piece of it broke off and landed in the hair of my nephew's friend. No damage done, but scared the heck out of him (and me).

rbclima (author)sanmarr2016-07-29

heheheheheheheh must have been hilarious! I usually put the wool inside a "nest" of copper wire.

It is great for "light painting" photos!

rbclima (author)rbclima2016-07-29


isa_k (author)rbclima2016-08-06

Aah! Fond childhood memories right there! satisfied_grin.jpg ;)

killbox (author)2016-08-06

I know its hard when you are mad, but remember the be nice policy!

Hardness of glass vs steel, should be fine, although id suggest people test it in a small area first just to be sure there is not some sort of coating. and indeed i woudl not use it on modern fiberglass tubs. but older cast iron ones with ceramic there is a good chance the luster is already gone.

MELODYJANEL (author)2016-08-06

Didn't check to see if anyone posted this already: Soak Steel wool & vinegar in jar overnight. Homemade wood stain. Longer it sets,darker the effect. Works with rusty nails too.

nanaverm (author)2016-08-06

Your hints #1, 3, 4, 5, 7, and 8 can also be accomplished using coarse nylon net. And that won't rust or scratch, either. I didn't know about the battery/steel wool lighter trick- thanks.

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