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8 Uses for Steel Wool That You Haven’t Thought of Before

Steel wool is for more than just cleaning your oven! Keep reading to find out why steel wool is as handy as duct tape.

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stainless steel scrubber, scouring pad for dish washingShutterstock/Nor Gal

Steel wool is a wad of fine, flexible steel filaments. Introduced in 1896, it is a product that has persisted due to its usefulness. However, many people aren’t aware how handy it is. Stock your “fix it” kit with duct tape, WD-40 and steel wool to solve a myriad of household problems and help out with home projects.

Psst! Don’t miss these unexpected uses for aluminum foil.

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Clean any metal

Steel wool is a powerhouse for cleaning metal cookware and tools that are crusted over and rusty. Think old cast-iron skillets, garden spades that were left in the rain or old pliers that need a shine. And once your skillet is cleaned and seasoned, you’re ready to create any one of these cast-iron skillet meals!

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Sandpaper substitute

Steel wool is a simple stand-in for fine-grit sandpaper. Use the finest gauge steel wool (0000) to sand between layers of oil-based paint (if using water-based paint, minute bits of leftover steel wool may rust) or to buff out the final coat of paint. It’s especially helpful when sanding atypical edges or beveling.

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DIY furniture distresser

DIY home projects are all the rage, as is using “vintage” wood for signs and home decor. Combine vinegar and steel wool in a jar to create a stain and paint onto fresh wood for an instant weathered look. Stain wood furniture or barn board signs to add a distressed silvery patina using this method.

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Sharpen scissors

Keeping scissors sharp is a frustrating task, but steel wool makes it easy. With each piece of paper cut, blades get dull, but a few snips of steel wool will have blades operating in tip-top shape again. To get a new beveled edge, scissors will need to be professionally sharpened, but steel wool can help keep blades sharp between maintenance sessions.

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Get rid of scuffs and more

Steel wool is the original “magic eraser.” Use it to gently take off black scuff marks from vinyl or wood flooring. It can also take crayon off walls or wallpaper. If your little Picasso decided to locate her latest masterpiece on your hallway wall, simply dampen with water and gently scrub to remove color.  Have Mr. Clean Magic Erasers at home? Here are a few genius ways to use them.

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Steel stuffing

As the weather turns cold, small creatures like mice seek warmth through available holes or intake pipes. Use steel wool to stuff any access points as a non-toxic way to prevent vermin from entering your home. Air can still pass through, but rodents cannot chew through the steel fibers.

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Repair “screw ups”

Sometimes during a home improvement project, you get a little over-zealous with the drill and make a hold too large for the intended screw. Instead of re-drilling, wrap a bit of steel wool around the screw. The material will provide enough grip that the screw will hold tight.

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Fire starter

Keep a nine volt battery and a bit of steel wool handy while trekking through the wilderness to start a fast fire. Set the steel wool on some kindling and touch the positive and negative ends of the battery to the metal fibers. A current will be sent through the filaments and the material will begin to smolder and catch your kindling alight. Keep this in mind when you plan your next camping trip!