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Brilliant Uses for Steel Wool You’ll Wish You Knew Sooner

If you're only using steel wool to scrub your pots, you're tapping just a fraction of its potential! These outside-the-box steel wool uses will save you time, money and effort.

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Use vinegar as a drain cleanerPhoto: Shutterstock

Looking for a disposable drain strainer? Use steel wool!

Don’t end up with a clogged drain: Before you give Fido his next bath, use a wad of steel wool to block the drain. There’s enough room for water to get through, but nasty hair and gunk will get caught up in the steel wool .

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How to clean white sneakersPhoto: Shutterstock

Use steel wool to clean dirty sneakers

Don’t you hate getting scuffs on your white soled shoes? Use steel wool to fix this common footwear dilemma: Moisten a steel wool soap pad and gently scrub away at stains. Wipe them clean with a damp sponge or put them in the washing machine and they’ll be good as new.

Find out more pro tips on how to clean white sneakers.

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Dirty garden toolsPhoto: Shutterstock

Use steel wool to keep garden tools in shape

Nothing will extend the life of your gardening tools like a good cleaning at the end of each growing season. Grab a wad of fine steel wool, and saturate it with the same type of oil you use on squeaky door hinges. Rub rust off your shears, shovels, and anything else with metal parts. Wipe them clean with a dry rag, sharpen any blades, and reapply with a bit of oil before storing them for winter.

These simple yard tool hacks will make your life easier.

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Sanding wood surfacePhoto: Shutterstock

Use steel wool after sanding a DIY project

Anxious to put varnish on that freshly sanded project? Well, just hold on a second! Before applying the finish, rub the project (moving with the grain—not against it) using steel wool. You’ll lift sanding dust from the grain and burnish and shine the surface fibres. Follow up with a Swiffer cloth (sold at grocery stores) to wipe away any specks of dust or steel wool. You’re now ensured a pristine surface for perfect results with oil-based (not water-based) finishes.

Got more DIY projects on the go? Don’t miss these painting tips the pros don’t want you to know.

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Stainless steel cookwarePhoto: Shutterstock

Clean pans and metal cookware

Steel wool is all you need to remove stubborn stains from steel cookware. Soak pots and pans, then use a steel wool scrubbing pad to remove even the most baked-on messes.

Avoid these common mistakes people make with stainless steel cookware.

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Empty open electric ovenPhoto: Shutterstock

Use steel wool to clean the oven

For burnt food stuck to the bottom of your oven, steel wool is a much better alternative than toxic oven-cleaning chemicals. After running your oven’s self-cleaning cycle, use steel wool to remove the burnt debris and make your oven shine like new.

Here’s exactly how to clean a greasy, dusty oven hood.

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Aged dark hardwoodPhoto: Shutterstock

Use steel wool to instantly “age” wood

If you want to make new wood age quickly, use a mixture of steel wool and vinegar as stain. The brown-gray liquid, when applied to new lumber, gives it a silvery patina. It’s a much faster way to create this in-demand look than letting your wood sit outside for a few years (and it’s non-toxic, too!).

Check out 100+ more clever uses for vinegar.

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Critter hole in woodPhoto: Shutterstock

Fill critter holes with steel wool

Dealing with a mouse infestation is never fun. Once you’ve done your detective work, you can plug suspected mouse holes with a wad of steel wool. It’s inexpensive and mice won’t chew through it.

Could these pests be hiding in your attic?

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Rusty toolsPhoto: Shutterstock

Clean rusty tools with steel wool

At some point, every metal tool develops rust. Fortunately, steel wool excels at removing surface rust. Just grab a wad of steel wool and start buffing your tools. They’ll look like new in no time!

Here are more cleaning hacks for hard-to-remove stuff.

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Vinyl flooringPhoto: Shutterstock

Remove scuff marks on floors

Dark-soled shoes on vinyl floors can lead to scuff marks. Fear not—a few scrubs with a some steel wool and the scuff marks will be gone.

Here’s more expert advice on how to clean vinyl floors.

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ScissorPhoto: Shutterstock

Sharpen scissors

It may seem counterintuitive, but using your dull scissors to cut steel wool actually sharpens them! You won’t be able to grind a new bevel by any means, but a few snips through steel wool will renew the cutting edges of your scissors.

No steel wool handy? You can also use aluminum foil to sharpen scissors!

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Little girl drawing on wall with crayonsPhoto: Shutterstock

Use steel wool to remove crayon from wallpaper

If your miniature Monet was inspired to create a masterpiece with crayons on your wallpaper, don’t despair. Steel wool is just abrasive enough to remove the crayon marks. Just make sure to test it in an inconspicuous spot first.

Psst–you can also use toothpaste to remove crayon from walls!

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Motorcycle exhaust pipePhoto: Shutterstock

How steel wool can help you store a vehicle over the winter

When you’re putting your vehicles to bed for the winter, it’s a good idea to critter-proof them, too. Mufflers and air cleaners are attractive homes for pests like mice. Keep them out by stuffing a sandwich bag with steel wool and then pushing the bag into the air intake and tailpipes. The bag keeps steel wool strands out of the engine. Use bright-coloured caution tape as a reminder to remove it in the spring.

Here are more helpful hints for storing a vehicle over the winter.

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Sideview of loose screwPhoto: Shutterstock

Use steel wool to fix a loose screw

This is an old carpenter’s trick: If you have a screw hole that’s too big, just wrap a bit of steel wool around the screw before you drive it in. It provides just enough friction to hold the screw firmly in place and takes less futzing than trying to fill a hole and re-drill.

Now that you’ve got these clever steel wool uses under your belt, check out 100 more home improvement hacks.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest