Maintain Garden Tools
Give your garden tools a spa treatment at the end of each season. Rub them clean with a piece of 000 (extra-fine) steel wool soaked in ordinary household oil. Wipe them dry with a clean rag before putting them away for winter, and they’ll be ready to hit the ground running come spring.
Keep your scissors superbly sharp by periodically using them to cut through a piece of steel wool. Repeat with another cut if needed. If you do this on a regular basis, you won’t need to have them professionally sharpened.
Keep Out Rodents
Start a Campfire
Wrap a small piece of steel wool around a cotton ball to make a quick and easy campfire starter. Store a few in an air-tight container or bag until you’re ready to use them. When you want to start a fire, fluff up the cotton ball and ignite the steel wool by rubbing the leads of a 9V battery over it. Throw on some tinder, and you’ve got yourself a campfire.
Distress a Paint Finish
Use steel wool to take down the gloss on a paint finish and achieve a distressed look. More malleable than sandpaper, steel wool is easier to hold and molds more readily around awkward shapes. You can also use a finer-grade steel wool for burnishing.
Tighten a Loose Screw
Wind a little steel wool around a screw before putting it back into a hole that’s loosened up over time. The steel wool will tighten it up and keep the screw in place.
Take the tarnish off real brass with some extra-fine steel wool. It works equally well with either a commercial or DIY polish made with salt and lemon juice. Avoid steel wool on brass plate, as it can scratch the thin plating. How to tell the difference? A magnet will stick to brass plate, but not to real brass.
Finishing or Refinishing Woodwork
Use the finest (0000) steel wool to smooth the surface on a piece you’ve stained and shellacked. It will remove any dust particles that may have settled during drying and give you a super smooth surface for that final coat of shellac.
Wash Your Windows
Use the finest steel wool to clean your windows without water or chemicals. Keep a vacuum handy to remove all the grime you loosen as well as the dust created by the steel wool. If your window framing is aluminum, you can clean it with steel wool as well—and then let the sun shine in!
Remove Scuffs on Sneakers
Give the midsoles of scuffed-up sneakers a makeover by brushing them up with steel wool, toothpaste, and some old-fashioned elbow grease. Then rinse with water. Your kicks will thank you.
Clean Your Grill Grates
Eliminate stubborn, stuck-on deposits on your grill grates with steel wool. Soak the grates in soapy water first to soften the worst gunk, then go to work with some steel wool. With a little muscle and effort, you’ll be searing up steaks on clean grates in no time.
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