How To Clean Steel Wool? What Not to Do

If you were to make a list of some of the most important cleaning items in your kitchen, steel wool pads would definitely be at the top of the list. There is no denying the fact that these pads are some of the toughest scrubbers that you can use to keep your dishes clean. Unfortunately, these pads are often short-lived since they are susceptible to rust and corrosion.

However, there are certain tips and tricks that you can use to keep your steel wool rust-free and use it to its full potential. You can use a mixture of clean water and baking soda to effectively clean your tool and increase its life. Another way of making your steel wool last long is just to put them in a zip lock back and freeze them.

It is not very complicated to take care of your steel wool. This article will guide you through some of the best ways of taking care of your cleaning tools and tell you why these methods work.

Clean Your Steel Wools In The Right Way

There is just some innate satisfaction in being able to clean that horribly stained piece of utensil. To do it, you need a rust-free steel wood pad. However, these steel wools can run out of time sooner than expected due to low maintenance and careless storage.

You need a proper cleaning regime to make sure that your steel pads last longer and do an excellent job of cleaning your utensils and other parts of the house.

Here is how you can do it.

Step 1: Rinse it Well

Once you are done cleaning your dishes, don’t just leave the steel wool unattended. Rinse it well and squeeze out as much moisture as you possibly can.

Step 2: Make The Cleaning Mixture

To start, take a medium-sized glass jar and fill it half with water. Now, add around two tablespoons of baking soda into the water. Finally, close the lid of the pot and shake the mixture vigorously.

Voila! Your steel wool cleaning mixture is ready.

Step 3: Clean The Pad

Once the cleaning solution is made, you can put the steel wool inside the container. Ensure that the pad is entirely submerged into the mixture. You can use your hands to clean up the grim that might have accumulated on the surface of the pad.

Step 4: Let The Steel Wool Rest

You don’t have to do anything for the last step. Just leave the cleaning pad in the cleaning solution. As long as it stays completely submerged in the mixture, it wouldn’t rust. Just rinse the steel wool once when you want to use it, and you should be good to go.

Pro Tip: You can wash the container and make a fresh cleaning solution every week to maximize your results.

Store Your Steel Wool The Right Way

When it comes to increasing the longevity of steel wool pads, it’s not just about cleaning them regularly but also about storing them properly between uses. If you don’t use your cleaning pads regularly and just let them sit in the sponge holder for too long, they will eventually rust.

You can use a technique to store your steel wool, and it’s not complicated at all. All you need to do is just keep the pads in a zip-lock container and throw them in the freezer. That’s it!

Why does it Work?

Wondering why doing something as simple as freezing your steel wool can make them more durable? Here is your answer.

Steel wool is predominantly made of iron. It consists of zillions of skinny fibres that provide a lot of surface area to be potentially corroded with rust. Water and oxygen are the two primary compounds that react with iron to create rust.

When your steel wool is just sitting in the sponge holder, it is constantly exposed to oxygen and water splashes. Therefore, as a result, the iron reacts with these two compounds and leads to the rusting of the steel wool.

This is where freezing comes in. Firstly, it condenses all the water droplets that exist on the pad and prevents it from reacting with the iron. Secondly, by storing the pad in a zip-lock container, you limit the amount of oxygen it gets. This further prevents the iron from rusting.

To conclude, if you keep your steel wools in the freezer, they will basically last forever, until one fine day when you’ll forget to do it.

What Not to Do With Your Steel Wools

From using them to clean utensils to using them to fill holes to prevent rat entry, steel wools offer a significant number of versatile uses. However, there are just some things that you should never use them for to maximize the usage of the product and your own productivity.

Don’t Use Them With Bare Hands

A ball of steel wool might look soft, but not taking necessary precautions while using it can leave you with painful finger injuries. It is best to use thick heavy-duty kitchen gloves while using steel wools to avoid the risk.

Don’t Try to Clean Stainless Steel With Steel Wool

Doing this will not make your steel wool go bad fast but will also expose your stainless-steel utensil to rust and corrosion. The abrasive characteristic of the cleaning pad can remove the finish from the silverware and leave ugly scratches that are non-removable.

Keep In Mind That Steel Wool is Flammable

The ideal method of storing steel wools has already been discussed earlier. However, please make sure that you don’t keep them near anything flammable under any circumstances. It is so flammable that even leaving it near a power source can make it catch fire.

Don’t Use it To Clean Oak-based Material

Many people think that since steel wool can be used for sanding wood, it can also be used on oak. They can’t be more wrong. The iron present in steel wool can chemically react with oak tannins and result in a horrible permanent black or blue stain.

Frequently Asked Questions

What all surfaces can you clean with steel wool?

To put it in simple terms, any surface that is harder than steel wool can be cleaned with it without any damage. On the other hand, you can use this cleaning tool to smoothen the softer surfaces carefully.

Why should you use steel wool instead of sandpaper?

Sandpaper makes the surface rough, whereas steel wool helps smooth it out. Moreover, you can reach awkward areas that are difficult to clean with the help of steel wool.

Is steel wool environment friendly?

Yes, steel wool doesn’t cause any harm to the environment since it is entirely decomposable.

Are there any anti-rust steel wool available in the market?

Several brands claim to provide steel wools that are not prone to rust. However, since these items are made of iron, the basic chemistry behind the whole claim doesn’t make complete sense.