Monday, December 4, 2023


Brilliant camping hacks and tips using steel wool

By Gail Marsh
I used to think it was smart to pack some steel wool along when camping so that I could scrub our cookware and grill grates. I had no idea how many other ways that steel wool could help out around the campsite. Here are some surprising RV hacks for steel wool that I’ve discovered. I bet they’ll surprise you, too!

First, some important cautions!

I always use super fine steel wool. The package will read “OOOO,” indicating the very finest grade. (Steel wool comes in various grades. For reference, OOO is coarser than OOOO.) The reason I use OOOO? It won’t scratch most surfaces like coarser grades of steel wool can. This is what I use.

Please, please always test the surface in a hidden area before you try any of the following tips! Also, it’s best to wear gloves when working with steel wool. Protect your eyes, nose, and mouth as well. Be aware that when using steel wool some residue (tiny bits of the steel wool) may be left behind. Because the steel wool can rust, be sure to thoroughly brush or wash off any residue when you’ve finished. Finally, as you’ll soon learn, steel wool is highly flammable! Use necessary precautions.

Tips for using steel wool around the RV

Exterior RV hacks with steel wool

  • Start a fire. Steel wool and a 9-volt battery can help you start your campfire without matches or a lighter. Simply place steel wool inside the fire pit along with some dryer lint or other dry kindling. The steel wool will spark when you rub the 9-volt battery terminals on it.
  • Clean the RV windshield. If you happen to park under a pine tree and get sap on your windshield, some steel wool will help remove the sticky sap. You can use a glass cleaner along with the steel wool for particularly stubborn spots if needed. The same method will rid your windshield of dead bugs and other debris. (Note: Be very cautious if you’re dealing with tinted windows. Check with the manufacturer before scrubbing with steel wool.)
  • Clean the RV grille. Buffing with steel wool will make your RV grille shine like new! The same goes for cleaning bugs and road grease off the bumper of your truck.
  • Spiff up those wheels. Buff away road grime from the wheel and hub caps on your RV. Use a circular motion with the steel wool for best success. Note: Steel wool can damage chrome, so while this does work, use with caution.
  • Remove rust from tools. First, remove any excess dirt and debris from the tool. Then scrub your shovel, ax, or clipper blades with steel wool. It will remove rust just like that! A quick scrub with steel wool over rusty wrenches, screwdrivers, and knives will also clear away rust.
  • Patio furniture. Use steel wool to remove rust from patio furniture. Once removed, keep the metal from rusting again by applying a rust-preventive paint.
  • RV tailpipe. Restore the shine to your RV tailpipe with a quick buff of steel wool. The same goes for your motorcycle chrome and chrome tire rims.
  • Undercarriage metal parts. We’ve used steel wool to remove rust from the exterior metal steps as well as other metal parts under our RV. We follow up the rust removal with a coat of rust-preventive paint.
  • Critter block. Stuff steel wool into any of your RV’s exterior areas that rodents or other critters might find and use for entry into your RV. Look especially around the sewer pipe and other hose and pipe entry points. (Mice will not chew through the steel wool.)

Interior RV hacks with steel wool

  • Shower door. Soap and hard water grime can be removed by using steel wool. You can use window cleaner along with the steel wool, if necessary. Buff the area and then rinse well.
  • Sharpen scissors. Simply cut steel wool with your scissors. Your blades will be sharper.
  • Clean RV oven. Steel wool will clean away oven grime, spilled food, and more, without the dangerous fumes of an oven cleaner. Just use soap and water and buff in a circular motion.
  • Shine chrome. Chrome faucets and faucet handles will shine with a quick-dry buff with steel wool.
  • Remove shoe scuffs. Gently rub black heel marks off your RV’s vinyl floors with steel wool.
  • Clean crayon off walls. Easily remove the grandkids’ “artwork” from wallpapered RV walls. Just rub lightly with steel wool and the waxy mess will come right off.
  • Polish brass. Steel wool will restore the shine to brass door handles, hinges, and more. Just buff lightly.
  • “Age” wood. Shiplap is all the rage in redecorating RVs. You can quickly “age” wood by dipping steel wool in vinegar. The steel reacts with the vinegar and when rubbed on the bare wooden planks, the wood will take on an “aged” appearance.
  • Keep drains clear. Wait! Before you bathe your dog in your RV’s shower, tear strips of steel wool and position it all around the shower drain. The steel wool will catch all of that dog hair, preventing it from going down the drain. After the shower, simply toss the steel wool (and hair mess) into the trash.
  • Keep screws tight. If the screw hole is too big for the screw, wind a small bit of steel wool around the screw threads. When you tighten the screw, the steel wool will keep the screw tightly in place.
  • Clean tennis shoes. Put a bit of toothpaste on steel wool and rub grime off your white tennis shoes.



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Joe (@guest_260239)
25 days ago

Be careful using steel wool to clean a grill, small pieces can break away and end up in your food, swallowing them can send you to the hospital.

Rosy (@guest_260243)
25 days ago
Reply to  Joe

This is very important! I spent 5 days in a hospital and narrowly avoided surgery for a perforated colon. I had eaten at a restaurant that used wire brushes to clean their grill. Cleaning your grill with steel wool of any grade is not a good idea.

DW/ND (@guest_260225)
25 days ago

Quick Tip: WD-40 will also remove black heel marks from vinyl flooring.

Neal Davis (@guest_260223)
25 days ago

Thank you, Gail. I am a bit leery of a few of the uses given for steel wool. Still, thank you for all of them!

Steve H (@guest_260221)
25 days ago

I guess I’m too old to understand the new lingo. The title of the article says “hacks and tips”, but all the headings are called “hacks”. What is a “hack” and how is it different than a tip? If they are the same, why not just use “tip” so those of us not on any social media can understand it?

Gary W. (@guest_260233)
25 days ago
Reply to  Steve H

I have the same pet peeve. They are “tips”.

KellyR (@guest_260244)
25 days ago
Reply to  Steve H

I do not understand how we have allowed our language to be hacked in such a way. Get out our hatchets.and hack away at the “hacks”. They are tips, ideas, and “looks at what I discovered”. Noah Webster, has turned over, where ever he is.

Rick (@guest_261181)
20 days ago
Reply to  Steve H

I agree with you. I think it’s an overused buzz word. Tip is exactly what it is.

Cindy B (@guest_260216)
25 days ago

If you don’t want your steel wool to rust, put it in a plastic zipper bag and keep it in the freezer!

Bill Byerly (@guest_260213)
25 days ago

I have used the 0000 steel wool for soft sanding between coats of polyurethane when finishing or refinishing wood projects. Very smooth and clean up of the residual dust is easy with tack cloth and soft brush..

Ken (@guest_260204)
25 days ago

I used Steel Wool and Water Spot Remover on my car windows. Now I have small swirl scratches on all my car windows visible when driving in the Sun. Can’t remember how many Zeros were on the package. But it was all Zeros. I didn’t know to look for four Zeros.
‘Very much agree stuffing non rusting Metal Chore Ball around power cord entrance. Mice crawled up my cord and chewed the plastic hole bigger so they could get in. What a mess.

Len (@guest_260192)
25 days ago

Bronze wool is best for most of the above applications as it will not rust. Can be purchased in various marine grades on line.

Like your site with the great useful info

Jimmyb (@guest_260169)
25 days ago

I prefer BRONZE WOOL this also comes in different courses oo, ooo, oooo also. This doesn’t RUST like steel wool does when small particles get caught in cracks and crevices.

Tommy Molnar (@guest_260170)
25 days ago
Reply to  Jimmyb

I’ve been using copper wool for stuffing around my power cord whenever it is used. Even when parked next to our house, I stuff a bunch of this ‘wool’ around the cord where it exits the trailer to keep rodents and any other undesirables from sneaking in. It also resists rusting.

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