Monday, September 26, 2022


Brilliant camping hacks and tips using steel wool

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.

Steel wool hacks and tips

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.
  • 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.

More RV tips and hacks with steel wool

I’m sure there are additional ideas. Do you use steel wool in other ways when camping? Share your ideas in the comments or head over to my forum and keep the conversation going!



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4 months ago

OOOO steel wool and paste floor wax makes a great final rub down after polyurathane when refinishing wood. also can use it dry between coats instead of sandpaper.

Russell Grassl
8 months ago

When you winterize the RV, check where your slides come in. If you have the least little opening, stuff some steel wool in there. Great for keeping little creatures out.

8 months ago

Dollar ‘Malls’ have silver color and copper color scrubby pads check them carefully to be sure they aren’t plastic. Stainless steel which won’t rust or real copper if that is your choice. Bought a nice ‘guest’ trailer years back that had 0000 steel wool around pipes and openings but the ‘plugs’ were rusted and the unwanted visitors didn’t seem to mind pulling it out of the way and coming in. Have found that the stainless steel scrubbies are not even something pack rats wiil challengen YEAH! in SW AZ slither critters will ‘follow’ scent of previous visitors seeking a snack or place to ‘hang’. NO likey uninvited visitors!
Happy Trails as Roy and Dale used to sing

8 months ago
Reply to  Crys

Loved that show as a kid! Thanks for the tips, Crys.

Tony V
8 months ago

If you use steel wool to catch dog hair in the shower, don’t throw it away, just dry it out and use it as your fire starter as suggested.

8 months ago
Reply to  Tony V

Now why didn’t I think of that?! Thanks!

Tom B
8 months ago

Do NOT use Steel Wool on CHROME!! EVER! Steel is harder than the chrome coating and WILL erode it. Go to the dollar tree and buy some 100% COPPER wool. (Make sure it’s 100%!!) I use this on my Harley to remove melted boot rubber off my pipes. it will cut through ‘gunk’ as good as the steel, but will NOT damage the chrome. it can’t as the chrome is harder than the copper.

Thomas D
8 months ago

I cant confirm this but i understand my grandma knitted a new stove out of steel wool.

RV Staff(@rvstaff)
8 months ago
Reply to  Thomas D

😆 My sister knits all of the time. I’ll suggest this to her, in case she ever gets bored with the usual hats, afghans, etc. 😉 Thanks, Thomas. Have a great day! 😀 -Diane

Theresa Hanes
6 months ago
Reply to  Thomas D

Lol!! Grandma ROCKS!!! If you can’t confirm that family lore it will make it darn hard for anyone to challenge that claim! I’m votin for Grandma!!!👍🏻🙌🏻

8 months ago

Won’t steel wool scratch aluminum wheels? Finer (0000) steel wool doesn’t scratch less than coarser. It just makes finer scratches, doesn’t it?

8 months ago
Reply to  Michael


Tommy Molnar
8 months ago

I use a clump of “copper scrubber” jammed in around my shore power cable to keep unwanted visitors out. Our trailer is the old style that has the power wire attached and stored inside behind that little door.

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