Can You Use Steel Wool On Stainless Steel Pans (Solved)

Steel wool is a valuable household item used for glass, porcelain, wood (not oak), iron cookware, gardening tools, and outdoor furniture. These wire sponges are sold commercially and are popular cleaning and sanding products.


Steel wool isn’t suitable for stainless steel pans. Although stainless steel is sturdy, the fine metal filaments scratch your pan’s surface and ruin it. Also, steel wool leaves tiny metal particles that rust and permanently discolor your cookware. Use a scourer and homemade cleaning solutions.


Steel wool is a versatile product. Homemakers and outdoors enthusiasts rely on the many applications of steel wool to assist them. And of course tablecloths,However, it’s best to avoid abrasive material entirely for stainless steel.

steel wool
steel wool

What Is Steel Wool?

Steel wool or wire sponge came into the market in 1896. It’s a wad of fine, pliable, and prickly steel filaments used as a pad or sponge. Frequently, steel wool refines wood and metal surfaces. One of the primary uses of steel wool is professional cleaning on porcelain or glass material.   


Wire sponges are available in various grades determined by thickness- extra fine to extra course. In some instances, steel wool is sold commercially in pink-colored bristly pads: the US, Mexico, and various places across the globe manufacture steel wool.


These extra fine metal sponges are formed via a process called drawing. They’re constructed from low-grade bronze, aluminum, stainless steel, or carbon steel wire. Drawing produces shavings that consist of thousands of metal fibers- called swarf.


Metal rods are strewn through a machine tool called metal dies or a toothed die. These machines carve into the rods, removing away excess metal. The rod is worked into a strand, and the excess metal peeled from the rod produces a swarf- the threadlike, spiky wire shavings.  


What Is The Corresponding Area Of Use?

Extra fine steel wool with a #0000 grade can be used on glass cooktops. Using the higher coarse-grade sponges will scratch glass. So, ensure your sponge is the finest grade available. Wire sponges are also excellent for glass windows.


A primary advantage of steel wool is that it polishes. It will polish glass and not leave tiny fiber strands from the fabric of a washing cloth. Additionally, it will polish down any scratches caused by tree branches, hail, or other elements. Wire sponges are used for glass shower doors, windshields, mirrors, and vases.   

Rust is a significant problem with outdoor metal furniture and garden tools. Here, extra fine or delicate, coarse-grade sponges with the correct detergent will effectively remove rust and preserve outdoor apparel. Use steel wool on iron cookware- wash with suitable oils (like cooking oil) instead of water. Remember to wash gently yet thoroughly.


The rubber soles of your shoes or sneakers take the most beating of almost anything you own. Wire sponges can help wash them anew. Don’t use steel wires on leather. Additionally, steel sponges will treat scuff marks on your floor.


Extra fine wire sponges  are great for wallpaper. For example, if there are hardened muddy fingerprint marks or Crayola drawings, warm water with a fine steel pad and gentle, delicate sweeps will eliminate these stains.


Disadvantages And Advantages Of Using Steel Wool On Stainless Steel?

There are more disadvantages to using steel wool on stainless steel cookware and pans.

steel wool
steel wool


Disadvantages Of Steel Wool On Stainless Steel


  • Steel wool scratches the surface of stainless steel.
  • The abrasive wire pads remove the finish from the stainless steel.
  • After-Rust- this is when the steel in your wire sponge leaves behind tiny metal shards that are hard to remove and rust.
  • Wire sponges can get rusty, making them unstable and messy.
  • Steel wire cuts your bare hands and leaves tiny metal particles in the cuts.
  • Steel wool is flammable. So, avoid keeping your sponges near batteries or flammable liquids like varnish. Instead, keep your wire brushes in a safe container.
  • Brands like S.O.S.® (Save Our Saucepans) steel wool soap pads contain detergents with sodium nitrate that can cause cardiovascular disease and toxicity in blood and titanium dioxide, which causes cancer.


Advantages Of Steel Wool On Stainless Steel


  • O.S.® steel wool soap / non-scratch pads, and Brilloclaim that these can clean stainless steel. Otherwise, there aren’t any advantages to cleaning stainless steel with steel wool.


Advantages Of Steel Wool On Stainless Steel
Advantages Of Steel Wool On Stainless Steel

Is It Worth Using?

Specific to stainless steel, steel wool is not worth using. That’s a firm no. However, wire sponges are great for other household items like mirrors, glass, windows, floors, iron cookware (with oil, not water), gardening equipment, and outside patio furniture.


You can use steel wool on wooden furniture and floors, as the different coarse-grade options will sand and refine your pieces. Use something other than wire sponges on oak. Iron traces in the wire sponge react with the tannin in the oak. The reaction will cause a dark blue or black permanent stain.


Another essential aspect to remember is never to use wire pads with your bare hands. These steel sponges will cut into your hands and separate minute metal particles deep into those cuts. It can be painful and challenging to clean. Wear heavy-duty kitchen gloves.


Is There Any Other Way To Clean Stainless Steel Pans?

Yes, there is another way to clean stainless steel pans quickly and effectively. Even the heavier grime and burnt food material build-up are manageable with minimum fuss.


Cleaning a stainless steel pan requires soaking in warm water, non-abrasive detergent, a soft sponge, a scourer, and a plastic spatula.


Before you soak the pan, gently wipe away excess food oil and grime, you can use a scourer or plastic spatula. Then run your pan under hot water. Soak it in soapy water for 20 – 45 minutes.


Following the soak, wash and wipe the soft sponge along the grain of the pan to avoid scratching. Rinse with warm water. After rinsing, buff dry with a clean towel. Again, go with the grain.


Cleaning A Burnt Stainless Steel Pan

Unfortunately, there are times when hot water isn’t enough. Try to avoid abrasive chemical detergents. Some home recipes will work effectively and not risk the pan’s finish.


  • Bicarbonate of soda or baking soda– Add a tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda to a cup of warm water. Add more onto the pan’s surface if required. Use the abrasive side of a sponge and wipe in circular motions following the grain. Leave the paste overnight if needed. Rinse with warm soapy water.


  • Lime and salt– This is a natural way to clear burned food. Cut the lime and squeeze the citrus juice onto the pan’s surface. Then, add coarse or fine salt and form a paste. Allow the combination to break down the residual grime. Add more salt or lime if needed. Then, use a scouring brush (not steel wool) and scrub along the grain. Rinse with warm soapy water.


  • Oxygen bleach powder/liquid– Wipe away excess material with a plastic spatula, soak, and then rinse under warm water. Following this, fill your pan with ¾ hot water. Add ¼ oxygen bleach powder or liquid. Place your pan on a heated stove plate and gently stir. The heat will dissolve the bleach. After the water reaches boiling point, switch off the stove and cover the pan. Allow it to sit for 30 minutes. Scourer pan and rinse with warm water.


  • Vinegar for discolored cookware– The acetic acid in vinegar is the best household solution for your discolored pan. You can soak the sponge in vinegar and wipe the pan. Alternately soak the pan in vinegar for ten minutes. Next, rinse off the vinegar in warm water and then wash with hot soapy water.


Valuable Tips To Care For Your Stainless Steel Pan

The following is a list of ways to maintain your stainless steel pan.


  • Ensure you wipe along the grain or pattern of your cookware.
  • First, heat the pan to medium temperature and then pour oil, creating a non-stick environment on its surface.
  • Pat food dry with a paper towel before you cook.
  • Prevent water patches by drying the pan immediately with a clean towel. Additionally, baking soda helps with water spots.
  • Add salt only to boiling water. If you add it before, it’ll cause corrosion and create dents in the pan’s surface.
  • You can always place your stainless steel pan in the dishwasher if it states it’s safe.


What You Can Do With Steel Wool

The following list describes the best uses for steel wool.


  • Sharpen scissors and knives
  • Remove rust
  • Fasten screws/ wrap the loose screw in steel wool
  • Cork drafty air vents and rodent holes
  • Prevent drain clogging
  • Prepare and sand wood
  • Start a fire
  • Cold bluing handguns
  • Recondition metals
  • Get rid of shoe cuffs
  • Clean glass and mirrors



You can’t use steel wool on stainless steel pans. Steel wool will damage, scratch, and ruin your stainless steel pan. Another problem with steel wool is that it leaves tiny steel particles on your cookware. These then rust (after-rust) and discolor your pan. Instead, use a scouring pad on your stainless-steel pad and various home remedies.

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