Glass is a delicate material, and improper cleaning can cause scratches and streaks that will ruin its appearance. Steel wool is a great way to clean glass because it’s abrasive enough to remove dirt and grime but not so harsh that it will scratch the surface of the glass. So how do you clean glass with steel wool? And what kind of steel wool should you use?
Clean glass with super-fine grade #0000 steel wool as it is less likely to scratch the surface because the fibers are so fine. Rub steel wool on wet or dry glass in a back-and-forth or up-and-down motion using light pressure, then wipe away debris with a lint-free cloth.
Let’s look at whether steel wool will scratch glass and when you should use it to clean windows. You’ll also learn about glass-rated steel wool and how to use it properly.
Will Steel Wool Scratch Glass?
The answer to this question is both yes and no; it all depends on the type of steel wool you use.
Coarse steel wool, such as that used for scrubbing pots and pans, will scratch glass. But finer grades of steel wool, such as those used for polishing furniture or cleaning windows (example on Amazon), are less likely to cause scratches.
The type of steel wool you should use for cleaning glass is glass-rated steel wool. It is the finest grade of steel wool and is often labeled “#0000.” With glass-rated steel wool, you can safely remove dirt, grime, and stains from glass without worrying about scratch marks.
Avoiding anything coarser than glass-rated super-fine grade #0000 steel wool is essential. Using other grades of steel wool on glass can scratch the surface and ruin its appearance.
When Should You Use Steel Wool to Clean Windows?
Now that you know which type of steel wool is safe to use on glass, let’s look at when you should reach for this cleaning tool.
If you live in an area with hard water, you may notice a white, chalky substance on your glass shower doors or windows. These are lime deposits or mineral buildup, and it’s difficult to remove with standard cleaning products.
Steel wool can also remove stubborn stains like paint or grease that regular cleaning products can’t remove. Using steel wool on these stains will remove them without scratching the glass.
If your glass is streaked or smeared and other cleaning methods haven’t worked, it’s probably just a buildup of wax or soap. Steel wool will remove this buildup and leave your glass streak-free.
If there are existing scratches or other blemishes on your glass, you can use steel wool to polish them out without causing further damage.
What is Glass-Rated Steel Wool?
Glass-rated grade 0000 steel wool (on Amazon) is the finest available. It is perfect for cleaning glass surfaces because it is softer than other types of steel wool, so you can use it to remove stubborn buildup, sticky residues, and hard water stains.
The super-fine wires in glass-rated steel wool are less likely to scratch surfaces than other types of steel wool.
There are several other types of fine steel wool, including Fine, Very Fine, and Extra Fine, or grades “0,” “00,” and “0000.” These grades are for polishing metal surfaces like stainless steel, aluminum, copper, or brass, so you should avoid using them on glass.
How to Use Steel Wool on Glass
Because all glass is not the same, it’s best to test the steel wool on a small, inconspicuous area before cleaning the entire surface. Doing this will help determine if the steel wool is too harsh for your specific glass.
You can use steel wool on both dry and wet glass. But wet glass may sometimes be easier to clean than dry glass, and, depending on the type of glass, there’s less risk of scratching the surface.
Avoid using steel wool on coated or tinted glass because it can damage the surface.
Note: Moisture can cause steel wool to rust, so dry it well afterward if you’re using it on wet glass. Or, you can use bronze wool (on Amazon), which is rust-resistant.
Hard Water Stains
If you want to remove hard water stains, spray the surface with CLR (on Amazon) or vinegar and water solution to dampen it, then rub the steel wool over the area in a circular motion. Rinse the glass with clean water and dry it with a microfiber cloth. If there are still water spots, you can use the steel wool on the dry glass to wipe them away.
Soap Scum and Dirt
You can treat soap scum, general dirt, and grime with a paste of 3 parts baking soda to 1 part water. Rub the paste on the glass with a dampened sponge and rinse it with clean water. Use your steel wool on any spots that remain.
A detergent solution with dish soap and water can also treat tough stains. Emulsify the solution and apply it to the glass with a sponge, then rub it with steel wool in a circular motion.
Rinse the solution and dry the glass with a clean microfiber cloth. If there are still stains, you can use the steel wool on the dry glass to remove them.