Here is some advice for the cleaning and care of steel maille:
  1. Get a heavy cloth bag large enough to hold the piece you`d like to clean. (Make sure the bag has a tight enough weave so as not to let grains of sand through.)
  2. Put a few cups of dry sand in the bag.
  3. Put the piece in the bag and seal it tight (preferably by sewing it shut).
  4. Seal the bag in a larger bag (strong plastic is fine).
  5. Throw the whole thing into a heavy duty tumble dryer for 30min on cold (no heat).
  6. The resulting maille should be polished shiny and clean.
  7. Carefully wipe the sand off of the piece. Do NOT use water!
NOTE:
  • This will remove rust.
  • If your maille is galvanized, this will remove the galvanization!
  • If your maille is stainless steel, you should never have to do this.
  • (WARNING!!) With extremely heavy pieces, you run the risk of damaging the dryer!!

Use the same setup you do, but with a nail through the hole in the steelrod... bend a section of wire in half and loop it over the nail, thenspin. That way, the rings come out with a sufficient gap, and I never have to widen it. I`ll include a pic of my setup... notice my pinkieseparating the two strands of wire so that they don`t cross each otherand get twisted up. 

In Service to the Craft,
Ronin

I have found that many new armourers on the web are un aware of the most useful repository of armouring knowledge on the web: The Armour Archive. There is a discussion board there that can answer nearly any questions you have. The people there are the the most helpful that I`ve ever found.