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Tip of the Month

Tip of the Month!

Cleaning and Erasing Stains with Melamine Foam Sponges (A.K.A. Magic Erasers)


Years ago it was discovered that melamine foam could be used as an effective abrasive cleaner. The open cell foam is micro porous and its polymeric substance is very hard, meaning its inner fibers are very thin, so it works like extremely fine sandpaper. The Mr. Clean Magic Eraser that we are all familiar with was first introduced in 2002 by Proctor & Gamble and quickly became a popular household cleaning product.

Melamine foam erasers only need water to effectively clean stains making them convenient to use. By slightly dampening the foam sponge, it can be used to clean crayon, marker, and grease from a painted wall, stains from baseboards and floors, and scuffs on just about any surface. It is also very useful for getting into small grooves where stains tend to settle. The Magic eraser can be used repeatedly but will wear slowly with each use. It may leave behind a residue as it reacts to the surface being cleaned but this is easily cleaned away with water.

Precautions when using melamine foam erasers

Ask for a copy of the SDS sheet first and review it for manufacturer's recommendations and cautions before using melamine foam erasers. Be careful when using them, as they can damage surfaces like some leathers, delicate surfaces, coatings and finishes. Always use it with water, do not press too hard, and make sure to test the surface first in an inconspicuous area.

Never use melamine foam (magic eraser) to clean skin, animal fur, glossy, brushed, satin or dark painted surfaces including appliances; and never use on delicate fabrics. It is not appropriate for paneling or wood finished surfaces.Remember, it's aggressive and abrasive, and it can ruin the finish on some surfaces like shiny countertops. Melamine foam has been known to leave dull patches on paint, giving a wall, for example, a somewhat blotchy look. It should not be used on finished wood surfaces, as it can easily mark or remove the wood finish. After using melamine foam, you should wipe the spot you've cleaned with a damp cloth to remove any leftover residue from the eraser.

The Magic Eraser may seem like the perfect cleaning tool but there are a few precautions associated with the foam eraser. If the surface being cleaned is not suitably hard, it can be scratched. Overuse can slowly wear away a finish that is cleaned repeatedly as the “fine sandpaper” sands away the finish or paint. Again, it's always recommended to test the item first if using it on delicate finishes.

According to Mr. Clean, the magic eraser contains no harsh chemicals although some claim it can cause chemical burns to the skin. This happened to a child who was using it to clean walls and decided to use it on his own skin. The child literally sanded away skin cells causing “burns”. According to the Mayo Clinic, the Magic Eraser can scrape and chafe the skin when rubbed directly on the skin but when used as intended, the melamine should not cause burning.

Although there may be an infinite number of ways to clean using melamine foam, here are 100 to start with. And remember, as with all cleaning products and chemicals, be sure to test it first in an inconspicuous area to make sure it won't damage or remove the color and/or finish of the item or surface to be cleaned.


* Use with caution on certain surfaces

1. Boat hulls
2. House siding
3. Gutters
4. Baseboards
5. Bath tubs
6. Shower stalls
7. Kitchen cabinets *
8. Appliances *
9. Windows
10. Walls *
11. Sinks *
12. Remove heavy soil build up on plastic car mats
13. Metal chairs
14. Clean window screens
15. Remove soap scum
16. Remove mild hard water spots
17. Cleaning scuffs from white tennis shoes
18. Removing carbon from pan bottoms
19. Removing coffee & tea stains in a mug, carafe, or thermos
20. Cleaning the plastic agitator inside your washing machine
21. Clean grout
22. Clean the jets on a jetted tub
23. Clean dirt from rough places in bottom of tubs
24. Shower racks and shelving
25. Soap dispensers
26. Soap bowls
27. Shower heads
28. Shower curtain rods
29. Towel bars
30. Linoleum floors
31. Grills
32. No-wax floors
33. Boat seats
34. Vinyl convertible tops
35. Dish washer (rinse with water after cleaning)
36. Remove permanent marker
37. Vehicle rims (white walls)
38. Bikes
39. Pet cages
40. Metal crates
41. Plastic carriers (totes)
42. Leather shoes *
43. Leather purses *
44. Leather luggage *
45. Remove scuffs on floor
46. Remove pen marks
47. Remove dirt buildup
48. Plastic waste cans
49. Stains on office desk and tables
50. Dry-erase boards
51. Ceramic tile
52. Pet dishes
53. Remove dried on food
54. Pot scuffs inside sink
55. Remove coffee stains
56. Microwave (rinse with water after cleaning)
57. Sink faucets
58. Cabinet handles
59. Burnt on grime on stove top
60. Granite countertop
61. Finished stone surfaces
62. Vinyl chairs
63. Vinyl shutters
64. Vinyl siding
65. Remove rust stains
66. Mirrors
67. Plastic storage containers
68. Plastic drawer organizers
69. Trash cans
70. Door trim
71. Crayon marks on wall*
72. Interior trim
73. Doors
74. Plastic balls
75. Dolls
76. Figurines
77. Play sets
78. Booster seats
79. Plastic toys (rinse with water after cleaning)
80. Hot tubs
81. Swimming pools
82. Sports equipment
83. Athletic shoes
84. Automotive interiors
85. Lawn furniture
86. Vinyl fencing
87. Telephones
88. Ladders (metal and fiberglass)
89. Step stools
90. Cleaning equipment
91. Pet carriers
92. Shower drains
93. Floor mop sinks
94. Utility sinks
95. Canoes
96. Decks (no maintenance)
97. Plastic chairs
98. Metal signs
99. Light diffusers
100. Exercise equipment