The Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is truly magical: The foamy sponge introduced by Procter & Gamble in 2003 can make just about any stain disappear. But exactly how many Magic Eraser uses are there for the home? And why the heck do they work so well, anyway? Read on for everything you ever wanted to know about this nifty cleaning tool.
How does the Magic Eraser work?
According to Morgan Brashear, who heads up consumer insights & products research at P&G, the key ingredient in the Magic Eraser (and similar products such as the Easy Erasing Pad) is melamine foam. Although this substance might feel soft in your hand, at the microscopic level, melamine consists of tiny fibers that are almost as hard as glass. Because of their small size, strands of melamine can easily fit into the tiny grooves and pits of just about any surface you want to scour, removing gunk that shouldn't be there. And because the filaments are so small, they won't mess with the actual surface you're trying to clean.
In essence, the Magic Eraser works like extremely fine sandpaper—tough on stains, but gentle on what's underneath.
Magic Eraser uses around the house
There are a gazillion dirty things the Magic Eraser can clean. Here are some of them:
- Kids' crayon art on walls
- Grease and rust on kitchen sinks
- Grease and grime on the stovetop, backsplash tile, and grout
- Soap scum on shower doors
- Bathtub rings
- Scuffs and dirt on base molding and toe kicks
- Ash buildup on fireplace mantel
- Smudges on light switches and plates (best to use the pad dry rather than wet around electric lights)
- Dirty tennis/running shoes
- Coffee/tea stains in mugs and glass pots
- Wine stains on coasters
- Dried paint on hardware like hinges and knobs
- Tarnish on silver (use some elbow grease)
- Spatters inside the microwave
- Adhesive after tearing off stickers
- Gunky range hoods
- Grills with baked-on sauce
- Toilet bowl rings
- Bird poop on cement and porcelain birdbaths
- Crud around washing machine detergent wells
- Grass stains on shoes and boots
- Mildew on patio furniture, tents, and plastic play sets
- Permanent marker on laminate surfaces
- Bugs on car windshields and grilles
- Fingerprints on computer keys and mouse (use dry)
- Grime and God-knows-what-else on kids' plastic toys (be sure to rinse thoroughly)
- Starch and other gunk on irons
- Marker residue on dry-erase boards
- Algae on the inside of fish tanks and birdbaths
- Water stains and mold on the inside of plastic pools
6 things not to clean with the Magic Eraser
The Magic Eraser isn’t good for everything. The product’s abrasive fibers can scratch or damage certain surfaces, including the following:
- Boat and car finishes
- Nonstick coating on pots and pans
- Vinyl-coated fabric
- Stainless-steel appliances and anything with a high gloss
- Granite and marble counters—these sponges can remove the sealant, making the surface dull
- Human skin—weird, we know, but people are willing to try anything in their quest for a great exfoliant (It burns or abrades skin, so use it to clean only your house)
When in doubt, “as with any cleaning product, we recommend testing a small area before using on an entire surface,” Brashear says.
3 renovations the Magic Eraser can spare you
Alas, unlike a sponge, an eraser wears out quickly, eventually shredding into little white bits. Still, using several erasers to clean something is less costly and aggravating than having to renovate or replace the item.
Compare the cost of a box of erasers ($12 for a box of 10) with these common home improvements that the sponges can easily solve:
- Repainting a disgustingly smudged door: $100
- Reglazing a stained bathtub: $400 to $500
- Replacing a greasy, stained gas cooktop: $100 to $2,000
Here's another smart tip: To get more mileage from one pad, cut it into several pads and use each minipad for small jobs like cleaning shoes.
So, in the end, the magic in the Magic Eraser really has to do with all the time, money, and (let's be frank) agony it'll save you in your quest to make your home a better place!