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The Dos and Don’ts of Magic Erasers

Gloved hand holding magic eraser

One of the greatest cleaning innovations in the last 20 years has been the “magic eraser” or a melamine foam sponge. It can clean smudges, fingerprints, and scrapes of all kinds off the surfaces in your house where other cleaners won’t work.

There are certain surfaces in your home, however, on which you should never use a magic eraser, and some no-no’s on how to use them.

Don’t Use Them Dry

The beauty of magic erasers is that you don’t need to use any chemical cleaners for them to be effective. Just add water and go to town. Using them dry, however, can do more harm than good as they are much more abrasive when dry and can scratch surfaces. Adding water helps to soften them just enough to work and not cause any unnecessary damage.

To understand why water is so necessary, it helps to know a little bit more about how it works. The main ingredient of a Magic Eraser is melamine, which works as an “extremely fine sandpaper” on surfaces, effectively buffing away stains and stuck-on grime. When activated with water, the microscopic air pockets in melamine become hard, like glass, giving the erasers their effectiveness.

Don’t Use Them On Your Car

Or any other delicate surface, for that matter, like silverware, glass, or metal surfaces. Dry erasers have the abrasiveness of a 3000 grit sandpaper – very fine, but can still mar shiny surfaces – like your stainless steel appliances!

Do Wear Gloves While Using Them

If you have sensitive skin or just a really nice manicure, you’ll want to wear gloves while using a magic eraser. The super fine grit can cause skin burns and remove nail polish with just a few wipes. And while it may be tempting to use one to help remove paint or dirt from your hands, it is better to use a nail brush or other tool to help avoid burns or rashes.


Do A Spot Test First

Magic erasers are great for removing fingerprints from switch plates and doors, but aren't great for glossy painted areas. If you plan to try using one on flat or satin paint, on flooring or tile, test an inconspicuous area first to make sure you are not removing too much of the surface or leaving a dull look behind. If you are in doubt, test first.

Do Not Use On Granite or Marble

If you have soft surface countertops like granite or marble, step away from the magic eraser. You can use them on laminate, Corian, quartz, and other solid surface countertops, but do a spot check.

Don’t Use on Non-Stick Pots and Pans

Dry erasers will remove the non-stick coating and leave you with a mess when you cook, and some of the coating can get into your food.

Don’t Use on Collectibles

Valuable collectibles, such as toys and costume jewelry can lose some of their value if you use a magic eraser to clean off dirt and grime.

Don’t Use on Wood Surfaces

Paneling, furniture, flooring, and even wooden spoons can be damaged by a magic eraser. The water in the sponge can get into the fibers of the wood, especially because you are using an abrasive tool. This can cause swelling and discoloration.

Do Use on Tennis Shoes

You can use a magic eraser to clean white tennis shoes easily and quickly. If you have white leather tennis shoes, test an area first. Do not use one on colored shoes.





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