How to clean your shower, your car and even your pepper mill with the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser (Melamine Sponges)
I used to hate cleaning the shower. The built up soap scum on the walls and the glass doors seemed to be nearly impossible to remove. People said to use vinegar - that didn't work. Abrasive cleaners didn't do much better. We bought foul smelling chemicals that I was really afraid to breathe and even they barely touched the stuff. Yes, you could eventually get it off, but it was very unpleasant hard work.
Recently my wife brought home a package of Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. She actually bought them for some other cleaning task that a friend had recommended them for, but I decided to try them in the shower.
First of all, these things really work. They remove the soap scum almost instantly and almost effortlessly and all you need to use with them is a little water. Note: they don't need to be soaking wet, but they do need to be dampened!
There are no smelly chemicals. This is an abrasive (that's why it works) but it is like incredibly fine and soft sandpaper. Softer than any abrasive you have ever used, yet magically more effective - you have to see this in action to believe it!
Our shower was normal looking the first time I did this. It seemed to be clean, but there was soap scum build-up. As I rubbed with the Magic Eraser, balls of scum appeared. Some of that was the eraser itself wearing away, but the rest was the gunk from the shower. It washed away easily and our shower was clean.
Since then, I just do a quick wipe down with this before I take my morning shower. It is very quick, because there is no build up. There is virtually no effort - no more trouble than it would be to quickly run over the surfaces with a damp sponge. You can feel any spot where the scum has started to build up and give that a little extra swipe, but this is really not like work at all. Effectively, there is no more cleaning the shower because this small amount of attention I give it daily keeps it spotless.
There was a rumor that these had been banned from stores because of formaldehyde. They do not contain that chemical, and according to Snopes, have not been banned and are not dangerous.
I was slow to realize how many other uses these things have around the house. The package talked about cleaning things like crayon marks off walls; it has been many decades since anyone has been writing on our walls with crayons. I did use them to swipe out the bathroom sinks now and then, but those never get really dirty like the shower.
These are made from melamine foam. Yes, melamine is the same stuff that is used to make dishes at one time, but this is foam. According to Wikipedia, the foam has been used as insulation for sometime, but its cleaning abilities were only recently noticed.
Understand that it cleans because it is an abrasive. A very fine abrasive yes, but it has at least the potential to rub away a surface you only meant to clean. In my experience, it is hard to damage anything with it, but of course you should always test in an inconspicuous area first.
You definitely do not use this on finished wood, marble, granite, glossy or satin-finished surfaces. I have used it on Corian, though. You can't use it on fabric, but it does a great job on almost anything plastic or vinyl.
However: I did use it very gently and carefully on some dark stained wood that had been scratched. I did so quite gingerly in a hidden area first, because I really expected it to ruin the surface. However, it did not, so I was able to use it to gently polish out some dings that were exposed. I'd suggest being very, very cautious!
At the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Fan Site, people have posted their experiences with all sorts of difficult cleaning jobs. I looked through there and realized that there are many more places I can use this. You might also check the list of uses at a competing product, Extreme Sponge.
I have been disgusted by the bottom of the car door and the gas cap release lever. I have tried cleaning these areas with various things but have had little luck. The pictures at the right show an amazing difference after just a few quick passes - I have barely spent any time at all on this and the immediate improvement is obvious.
You can clean the dash, the steering wheel, even the seats.
I was very pleased with the windshield. The scum that builds up there is extraordinarily resistant to cleaning - Windex barely touches it unless you scrub and scrub. I ran over it with the Magic Eraser and it squeaked instantly. I could see the difference immediately and, as I have grown to expect, there was no real scrubbing; this is no more work than wiping with a sponge.
I haven't tried it for hubcaps or tires yet, but I have seen that people recommend it for that.
Black scuff marks from shoes came right off. If you look at the after picture, you might notice a black scuff mark on the tub itself, above the molding. I didn't notice that until I looked at these photos - I went back and it was gone with just one easy swipe!
I hate to use so many exclamation marks, but I am just very excited by how easy these Magic Erasers are to use and what an incredibly good job they do.
Look at the top of that pepper mill. Sure, we "cleaned" it regularly, so I suppose it was sanitary enough, but it hasn't looked like this in years.
I cleaned up rust off old tools with this. Yes, I could do that with steel wool, but this is easier. A few of our stainless steak knives were in fact stained; this shined them right up without leaving the scratch marks that something more abrasive would have caused.
You probably have a plastic silverware divider in one of your kitchen drawers, right? It gets dirty over time, which you can clean, but it can also get stains that don't just wash off. These things dig out the stains.
Outside House Cleaning
I clean the vinyl siding every year. Mold is SO hard to get off but it almost just wipes away with these sponges!
There are surely many other uses I just haven't thought of yet. If you have not tried this stuff, I highly recommend that you do. You will love it!
The only complaint I have is the cost. It's quite the consumer rip off.
I think my wife paid a little over $4.00 for just two thin sponges. I have seen packages of 50 on E-Bay for less than $10.00 -those were at Korean sellers which makes me hesitate to purchase; U.S. sellers seem to have more expensive brand names, but still much less than $2.00 each.
My feeling is that the Korean price is probably still giving the manufacturer a good profit. As consumers understand that the "Magic Eraser" is nothing more than a melamine foam sponge, I would expect competition and sharp price reductions. However, even at $2.00, these work so well that they are worth buying.
We found a generic version at Sponge Outlet.
These are a bit less dense than the "Magic Eraser" brand, so they won't last quite as long, but at 50 cents vs. $2.00 each, a little less dense is fine - they still work just as well.
We gave two of these to our neighbor. She just called and said her husband used them to clean up some grease stains on their stove that have resisted all cleaning efforts for years. She also used them on her walls and a pewter teapot. She called to tell me that she is ordering the 100 pack because she wants to give them to her children too!
Update Sept 24, 2010: I just found a new use - cleaning coffee and tea stains from the inside of ceramic mugs. Perfect!
Yet another use: scrubbing leather handbag handles. This is one where yiu would want to test carefully first, though.
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