Magic Erasers (also generically known as melamine foam) are kind of amazing. Not only can they clean everything from grout to oven doors to tennis shoes, when purchased by the 8-pack, these sponge-shaped pads usually break down to about a $1 a pop. They are designed for cleaning hard-to-scrub surfaces in hard-to-reach places.
Unfortunately, however, sometimes these one-handed wonders can work a little too well—particularly on polished and easily scratched areas. So before you get carried away cleaning your place with a melamine foam, read ahead for seven things you definitely don’t want to ever do with them.
1. Don’t use them dry
Part of the magic of these erasers is that all you have to do is add water to activate them. However, it turns out that these plushy pads are even more abrasive—and can therefore, do more damage—when dry, so adding water actually helps soften them.
2. Don’t use them to polish your car (or any delicately painted surface)
Don’t let the soft texture of the foam fool you; once it gets wet, it has the abrasiveness of 3000 grit sandpaper. That’s why it’s important to avoid using them on finely painted surfaces, like your car, or else you’ll end up with a way worse problem than bird poop.
3. Don’t use them without gloves
Considering the fact that melamine foam pads can tackle anything from scruffs on walls to stovetops, it’s no surprise that these petite powerhouses can also burn your skin. Make sure to always wear a pair of gloves while using your magic eraser and never ever use it directly on your skin.
4. Don’t use them to clean delicate countertops
Forget the fact that these spongy pads feel plush; they’re actually insanely abrasive. That’s why you should avoid using it on granite and marble counters (and any other fine stone surfaces) or else you’ll run the risk of removing the sealant and making the surface appear dull.
5. Don’t use them to wipe down nonstick pots and pans
If you thought they could be used exactly like a dish sponge, then think again. Employing these heavy duty cleaners to wipe down nonstick pots and pans will only scratch their surface—and release pesky chemicals from the coating into your food instead.
7. Don’t try to brighten stainless steel
Unless you privy yourself a “gentle wiper,” it’s probably best to avoid using your the pad on any stainless steel surfaces throughout your home. Too much scrubbing can cause the high gloss finish that seals most stainless stainless steel appliances to break down, resulting in a dulled and sometimes scratched patina.
7. Don’t use them on anything without spot testing first
This one may seem like a no brainer but when in doubt about whether your melamine foam pad is safe to use, simply do a spot test. Just as you should with any new cleaning product, test a small area with the eraser before using it on an entire surface.
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