23 Magic Eraser Tricks That Make Dirt Disappear

Magic Eraser Tricks That Make Dirt Disappear

I’ve been a big fan of Mr. Clean Magic Erasers for years now — in fact, they are one of the essential supplies I recommend for spring cleaning. After I bought my first package, they sat forgotten under my kitchen sink for quite some time. One day my son Kell was looking for something to clean his golf shoes. I wasn’t sure what to tell him until I remembered those Magic Erasers under the sink. I told him to try one, and it worked like MAGIC!

It made me curious about just how these babies work, and it turns out the answer is pretty darn interesting.

Check out these magic eraser tricks in action in my video at the end of the post!

What Are Magic Erasers, And How Do Magic Erasers Work?

Magic Erasers are sponges made of melamine foam, which have been used for decades as an insulation and soundproofing material. About ten years ago, some smarty-pants discovered that melamine foam was also an effective abrasive cleaner! It works because when melamine resin cures into foam, its microstructure becomes almost as hard as glass – causing it to act like super-fine sandpaper on stains. The abrasive foam loosens up dirt and grime, and the open microstructure of the foam sucks it in and traps it there. Neat, right?

While a magic sponge will work when it’s dry, adding some water makes the job of cleaning tough messes a little easier. It’s similar to getting a washcloth wet before scrubbing the kitchen counter.

The only drawback I’ve found regarding these erasers is that much like a pencil eraser, they will break down and fall apart as they are used. However, I’ve found that a small piece of Magic Eraser works just as well as a larger piece, so you end up getting a lot more use out of each sponge if you cut it up into smaller pieces.

That one little tip will extend the life of each eraser dramatically and keep costs low for you. Another way to keep costs down is to avoid brand name erasers (like Mr. Clean Magic Erasers) and buy generic ones. I like to get my melamine foam erasers in bulk online! We buy them in packs of 20. They cost about $0.20 less per eraser than the name brand ones, and work just as well, in our opinion!

Are Magic Erasers Safe?

It’s so hard to find a cleaning product that can do such a good job without using chemicals. This little cleaning scrubber is just that. If you’re still worried about the safety of a melamine foam sponge, here are a few facts to help put you at ease.

  • The ingredients in Magic Eraser have been safely and commonly used for many years in a wide range of household products and are considered non-toxic.
  • No ingredients are subject to any health-related labeling laws in North America or Europe.
  • Formaldehyde is not and never has been an ingredient in Magic Eraser. One ingredient in Magic Eraser (formaldehyde-melamine-sodium bisulfite copolymer) contains the word “formaldehyde” in its chemical name. However, this ingredient is not formaldehyde and poses no health or safety risks.

How To Use Magic Erasers

To use a magic eraser, add water to the sponge, squeeze as much water out as you can, scrub the surface with light pressure, and watch the grime disappear.

Magic erasers work extremely well as  a wall cleaner. I use them to remove scuff marks on my walls and baseboards. Every once in a while, I tackle all my baseboards, and every time they end up looking practically brand new!

  • Remove marker, pen, and crayon marks off high touch areas (like walls, light switches, and furniture.
  • Remove sticker and label residue.
  • Clean those notoriously hard-to-clean fiberglass shower floors.
  • Polish your silver jewelry, and remove tarnish from jewelry and silver utensils.
  • Clean residue off-dry erase marker boards. (You can remove permanent marker from whiteboards, too!)
  • Remove scuff marks, pen marks, and dirt build-up on leather couches, shoes, purses, and luggage.
  • Clean countertops and other finished surfaces. (Always perform a spot test first, or check with your countertop manufacturer.)
  •  
  • Remove spray paint from vandals or mischievous 3 year olds!
  • Clean keyboards, mouses, and other electronics. Use on everything except the screen!
  • Remove scum from your shower and glass door.
  • Remove stains on clothing.
  • Scrub tile grout.
  • Clean grease from stovetops.
  • Remove coffee, tea, and kool-aid stains from countertops. Be especially careful when it comes to granite and marble countertops – scrubbing too hard could remove the sealant.
Magic erasers
  • Clean microfiber couches and chairs.
  • Remove scuff marks on shoes, as well as scuff marks on the floor.
Magic erasers
  • Scrub your plastic and metal patio furniture.
  • Clean car interiors, exteriors, wheels, and paint scratches.
  • Clean RV’s and boats, inside and out.
Magic erasers
  • Remove bugs that are stuck on cars, windshields, house siding, etc. (Always spot test on glossy finishes, and rub very gently.)
Magic erasers
  • Remove ink and paint stains from hands.
  • Sprinkle some baking soda into your toilet bowl and use the magic eraser to clean toilet bowl stains without harsh chemicals.

Check out these and other magic eraser tips in action:

How did we live without these magical cleaners?

Read This Next


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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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Homekeeping Tips

  • While I’m not a huge fan of magic erasers, in general, the best use by far I have for them is removing haze from the car’s interior window glass, as well as removing road film from the exterior glass. Not if you had them tinted! But for regular automotive glass, just use a pretty wet eraser (put down a cloth for drips) on the glass, then follow up with your favorite automotive glass cleaner. It doesn’t take but a few minutes to get all the interior haze and exterior road film off the glass. Learned this from a detailer. ETA: Wet with water…

  • DO NOT use them on your Formica counter!! I ruined a big circle spot on mine with the magic eraser. It took the shine right off. I have tried several products to bring back the shine but I still have a circle spot that is dull.

  • One warning for those of us with sensitive skin: if you’re tackling a lot of cleaning projects with Magic Erasers, use gloves! While the sponge is scrubbing the stain, it’s also scrubbing your delicate fingertips!

  • I’d be reluctant to be throwing away non biodegradable materials without checking whether cloths (old t-shirts etc) and environmentally friendly cleaning products would do the same job. Have tried magic erasers but wouldn’t find it easy in most instances to work with a tiny cube of this product. A white board will wipe clean with a dry cloth and I clean my trainer soles easily with water and non bio washing up liquid. Same would apply to previous info on your site Jillee about hygiene re ordinary household sponges. Suggestions about how to clean them are fine but the suggestion to discard frequently isn’t environmentally friendly. Again, what’s wrong with using biodegradable/recyclable cloths? I don’t mean to sound like a moany bah humbug person and love all the good stuff you share with us, just wonder if we should think more about the planet we’re all wrecking?

  • Wondering about Formica as I read the comments. This place was built in 1980 so I guess the counters are original. If there are rings, I’ve used bleach which works. I have Mop & Glo so I think I’ll apply that to keep it cleaner for a longer period. Car wax might be a good option.

  • I think the trick is to use light to little pressure. Now they have them for bathtubs. I seem to have a permanent ring (yet I only use the shower). I bought the new ones, followed the directions and yes, they soap up but the soap lasts for one use. After that, all you have left is a Magic Eraser! I tried the broom & Dawn, Jilllee’s recipe and still can’t remove it. I also use a squeege after I shower and I’ve given up. I guess it’s there to stay.

    • Have you tried Barkeeper’s friend Lesley (maybe a year on, you’ve replaced your bath!) need to use gently if you bath is acrylic but maybe worth a try.

  • Do NOT use magic erasers on Formica countertop. It takes the shine right off. I ruined mine and it just makes me sick every time I see that dull circle on my big countertop. I was able to use a spray countertop wax on it to help take a little of the dull away, but I still see it daily. Highly recommend NOT attempting it.

  • I love the sponges for cleaning our pool! Wish they had a bigger sponge for pool liner! Best cleaner I have found for keeping trim white & removing unseen dirt from liner above water level. I used 4-6 small sponges weekly/biweekly to keep pool sparkling clean. Removes more than just brushing or the expense blue cleaner!

  • Can I use them on a wooden swing that has a build up of wax? I want to get the wax off. I’ve tried buffing it off with a rag. It worked, but sooo much work !

    • Toothpaste! Any paste (not gel) will work wonderfully. Just apply about a tablespoon, then scrub it around with a toothbrush. Wipe clean with a towel, and your headlights will look amazing!

  • My cat likes to rub her face on the corners of the cabinets which leaves an oily residue..magic erasers clean it right off. I use an older one so I can throw it away after use.

  • My Mom rehabbed at my house for 2 mos. after a broken thigh bone (she’s 92). What a mess was left on my hardwood floors from the new wheelchair! And the scrapes and marks on the doors and frames! Fortunately, my BIL works for an assisted living center and told me about these erasers. BOOM! One swipe and the rubber marks on the floors and walls were gone! Next I’m going to try them or maybe Barkeeper’s Friend on my glass shower doors.

  • I have used both branded and unbranded erasers on my slightly textured wallpaper to remove old cigarette smoke from the walls of my room left by the previous tenant. I had to go over each section 3 times before the sponge rinsed clean. I know each type of wallpaper is different, but this worked better than anything for me,

  • I used magic eraser to clean my house siding (a light grey color) and it worked wonderfully! I was
    very happy with the results and would certainly recommend it.

  • Would these work on mildew stains? We have a major lack of ventilation in the bathroom in our apartment and end up with patches of mildew stains that never seem to get completely clean, and I hate using all those chemicals.

    • An air purifier is the best for mold and mildew . One that put out oxygen is ideal but if not that vinegar should help. Bleach works great also but ventilation is key.

    • It will definitely help! I would use a magic eraser to rid the area of mildew and any other visible issues, then follow up with a mild bleach solution to kill all the germs :-)

      • Thanks! I’ll try the bleach after I get it clean.
        I realize that ventilation is key, unfortunately, being in an apartment, there’s only so much we can do, and we don’t have much space or outlets to put in additional fans and such. We do what we can but it’s not enough

  • I agree that the magic eraser is a great product. I would advise that if you use one, some people may want to wear gloves. I had to remove several black scuff marks from a wall and it worked wonderfully, however afterward I noticed my fingers felt a bit of a burning pain. Washing and rinsing my hand didn’t seem to help, and my fingertips were very red. Several hours later they felt better, but it taught me to wear my kitchen rubber gloves whenever I use it.

    • I think it depends on the surface. If you wet a melamine sponge it provides less friction. If I were removing a stain from a microfiber sofa, I would use it dry. On hard surfaces, I use it dry first, then wet. As you can see, I don’t know the answer to your question. These are just my thoughts.

  • Hi Jillee. While gardening, I accidentally hurt a finger. I didn´t notice until I saw blood stains on my shirt. I´ve tried all sorts of products and the stains are still visible. Baking soda, washing soda, lemon juice, salt, Tide pens. Nothing worked. Any suggestioins?

  • I’ve used them to get the bugs off my car with no problem. You just can’t scrub really hard. Let the eraser do the work. Cheap ones fall apart faster than Mr Clean. It’s all I use now to clean windows. Just scrub and dry with paper towels. It’s the only thing I’ve found that cleans my pool steps. As for the environment, I use them till there’s nothing left.

  • So it’s just the sponge doing the work? There’s no “magic cleaning solution” on them?
    I’ve never used them but am excited to try them now.

  • Concerning the use on glass top stoves: I prefer to clean those with Barkeeper’s Friend and a regular sponge. The sponges clean the glass top better w/o leaving streaks.

    • Barkeeper’s Friend is far more abrasive than Magic Erasers, so repeated use of Barkeeper’s Friend on glass top stoves will dull the finish much quicker.

  • You can get a purple cleaning rag sets from shop.flylady.net. I think they are made with the same material but reusable. They work just as great!!

  • I love magic erasers but be careful! They are abrasive. Please don’t use them on your car exterior unless you don’t care about your paint job!

  • I have strongly believed in Magic Erasers for many years now. Whenever someone informs me of a stain they are unable to get out I quickly tell them Magic Eraser. I have even used them on carpet stains. I live in senior housing. There have been many tenants here before me. Unfortunately, even some that did not clean quite well. Therefore, I am playing with the idea of a thinner magic eraser being made to fit a swiffer mop.
    Hopefully, I will get some agreement on this idea from others and this will become a reality. I now feel, why attempt using anything else? Go straight to the magic eraser. Sue Card

  • Awww.. Too bad this is a repeat article. I’m in love with magic erasers and thought maybe ya came up with new and more ideas. Anyway, do be careful on skin. Its like a soft micro-abrasive sandpaper and you don’t notice it removing skin till it’s too late.

  • I could never get the shower pan clean and these miracles cleaned it right up!! Thanks Jillee!! You are amazing! I look forward to your post everyday!! You are a genius!!

  • If u had a drop of Dawn dishwashing soap to the magic eraser it works even better and takes grease off in a flash!! Great article. Thank you for writing it

  • Usually new products are well advertised–not Magic Eraser. In all the years it’s been out, I’ve never tried it, knowing nothing about it. But thanks to you, I’m now anxious to. I’m partially disabled, and this may save me much “wear and tear”. Thank you, Jillee!

    • It is the best and most versatile cleaning product on the market. Proctor and Gamble doesn’t advertise it because they don’t want it to compete with their other products which do not work as well! There is a company called http://www.spongeoutlet.com that sells the identical product as the Magic Eraser for as little as $0.29 per sponge with free shipping. They are not those flimsy, potentially dangerous Chinese knock-offs.

  • I do like these magic erasers, however I attempted to remove scuff marks from a painted wall and the paint rubbed off along with the scuff marks. Tried it again on the same surface and used less elbow grease, and still, it removed the paint. Suggest a test rub in an inconspicuous area.

    • It’s basically just super fine sandpaper, so it basically is removing the top layers of the surface. Usually that means the dirt, but it can sand away the paint/finish/etc also.

    • If your bath tub was reglazed professionally you will want to check if use of product will void any warranty. The company we used for our bathtub resurfacing prohibits use of magic erasers.

  • I customize dolls as a hobby. The erasers are great for taking the shine and make up (painted) on plastic faces to give the girls a more natural look.

  • Yes beware using it on the skin! They will take off layers of skin very easily. My 2 year old drew all over her face with a perm marker and I used one to take the stains off but ended up giving her a terrible road rash type scab all over her poor face! The ink came off like magic – but so did her skin! Mother of the year moment I know….

  • Using it on the floor will also remove the finish on the floor. Also if using on floors, be sure to scrub the residue off completely or your new wax finish will not take.

    • I ruined my formica table top using this eraser. It ruined the surface in several places and I tried to restore the shine but couldn’t.

  • Another great thing to do with them is clean your iron sole plate. Gets everything off it.

    Wet magic eraser thoroughly. Squeeze out water so it isn’t dripping. Lay on towel. ‘Iron’ over it firmly, back and forth with a hot iron. If the iron is really bad turn sponge over for a clean area. Will take off fusibles, starch build up etc.

    Don’t try to do it with a piece in your hand and rubbing the sole plate. You will get steam burns as the eraser gets really hot.

  • A caution about using it on skin. I had a boss years ago who used it to try to remove housepaint from her skin. She ended up with a road-rash-style abrasion because it literally took off the skin.

  • Another hint for the erasers is NOT to soak then with water. Just spray them lightly with water from a spray bottle – that’s all the moisture you need to clean anything!

  • Another couple of uses for eraser sponges. I use on doors around handles & on metal storm door too. They work to clean white synthetic kitchen cupboards & cabinets. Any place where you touch walls, around electric switches & light/fan wall switches. Just have to get motivated.

    • hi, Mary, I know what you’re talking about. Some pads come with a course blue side. I’m not sure that’s the magic eraser part. The white foam part is definitely the Magic Eraser. I think the blue may be a different material, designed to just lift as much surface crud as possible then use the white side for real cleaning. For me, the blue side seems like a regular scrubby, doesn’t seem to have the same properties as the white side, but I could be wrong. :)

  • Sounds like this would be great for cleaning outdoor tools — shovels, trowels, etc. Since I haven’t tried it, I can’t say for sure. I bought a package 2 years ago and then I didn’t know what to use them for. Now I have lots of uses!

  • There are a couple of different kinds of white marker boards, & I know from experience that Magic Eraser will ruin one of them! The boards that are made of particle board & coated with the white board material don’t stand up to Magic Eraser.

  • I would hesitate using Magic Eraser on skin. My friend’s daughter had a kg teacher use a Magic Eraser to get permanent marker off of her arm. The girl ended up with a burn on her arm. It looked like it was a chemical burn and looked like it was not just caused by friction. Maybe adult skin isn’t as sensitive — I don’t know, but I would be cautious.

  • I love it to get the corners of my white cabinets cleaned off where my cat rubs her face and marks them and the best to clean off my ceramic stove top. 12 years old and it looks brand new.

    • Thanks for this suggestion — really good buy, but read the comments first. Sounds like they are good for light to medium use, but fall apart quickly under heavy use — maybe not as tough as what’s available in this country. (These come direct from China.) I haven’t tried them, so I don’t know. One of the comments there suggests that Home Depot has a cheap, strong verson.

  • I love the Mr clean magic erasers. In our house we use them for cleaning the bathroom sink, counter and tub. It makes this chore so much easier.

  • In love Magic Erasers (and have had a crush of Mr. Clean for years). Thanks for this list. I am so ready to do all my baseboards. I have been cutting mine into pieces for a long time, so appreciated the affirmation that I was doing something smart. I did it because I didn’t like the dirty eraser after I was finished, so using the small pieces made it easy to clean and discard. I’m new to your blog, but enjoy it tremendolusly.

  • I have also “cleaned off” the paint on my latex-painted walls with a Magic Eraser, LOL. I find a very rough washcloth works much better for wall washing.

    • Magic erasers can and will scratch if you rub too hard. My dogs would come in from outside rough housing. Every day they’d run their coats on the corner of the wall at the top of my stairs. Needless to say this spot got dirty!

      My housekeeper used magic erasers on semi gloss paint, scratching them.

      I think that most of the uses, even oh high gloss finishes can work with caution. You’re only after the stain or dirt after all. I believe had she used hot water and gently worked to remove the dirt it would have been fine.

      For marble, quartz and Formica counters, I think it would just be easier to use something else unless the surface was ruined. As in the magic eraser was a last ditch solution.

      Leslie

    • amen. People have to remember these are abrasive! Frequent use instead of a cleaning solution (say, on doorjambs) means you will just have no paint left eventually in those areas. They are fab for very hard surfaces. Glass, microwave/toaster insides etc. and tile possibly. Or anything you want to remove the surface of a tiny bit and it’ll look the same farther down. Like natural unstained solid wood etc. lol

  • My brother used a magic eraser on his arm to get something off and ended up with a dangerous burn that took a few weeks to heal. I would not encourage people to use this on themselves. They work wonderfully on my shower floor and doors though!

  • Jillee, I think magic erasers are scary! I’ve heard of a man who “erased” his car paint down to the bare metal trying to get a spot off. I’ve damaged the finish on the vinyl siding of my condo. I wouldn’t touch one to my fiberglass tub, nor would I touch my silver with one. I can see it ruining the surface of a kitchen counter, scratching plastic and metal surfaces.

    I’ve bought just one package, which I guess will last the rest of my life. I would like to see it refined by putting it into the form of a mechanical pencil, complete with sharpener. I could use one with a sharp tip.

    Caveat emptor. Don’t use it on anything you wouldn’t use very fine sandpaper on.

    • people need to be reminded they are taking a little bit of the paint/surface off with each use of this product! Not so with glass and metal (uses it was intended for, I think) . Eventually those using this on painted areas will run out of paint to buff away lol

  • Don’t the Magic Erasers that you buy at the grocery have cleanser in them? I’ve hesitated about buying the foam ones on Amazon since they wouldn’t have cleanser. Do you use some kind of detergent with the Amazon ones?

    • Only some varieties of the Magic Erasers have cleanser in them. The original ones are plain. But Pkalbe is right, the way they remove stains is that they are like extremely fine sandpaper. Just something to keep in mind when you use them.

  • I have never had luck with the knock-off melamine. I ordered in bulk, but the erasers just crumbled. I guess I need to try again. Magic erasers are literally magic.

  • Thank Jillee for the information on magic erasers. I’ve been using them for years and wondering about their “magic” ingredients. Your research assured me it’s ok to use them. I then went to Amazon and ordered a box of twenty. I forwarded your article to friends.
    I really look forward to your posts and read all of them. Thanks for the hard work and helpful ideas
    Sue

  • Some painters left red marks on my wall. The cleaned off with magic eraser. The next day it left a mark on the paint that would not some off. They ended up painting the area along with walls nearby.

  • Thank you so very much, Jillee! I’ve been walking past these things for years, wondering what they could do. Of course, I could’ve stopped and read the directions, but that may have slowed me down. Now, I’ve missed out on a lot of things. Ah, change . . .

  • Be very careful using on skin. I once removed paint from my arm with a magic eraser and the resulting friction burn was extremely painful.

    Magic erasers are a staple in my cleaning supplies. Thanks for a few extra ideas!

  • I used a magic eraser to get black Sharpie off a green vinyl diner seat. It removed most of the black but also started to remove the green seat color. Just go slow and don’t be over zealous. It also works well cleaning the grout on my floor tile.

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