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How Do Magic Erasers Work? Cleaning Pros Reveal the Secrets Behind What Makes Them So Effective + How to Make Your Own for Less

Discover how the versatile sponge can clean sneakers, walls, showers and more!

If you’ve ever used one of these deceptively simple looking white sponges, you know they can truly live up to their “magic” name when it comes to removing stubborn scuffs and grime off of everything from shoes to walls. And if like any other magic trick you’re wondering, how do Magic Erasers work their magic, we found out how, what they work best on and what surfaces never to use them on. Keep scrolling to learn more.

What are Magic Erasers?

how do magic erasers work: melamine magic sponge cleaning equipment for household

“Magic Erasers are ‘sponges’ made from a substance called melamine foam,” reveals Sara “The Cleaning Lady” San Angelo, owner of “It’s been used as an insulation and soundproofing material for decades because it contains ‘micropores’ that are good at both retaining heat and absorbing soundwaves.”

Believe it or not, it wasn’t until the early 2000s that Proctor & Gamble (P&G) researchers patented the foam as a cleaning material, but how it went from insulation to scrubbing homes isn’t fully clear. Even BASF, the chemical company that produces the foam for P&G, only offers up that it was founded via “persistence and a little bit of luck.” So, its cleaning superhero origin story will likely always remain a mystery.

How do Magic Erasers work?

The same “micropores” that make melamine a great insulator also create a microscopically uneven surface on the foam that is similar to extremely fine-grade sandpaper.

“The mild abrasiveness of these sponges helps lift dirt and grime, but it’s gentle enough not to leave scratches on most surfaces,” explains Ilya Ornatov of NW Maids in Seattle. “Dampening the sponge in water lends it a magnetic property that allows the sponge to lock onto gunk, scrape it off and absorb it, leaving the surface you’re scrubbing looking like new.”

In the kitchen

“These sponges are great at removing grease, food residue and stains on many kitchen surfaces, including stovetops, appliances and sinks, as well as non-granite countertops,” says Ornatov. “You can even use them on pots and pans with stubborn cooked-on grime, as long as they’re not non-stick.”

In the bathroom

“They’re perfect for removing hard water stains, soap scum and mineral buildup on tile and porcelain surfaces,” says Ornatov, “and they are especially magical at scrubbing stained grout.” For more ways to use a Magic Eraser in the bathroom click here.

On walls and floors

“This is another spot where melamine really shines — the sponges are a lifesaver for parents of young kids who like to draw on walls, since it will buff those crayon marks right out without damaging the paint,” says Ornatov. “And they are also good at removing everyday scuff marks, too. The key is to scrub these surfaces gently — you want to lift off the marks without removing too much of the painted surface or you’ll wind up needing to touch up the paint.”

Related: Use This Cheap Trick to Remove the Stinky Smells Coming From Your Walls

On shoes

You can put away the smelly chemical shoe cleaners, says Ornatov. Simply rub your favorite kicks down with one of these Magic Erasers to erase grass stains, dirt and grime to make them look like they’re fresh out of the box again.

Watch a how-to here:

On outdoor furniture

“Melamine is especially handy at cleaning outdoor furniture, and can renew chairs and tables that are stubbornly stained with mold, mildew and dirt,” says James King of Deluxe Maid in Indianapolis, adding that it’s especially effective on plastic and vinyl, which otherwise seems to absorb and lock onto grime and is normally impervious to other cleaning methods.

Other uses for Magic Erasers? From washing machine agitators to hair tools to your vent covers, check out some of the more unique places to clean using Magic Erasers from the popular Clean Freak & Germaphobe YouTube channel:

What not to clean using Magic Erasers

Despite its magic status, melamine isn’t ideal for every surface, King adds. “You’ll want to avoid using them on surfaces that are very sensitive to scratches, such as electronic screens, non-stick cookware (click here to learn what does work), glass/mirrors (click here to learn what does work), brushed metal and dry-erase boards.”

The key: When using a Magic Eraser on a new surface for the first time, test it out in a small, less visible spot to ensure it won’t leave scratch marks behind.

How to make your own Magic Eraser

The downside to Magic Erasers is their lasting power: namely, they don’t have much, since the foam tends to dissolve quickly after each use, similar to a pencil eraser. Because of that, if you use the sponges frequently, the cost can add up.

The good news: you can make your own Magic Erasers at home for a fraction of the cost of the store-bought variety and it’s extremely easy. Just try this method by Merissa Alink, owner of Little House Living.

“I was pretty happy when I discovered you could make your own, since I use these sponges all the time to clean up after my little ones, and the materials cost way less than buying the name-brand. To do, simply purchase a bulk amount a melamine sponges — you can get 50 for just $14 on Amazon (that’s just 28 cents each!) — then soak them in a mixture of 1 cup water, 1 tsp baking soda and a drop of dish soap for about 5 minutes, and let the magical scrubbing begin!”

You can also follow the simple how-to, here:

For more on cleaning, click through the links below!

How to Remove Toothpaste Stains From Clothes: Laundry Experts’ Fast Fixes

Cleaning Your Flat Iron Is More Important Than You Think: Hair Experts Explain Why

How to Clean Couch Cushions No Matter What Fabric They Are — Easy Pro Tricks

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