10 Things You Should Never Do With a Magic Eraser

updated Aug 29, 2023
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Magic Erasers (also generically known as melamine foam) are kind of amazing. They can clean everything from grout to oven doors to tennis shoes and are designed for cleaning hard-to-scrub surfaces in hard-to-reach places. Unfortunately, sometimes Magic Erasers 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 always to wear a pair of gloves while using your magic eraser, and never ever use it directly on your skin.

(Image credit: Marisa Vitale)

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.

6. Don’t try to brighten stainless steel

Unless you consider yourself to be a “gentle wiper,” it’s probably best to avoid using your pad on any stainless steel surfaces throughout your home. Too much scrubbing can cause the high gloss finish that seals most 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.

8. Don’t use them on wood furniture or paneling

The abrasive nature of the melamine in these erasers can strip away the finish on wood surfaces. This means you shouldn’t use them on wood furniture or wood paneling. Also, be sure to spot-test before using them on wooden cabinets. 

9. Don’t use them on glossy paint

Glossy paint might be the most durable when it comes to wiping off dirt, grime, and other marks, but don’t make the mistake of using a Magic Eraser on glossy paint. It will dull the glossy finish, making the surface look patchy and uneven. 

10. Don’t use them to clean screens

Don’t ever use a Magic Eraser to clean any electronic screen, including your computer, phone, or television. Screens require cleaning with a gentle cloth to prevent scratches and damage to anti-glare finishes.