Welcome to Clear IQ, the place we discover the chemistry and science behind your favourite cleansing merchandise.

In 2017, Procter & Gamble debuted a brand new, attractive Mr. Clear. His succesful forearms (and form of unhappy gesture in the direction of a extra equitable division of labor throughout gender traces) shortly seduced his feminine co-star, however she may simply as simply have been swayed by the miraculous cleansing energy of the Mr. Clear Magic Eraser. After debuting in 2003, Magic Erasers shortly grew to become a cult basic, and are a favourite of many cleansing professionals, together with Jolie Kerr, who even recommends them for de-scuffing your loved one Prada wedges.

The Mr. Clear Magic Eraser is “Durafoam” sponge, marketed as a catch-all cleansing device, able to banishing every part from everlasting marker to cleaning soap scum to beet juice. All it’s essential to do is dampen the sponge and it goes to work on scuffs and stains, with none added detergents or cleansing resolution.

No wand-waving right here: The “magic” of the eraser is just melamine, a nitrogen-rich natural base that in its stable state is a powerful-yet-delicate abrasive. Melamine is a widespread chemical compound, utilized in every part from dry erase boards to sound insulation on bullet trains to your grandparents’ formica desk. Due to its excessive protein content material, it has additionally been used to inexpensively and illegally fortify meals (which is what occurred within the 2008 Chinese language toddler formulation scandal).

Melamine’s distinctive abrasiveness is what makes it such a strong cleansing agent. “As a foam, melamine is each porous and onerous and acts like an especially tremendous sandpaper,” says Jessica Ek, Director of Digital Communications on the American Cleansing Institute. In contrast to, say, a detergent that breaks down stains, melamine is definitely utilizing teensy air pockets to scrape the stains off. “At a microscopic stage, the air pockets appear like tiny the wrong way up triangles,” explains Morgan Brashear, P&G’s Scientific Communications Supervisor. “When activated with water, the person triangles turn out to be about as onerous as glass. The ‘struts’—the factors on the backside of the triangle—catch on the soil and drag throughout the floor, much like a windshield wiper.” That’s why they advocate spot testing, and avoiding use on tremendous delicate, shiny, or finished-wood surfaces. Gloves are additionally a good suggestion, since scrubbing your fingers repeatedly with an abrasive substance is the sort of exfoliation you don’t wish to mess with.

Magic Erasers will set you again about $1 a pop, and, because the erasers are so porous, they have an inclination to put on away like a pencil eraser and break down rather more shortly than different sponges. So the query is: do they actually work that significantly better than ye olde elbow grease? That’s a sure. Their abrasive nature means they’re merely more practical at eradicating cussed stains. That mentioned, be happy to save lots of them to your more durable messes, and depend on cleaning soap and water for issues like contemporary meals spills. And since there aren’t actually any “magical” components, you may as well purchase your individual melamine sponges in bulk.

Lastly, the Chinese language child formulation scandal, whereas horrifying, shouldn’t make you involved about what the sponges are doing to your well being: Melamine is innocent except ingested (so maintain them out of attain of pets and youngsters), and, as Brashear factors out, they’re really an incredible choice for folks involved about toxins, because the erasers are freed from added surfactants and detergents.

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