So after hearing me scream from 2 houses away over cleaning the acrylic tub in my bathroom, my friend Liz let me in on a little secret, the Scotch Magic Sponge/Mr Clean Magic Eraser. She said these got pretty much anything clean without even having to use any cleaning products. I might have looked at her with some skepticism, but I bought one, tried it, and she was right. My bathtub came sparkling clean with relatively minimal effort. There might have been a happy dance and celebratory cupcake.
I used it guilt-free for about 6 months, but little by little, a nagging feeling grew… what is in this thing anyway?
You see, ever since I looked at the ingredients list on my favorite non-dairy coffee creamer I have been unable to keep my head in the sand for long on what’s in the stuff I buy. The Magic Sponge has gotten a pass for longer than maybe it should have, simply because the package lists no ingredients. Instead, there is this product description:
Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is an innovative cleaning material that penetrates surface grooves where dirt and grime get trapped. It easily and thoroughly breaks up tough dirt, lifting it away from surfaces. And, it does all this with just water alone!
oookaaaaayyyyy… so. What’s in this thing anyway?
A little digging has me discovering that this “innovative cleaning material” is a melamine foam product called “Basotect”, developed by BASF, which has been used for about 20 years in pipe insulation. The foam is extremely hard on the microscopic level, yet soft in larger scale. It’s structure allows it to act like sandpaper when moistened, removing otherwise difficult stains from most surfaces.
Apparently, the slight residue left behind washes away easily with water.
So what’s in this thing is… melamine, and it’s residue is going to wash down my drain. Hmm.
Well, the only question I really have left is what happens when that melamine residue gets into the water supply? I mean, melamine residue is what caused both the poisoned pet-food recall AND the tainted baby formula scandals of the past few years. Are these magic sponges contributing to our own home-grown disaster?
Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find any answers to that question. The internet is full of reassurances that the foam does not contain formaldehyde and won’t burn your baby, but no one is really asking if products such as this could be contributing to the presence of melamine in so many unexpected places. I’d like to not jump to conclusions, but I’d be lying if I said I’d buy any more of these with any confidence.
And there lies the problem. These things work, and they do it without any obvious stinky chemicals. It really seems like they’re a great option on tubs like mine that laugh at both baking soda and scrubbing bubbles. I really wanted to believe they were magic… Guess it’s time to get that swear jar back out…
soft scrubber recipe