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Mr. Clean Magic Eraser: Is it Toxic?

mr-clean-magic-eraserMy client looked sheepish as she swung open the door to the closet that held her cleaning supplies.

We had just been through her pantry, where all  of her stored foods–exclusively organic items, of course—were housed in glass tubs…from quinoa to oat groats to seaweed, nothing lived in a plastic container of any kind. After moving to the playroom, where I spotted only one piece of plastic (in the form of a miniature beach ball) amidst a sea of beeswax, untreated wood, and felted wool, I started to worry that I wouldn’t be able to help this woman at all. Her home seemed devoid of all toxins–from the custom furniture made of goosedown and hemp, to her five-month-old’s wardrobe that consisted entirely of organic cotton clothing items, I have never seen a cleaner home.

I felt like a fraud, and I realized sadly that despite how much I liked this woman, we could never become friends, lest she see the inside of my apartment, full of Legos and ice cubes stored in plastic trays and even some non-organic cloves of garlic.

In any event, this client had paid me to help her banish toxins from her ridiculously gorgeous apartment, and I was determined to hunt these toxins down. So my pulse quickened as I stared into her cleaning supply closet and–amidst the bottles of Sonett glass cleaner, Seventh Generation dishwasher detergent, and Eco-Me all-purpose cleaner–I spied the unmistakable sheen of a bald head. “It’s Mr. Clean Magic Eraser,” my client spit out guiltily. “It’s amazing, but I know it’s so so toxic, so don’t even tell me what’s in it, okay?” Actually, I couldn’t tell her what was in this product, as I was until that moment unfamiliar with it (although of course I knew that regular old Mr. Clean liquid cleaner was full of chemicals. But she didn’t need to pay me to tell her that.)

What Magic Eraser Does
I’m sure all of my readers know what Magic Eraser is, but if not, it’s basically a miracle sponge that wipes stains off of pretty much any hard surface. It seems I am the only mom who didn’t use these sponges for smudges on white walls, crayons on countertops, or strawberry juice on floors.

I told the client I would look into it, left her apartment, and practically sprinted home, heady with the anticipation of uncovering all sorts of noxious ingredients and hopefully finding a safe alternative I could recommend to her. But my research revealed something surprising…Mr. Clean Magic Eraser really isn’t that bad.

What Magic Eraser Is Made of
Magic Eraser’s pad itself is made of melamine polymer, about which safety info is lacking, but which doesn’t appear to be toxic. I mean, it’s a type of plastic, it’s not remotely natural, and it’s certainly not something I would sell in my online store. You shouldn’t use it on dishes or something you eat off of as bits of the polymer are left behind. You should avoid formulas with added fragrance or bleach. All that said, as far as cleaning products go, Magic Eraser is actually one is among the safer options, especially considering how well it works.

Magic Eraser: The Most Unlikely Good Stuff
Obviously, my client was thrilled to hear that she could keep using the Magic Eraser without compromising the air quality of her pristine home. And in the end I was able to help her by working with her decorator to design a flame-retardant free day bed for her toddler, and we also added air-purifying houseplants and Moso bags to all the rooms of her apartment.

Oh, I also did end up becoming friends with this client. And someday, if I can hide the Legos, perhaps I will let her venture into my home, where she will find a full supply of Mr. Clean Magic Eraser in my own cleaning closet.

Stay sane,

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18 responses to “Mr. Clean Magic Eraser: Is it Toxic?”

  1. Hilary Ledingham

    It’s not toxic but it’s micro plastics can be lethal to all. Read Mitch’s comment.

  2. Mitch

    It is a plastic that crumbles easily and pollutes the environment, getting into the ground and water. It is hard as glass at a microscopic level and is one reason that it is harmful to all mammals when swallowed or even rubbed up against. This is an inedible, not biodegradable plastic that when used sheds tiny particles all around the home and into the waste-water and septic tanks. Once used and dried, the tiny particles come off it like a dust and can fall to the floor and be licked up by pets and children from their hands and feet. Those selling this product, covers this one up by saying it is ‘non-toxic’ as if that were the only thing that counted. A sharp knife is non-toxic, but can still be deadly. No-one wants to believe that something so seemingly convenient can be bad. They sell tons of this stuff around the world every year and it (as well as plastic clothing fiber) is polluting rivers, ground and the oceans. In the end we end up eating more and more of it as gets into everything, getting smaller and smaller until finally getting so small it can pass the blood/brain barrier and lodge into our brains, get into plankton and krill. How can this or any other form of micro-plastics be good or benign for the environment, especially these that are like microscopic knives?

  3. carol

    I use a no name magic eraser from a dollar store to wipe/clean my glassware and it cuts the grease and gives it the most incredible crystal clear shine. Then I briefly rinse or wash them with a tad of dawn detergent . Looks like brand new glassware when done. Hard to believe any residue could ever be left behind!!!

  4. I did not get an answer to my question.

  5. I have a ? Can you wash dishes or silverware with
    magic eraser? I tried it on silverware and the shine
    was great!

    1. Maia James

      I wouldn’t use it on silverware unless I was going to wash it afterwards (which I am sure defeats the whole purpose!).

  6. Chris

    They sure do work well. This from Wired though:
    In 2008, Chinese fraudsters used melamine to make milk and infant formula appear to have a higher protein content, killing six babies and making nearly 300,000 others sick. Two of the perpetrators were executed.
    I would’t be surprised if in a few years that we get terrible news about these.

  7. Lisa

    Thank you for this Maia! My cleaning ladies use all my non toxic products but keep asking me to buy a magic eraser. I’m so glad to know that they aren’t that bad. I’ll just make sure they don’t use it in the kitchen or on eating surfaces. Thank you always!!

    1. Maia James

      Yes, keep it away from your dishes, otherwise, it’s fine:).

  8. Robin Parker

    I clean houses for a living. I love, love erasers for cleaning everything. Baseboards, sinks, haven’t tried a piece in the tiolet yet. How long must one wait for it to desolve?
    I need these things. They are fablous. When it gets flat. It does not clean as well.
    Also great for cleaning tennis shoes, refrigerators, stainless steal, hard water stains, and white grout.
    Wish it cleaned fabric.

    1. Maia James

      I’m not sure I understand your question?

  9. CherAshley

    Yay for mr clean! The only reason we use it is to clean off the crayons and markers off the wall 🙂

    1. Maia James

      yes, it really lives up to the name magic for this purpose:).

  10. Christy Mayer

    I just stared using Norwex products. I actually became a consultant when I saw with my own eyes how well it cleans. Something I’ve not bought from Norwex but it is very interesting to see that it’s on the list, they sell a magic earaser”! So after reading your amazing article, I’m thinking more and more that a “magic eraser” isn’t so bad for us after all. Thank you!

  11. A

    http://www.wired.com/2015/09/whats-inside-mr-clean-magic-eraser/

    what do you think of the content of this link?
    it says the formaldehyde’s toxicity is reduced, but I don’t understand if the melamine’s is

    1. Maia James

      Hi there-
      While I wouldn’t want to eat off melamine dishes, I am not worried about it in Magic Eraser:).

      1. Steve Nordquist

        So it’s equally teratogenic as unleaded gasoline, but no big deal.
        Pat away the dust with something that’s not your hand, I think.
        You missed the EPA caution that melamine can’t be used in a microwave particularly, right? Or why?

  12. Bless you for this, Maia!

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