“Magic Eraser” is actually the brand name of this type of cleaning sponge made by Proctor and Gamble who produce the well-known “Mr. Clean” cleaning products. There are other companies that make versions of this product - all of these types of foam sponge are actually produced by BASF and called Basotect (see Wikipedia entry on this).
After first reading about the product on a few message boards, we’ve come to find it very useful for cleaning Pyrex in certain situations. In general, we recommend it for cleaning with some reservations. First: please note that there are situations where you DO NOT want to use Magic Eraser to clean your Pyrex and we will try go through as many of those cases here. As usual - we are not responsible if you use this product and damage your Pyrex!
Magic Eraser sponge is actually a type of Melamine foam that has microporous properties (this info is all from Wikipedia’s above article). The unique structure of this foam means that it feels, soft but it is actually composed of rather hard material that can clean some surfaces much better than a normal sponge. The term “eraser” is rather apt, since as you use it to scrub a surface, it will deteriorate as it cleans - like an pencil eraser that leaves crumbs as you go. However, it just seems to magically disappear instead of leaving shreds of material (unless cleaning a very rough surface)
Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is commonly sold in the cleaning dept. of the supermarket in bulk packages of 4-8 rectangular blocks. Note: they DO have generic and different brands of the exact same substance, and for the most part we have found that those other brands perform in the same way as the Mr. Clean variety. We haven’t done a side-by-side test, however. You’ll also note that generic brands can be much cheaper - this is not trivial, since Magic Eraser is not cheap when you consider that it “erases” itself rather quickly with use!
Usage is rather simple on Pyrex and other glassware. Tear off a chunk of magic eraser that is easy to hold in your fingertips, wet the surface of the object where you want to clean it, dampen the magic eraser and squeeze out the excess water, and gently rub it onto the area you want to clean. You will notice the eraser start to disintigrate the more rubbing you do. Great force is not necessary - if the marks, dirt, or grease do not come off after a couple seconds, then it is probably going to come off at all. Sometimes running a stream of water on the area while rubbing may be helpful as well.
Magic Eraser is simply amazing at getting off certain types of buildup and marks on Pyrex. In other cases, it just won’t have any effect. And in some cases, IT WILL ACTUALLY DAMAGE THE SURFACE OF YOUR PATTERNED GLASSWARE. I put that in caps because you should keep that in mind when cleaning.
Here are the situations we’ve found you DO NOT want to use it on Pyrex. There may be more and if you have found definite situations to add to this list, please let us know:
1. Clear Pyrex or other Glassware that any has patterns on it.
2. Pyrex and Glassware with a “matte” surface that is “non-shiny”.
3. Colored or Fired-On patterned Pyrex with a dull finish due to having been dishwashed.
4. Any significantly older Pyrex, with patterns or without.
5. Pink patterned Pyrex, especially Pink Gooseberry.
6. Patterns that have been significantly damaged or appear faded.
7. Patterns that have Gold Leaf.
8. Any Glassware that is very valuable and you don’t want to take a chance!
Now to go through the above points.
Several pyrex collectors, including ourselves, have found that the Magic Eraser will literally “erase” patterns when used on clear Pyrex glass that have patterns on it. The damage isn’t immediate, but the first thing you will notice is a bit of color coming off onto the eraser. This is a warning to stop immediately and have a closer look. To some extent, we have found that just because color will come off onto the eraser isn’t necessarily bad - we’ve used Magic Eraser on non-Pyrex things where the color came off slightly and the object didn’t suffer any damage (to the eye). However, the patterns on clear Pyrex (a good example are some of the older Juice Carafes with patterns) are more fragile than on opal white items that have patterns fired on. We recommend not taking a chance.
By “Matte” surfaces, we are talking about patterns like Terra and Snowflake Charcoal where the overall finish is not shiny. For Terra, we’ve found that rubbing magic eraser on it will definitely take off some of the outer layer… however, depending on the severity of the marks on the bowl, it may be worth it. For our Terra bowl that we used Magic Eraser on, we didn’t notice any difference even though some of the paint did come off onto the eraser. But in general we recommend not using magic eraser on these types of Pyrex.
The same thing goes for dull finish Pyrex that has been put through the dishwasher, or patterns that have been damaged or rubbed off… we believe that because of the wear on the surface, the color and patterns are more fragile and using a Magic Eraser on these may just make it worse. This also goes for coloured pyrex that is very old… again we think that the surface may just not be as strong as some of the newer pieces. We recommend not using magic eraser for pieces that you know are very old.
Several readers have noted that the color Pink tends to be one of the more fragile colors for both Pyrex. We have not tried to use Magic Eraser on these patterns, but because of the warnings of other people we are going to recommend not using Magic Eraser on anything that has pink patterns on opal white. We are also going to recommend not using it on standard pink bowls or refrigerator dishes. (Interestingly, we have used Magic Eraser previously on a Pink Daisy div dish with no ill effects… but this was early on when we first started using Magic Eraser. I think today we might hesitate trying it!)
For gold leaf - we haven’t had any disasters using Magic Eraser on these patterns, but can’t really recommend it… since we weren’t exactly rubbing the eraser directly onto the gold leaf patterns but instead were trying to take off marks around it.
Lastly, if you’ve got a rare piece of Promotional Pyrex - you may just want to avoid using Magic Eraser all together. Why risk fate?
Ok, now that we’ve scared everyone away from using it we’ll start putting up pics of where we’ve successfully used it. We find it very good on any completely clear pyrex item, on coffee stains on inside of Pyrex cups, on the bottoms of bowls and casseroles and grease or marks on the insides of bowls. We also do use it on coloured Pyrex and directly on the patterns of those items - subject to the rules stated above. It is convenient, quick, and non-messy to use. We keep a small chunk near the soap and grab it when we need a quick cleaning.
Here’s an example of using it on the bottom of a Butterprint casserole:
Magic Eraser rules on the bottoms of Pyrex items where you can scrub without worrying about the patterns. This was combination grease and dirt and took about 2 seconds to get off. With a soapy normal sponge, it wouldn’t come off no matter how hard it was scrubbed.
Here’s an example of Magic Eraser on the side of a Meadow 1.5 qt. Casserole:
This took about 5 seconds to get off. One thing - since this sort of looks more like dirt than grease, I would have tried soap and water first just because it’s cheaper than the magic eraser. If the soap and sponge doesn’t work, I switch to the eraser. However, here I used Magic Eraser first for illustrative purposes. Note that this is near the pattern - I just scrubbed right over it with no ill effect.
Here is an example of Magic Eraser on a Flameware Percolator Lid:
I like this comparison because it’s one of the most dramatic. This took about 30 seconds of cleaning. The gunk on the lid was a combination of dirt, dust, airborne grease and water deposits. Magic Eraser will sometimes get rid of hard water deposits and sometimes not - it’s worth trying on clear glass. I’ll also note that I could have probably taken off this stuff with a sponge and soapy water. However, the effort required with Magic Eraser is often so little compared to some instances using just a normal sponge, that I’ll just go with that.
After awhile, you’ll start to recognize instances where it’s worth trying and others when it’s not worth it. One thing that magic eraser usually does not do well on is metal marks. For that, we give Bar Keepers Friend a try.
One of the side benefits about the Magic Eraser is that it is a multitasker… you can use it on so many other things like sinks, walls, showers, tubs, desks, floors, windows, on pen/crayon, etc. In general, however, it is best for “small” jobs. If you try to clean an entire tub, you’ll find that your magic eraser erases itself quite quickly!
More examples to come as soon as I can get the before/after pics…
Ok, here is an example of using magic eraser on spots of blackened grease or oil grime that has been baked on for years on the base of a Horizon Blue casserole.
The key here is that the darker grease dots like these where it is really, really caked on - you may not be able to get it off just by idly rubbing the magic eraser over it. You need to really scrub it for a long time. And in some places, especially where the grease has collected in tiny pockets or manufacturing defects within the finish, it may not come off at all. I actually used wooden toothpicks where the magic eraser would not work in the above case.
Mr. Clean Magic Eraser - $25 for 3 8-packs
available at Amazon.com