Take that, Magic Eraser! (Day 109)…


Sometime last year, I fell in love with the Magic Eraser. Watching as it cleaned grime from my tub in a single swipe and made the grout between my bathroom tiles as white as Ryan Seacrest‘s teeth, I’d hum the song “Do You Believe in Magic?” and silently respond, “You bet I do!”

Ah, but then the CBC came and ruined it all, pointing out that the reason it worked so well had to do with the carcinogenic tongue-twister of a chemical, formaldehyde-melamine-sodium bisulfite copolymer, which they don’t warn about on the label. Damn you, Wendy Mesley! (Although, I have to confess, I was mildly disturbed by the fact that the eraser also seemed to magically disintegrate after a few uses.)

So it was back to using a whole bucket of different cleaning products, with my primary tools being a sponge and some paper towel. I’d use the paper towels for cleaning the bathroom mirror, glass table and stove, kitchen counter, and to wipe things dry.

But then the other night, when I was at my parents’ place for dinner, my mother gave me this thing called an E-cloth, which she got from Tony at the Kitchen and Glass Place in Toronto, which is like Williams-Sonoma‘s cooler, more reasonably priced cousin. It’s made from some crazy scientific micro-fiber and promises to clean your entire house with nothing but water, so you save on paper towels and cleaning products.

Pshht, yeah right, I thought. Mom totally got suckered.

Still, I decided to try it out this weekend anyway, just so I could report back to her the extent to which she’d been suckered, and whoa — hold the phone. This thing kicks serious Sunday chores ass! I tested it out on the counter top: Good. Then I ran it over my stainless steel fridge: Excellent. Then I bolted upstairs to try it on my sink and tiles: Perfect.

I couldn’t believe it. This thing cleaned everything without leaving a single streak, and I barely had to run it over any surface twice. I didn’t use a single paper towel or any product, just water.

So my green change today is to only use cloths like these for household cleaning; no more paper towels.

16 Responses to Take that, Magic Eraser! (Day 109)…

  1. Chile says:

    I love my microfiber cloths! They even work to get that dark gunky grime off wall corners where the pets rub against them. They only drawback I’ve found is that my hands get a little chapped if I do a lot of cleaning with them. I think it’s from wringing the excess water out of the cloths. Have fun cleaning!

  2. Greenpa says:

    Interesting!! I hadn’t heard of these at all; but your and Chile’s experiences are going to get me to try it.

    I gotta point out- these things qualify as … gasp… Plastic!

    But I continue to contend that SOME kinds of plastic are genuinely GOOD for the earth- and cutting down on “cleanser” chemicals would be a HUGE help.

    Cool! 🙂

  3. Hellcat13 says:

    Oh. Dear me.

    I try to follow many of your efforts with the same effort on my part. But…


    It scares me. It really does. I know the ingredients are not posted on the label for a reason. I know there’s probably Really Bad Stuff in there. I know I shouldn’t use them.
    But they are the only product the really truly cleans my bathtub. I get so much satisfaction watching it cut through the grunge. The first time I used it, I almost cried with joy.

    I don’t know, Vanessa. This is going to be a hard switch for me to follow—I think I will have to see it to believe it.

    Can I at least save my eco-sized box for special bathtub occasions, like when the in-laws vist?

  4. Hellcat13 says:

    Ok, re-reading that, it might have sounded pervy – We don’t have special bathtub occasions with the in-laws. I just meant when I am cleaning to impress 🙂

  5. Chile says:

    Tubs are not that hard to clean, Hellcat13. I generally use Bon Ami, a sponge, and elbow grease. Recently I tried a method I read about somewhere (Frugal Veggie Mama’s blog maybe?) that worked fine too. Sprinkle baking soda over the entire tub. Spritz a small area with a little vinegar and scrub with a brush while it’s foaming. Continue over the whole tub. Rinse. Came out just as clean as with Bon Ami but was probably cheaper. Certainly less toxic than Mr. Clean’s sponge. 🙂

  6. Actually, the magic eraser is just made of melamine foam– its basically a micro-abrasive, there are no chemicals involved. It’s like using a really, really fine absorbent sandpaper. These aren’t exactly new, either, its just being marketed much better now. Check the Snopes page for more info: http://www.snopes.com/medical/toxins/eraser.asp

  7. gettinggreen says:

    Hmm, either way, I still think these cloths would be more eco-friendly because I won’t need to consume all that packaging, and water is most definitely the safest cleaning solution.

  8. Molly says:

    I thought this was an urban legend? http://www.snopes.com/medical/toxins/eraser.asp

    I’m not saying that switching to microfiber cloths isn’t a good idea. The cloths can be used over and over again, and the magic eraser only works once. But just because the word formaldehyde is in the name doesn’t mean there’s formaldehyde in the product. Chlorine is very harmful to humans, but sodium-chloride (salt) isn’t. I couldn’t find anything about formaldehyde-melamine-sodium bisulfite copolymer on the Web sites you linked to. Am I missing something?

  9. Hellcat13 says:

    Hey Chile – unfortunately, I have one of those tubs with the gritty bottom – slip guard, I guess? I used elbow grease, a variety of cleaners, sponges, you name it, and was still never able to get it sparkling. The gritty part always looked less-than clean. The Mr. Clean sponges returned it to a pristine state. But these cloths sound promising, so I will try to hunt them down in Ottawa!

  10. greenchick says:

    My mom tearned me on to these a few years back. They are great! I also use alot of white vinegar in my cleaning routine.

  11. greenchick says:

    lol. Lets try that again, Turned. …

  12. Chile says:

    Hellcat13, I hate to break it to you, but the gritty bottom will probably tear up a microfiber cloth. 😦

  13. […] That was months ago, and instead of investing in the fantastic E-cloth I read about on Thistle’s page, I just continued to use the remaining sponges, napkins, and dish towels I have hanging about the […]

  14. Take that on Youtube…

    Take That is an English pop band formed by Gary Barlow, Howard Donald, Jason Orange, Mark Owen, and, formerly, Robbie Williams. All perform primarily on vocals though each have some instrumental talent/song-writing capability….

  15. Gavin Dohman says:

    Really it is extremely wonderful post and I like to read these skills and also I’m trying it and numerous for sharing such kind of methods please retain it sharing.

  16. Robyn says:

    Unfortunately neither magic erasers or microfiber are green or ecofriendly, both if them are synthetic that end up in landfill and poison our earth, water and atmosphere. They are marketed as being green because you use with water and people just accept what they are told.
    You can use cotton or bamboo cloths, cellulose sponges, vinegar,baking soda….paper towels too.
    Then to go even further, everything becomes toxic in landfill (even your foodscraps) as it’s not a natural decomposing environment.
    So your used paper towels, cotton or bamboo cloths,cellulose sponges, should go in your compost. (Along with food scraps, cotton balls anything organic).
    Home composting is the biggest thing any of us can do to be “green” and it nourishes your own yard. It’s very easy I’m a working Mom of 3 and I do it.

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