Ivy Takes The Mr. Clean Challenge

retrochick.JPGIvy says:

Awhile back, the people from Mr. Clean sent me a box that told me to take the Mr. Clean challenge. “Interesting,” I thought, and I put the box aside to deal with a bit later. I was cleaning house recently and came back across the box and decided to open it up. It was an interesting challenge- they provided a bottle of the “leading cleanser”- I can’t tell you the brand, but I can tell you it’s one of those “with bleach” kinda deals- and a package of 2 Mr. Clean Magic Erasers with foaming action and the fresh scent of Febreze, haha. Nifty.

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Challenge

To see how the challenge went, click to:

So, I took the challenge. First, I went to clean off a door my youngest son had colored on with a Sharpie. He’s the fastest draw in the west, I tell ya. Sadly, he prefers drawing on doors and walls to drawing on paper, so cleaning off the door is a regular chore in my house. (Normally, this is Nate’s chore. You make the mess, you clean it up, pal. But this is a special situation.) When I started, my door looked like this:

Door before

First, I used the “leading product” on the door. I had very little hope for it, since I’ve used all sorts of cleaning materials in the past on my walls and doors, and I already know what works best: Mr. Clean Magic Erasers, that’s what. So, I sprayed the cleaner on the door and it faded the marks some, but not much:

Door after "A Leading Brand"

That was unsurprising. Then, I used the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser (with powerful cleaning action and the fresh scent of Febreze) and I was surprised. Here’s why:

Door after Mr. Clean Magic Eraser

I don’t know how well you can see it in this pic, but a trace of the marker is still there. I went and got my regular Mr. Clean Magic Erasers and it scrubbed the trace off. Could the foaming cleanser make the Mr. Clean Magic Erasers less effective? Possibly. Hmmm.

So, now I wanted to put it to the test suggested by the company. They sent me some tiles to try it on, but I wanted to try it out in the real world. Luckily, I pick up cleaning gigs on the side sometimes for extra money, and I happened into one where I got a doozy of a dirty tub. Perfect. I asked the owners of the really dirty tub if I could use their tub as a test between the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser (with powerful foaming cleanser and the fresh scent of Febreze) and the “leading brand” and, if I could take pictures of it. The owner was cool enough to say yes. Right on! Thanks! (You know who you are) So we started off with a tub that looked awful. I used a regular Crayola marker to mark which side of the tub was which. Here’s the before pictures:

Shower before (Mr. Clean Magic Eraser side)

If you look carefully, you can see that the soap scum was so bad on this side that I had a hard time getting the marker to write.

Shower before (The leading brand's side)

This side was slightly less bad, but it was still pretty dirty. And as we all know, dirty is dirty is dirty.

I started with the Mr. Clean side. One thing I really did like about the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser (with powerful foaming action and rainbows and ponies and Febreze) was it did smell good- a whole lot better than bleach, yo. I also thought it did a good job of getting the soap scum off, but I had to use an awful lot of elbow grease to get the mold and funk on the ledges clean.

It ended up sparkly clean, but I think it took a bit more work than necessary. Here’s the after picture:

Shower after Mr. Clean Magic Eraser

On to the “leading brand.” I sprayed it down, went outside, pondered life and love and the meaning of life for about 10 minutes, and came back in. The mold and funk on the ledges wiped right off, but the soap scum? Not much change. Here’s what it looked like when I was finished:

Shower before (The leading brand's side)

Finally, I just went and grabbed my vinegar and water mix to finish cleaning the soap scum. Now, here’s another thing about the Mr. Clean Magic Erasers (with powerful foaming cleanser and rainbows ponies, AND unicorns AND the fresh scent of Febreze) that bothers me. When I was finished with both of these exercises, I had about 90% of the bottle of the “leading brand” left. The Mr. Clean Magic Erasers (with, well, you know) were pretty much spent. I could have used the soft side as a sponge for a bit longer, but the white side, ewww. Look:

Magic Eraser and rag, after

Now, both the rag and the Mr. Clean Magic Erasers (with powerful friends in Washington foaming action and the fresh scent of Febreze) were filthy after use, but I was able to take my rag home and toss it in the washing machine and it was good as new. The Mr. Clean Magic Erasers (with powerful foaming cleansing action and the fresh scent of Febreze)? Not so much.

Now, I’d estimate that the Magic Erasers and the “leading brand” are similar in cost to purchase, but the “leading brand” lasts much longer and might win the edge in being more earth-friendly, since we’re not throwing anything away after just one (hardcore) use. Except it’s all chemically and bleachy and all, so it might lose in the Earth-friendly department. I’m undecided on that one.

The winner here? Neither, really, nor is either a clear loser. I think the lesson to be learned here is to use the right tool for the job. Cleaners with bleach work great on mold. Vinegar and water works great on soap scum. Mr. Clean Magic Erasers (withOUT powerful foaming cleaning action or the fresh scent of Febreze) work best on cleaning Sharpie off your doors and walls. Mr. Clean Magic Erasers (WITH the powerful foaming action and the fresh scent of Febreze) would be best suited to cleaning non-filthy kitchen sinks and counters and, perhaps, clean off soap scum.

Do we really need a hundred different cleaning products in our home? No, not really. I could clean my house, your house, and the guy down the street’s house to spotless with nothing more than a bottle of vinegar and water and some baking soda and a few rags. (Okay, and a broom and dust pan and a vacuum cleaner, and I DO love those Swiffer duster thingies.) Is that all I use to clean my own home? No. I love gadgety cleaning stuff. I am a total sucker for cleaning products that smell fabulous. And if they can be earth friendly and all of the above, I’m a sucker for it.

I suppose what I’m saying here is this- use the right tools for the job, and use the stuff you love. I’m way more eager to mop my floors with Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day (Geranium scent), so I buy Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day. I use the stuff I enjoy using and get the cleaning done. Getting the cleaning done, I think, is the most important part no matter which brand (or non-brand) you use.


  1. bette on July 28, 2015 at 8:52 am

    I know this an old thread, but I was wondering if you can just throw the erasers in the washing machine sans detergent?

  2. Brent Patton on July 28, 2009 at 11:04 am

    Wow, I’m surprised they didn’t try harder.

    • back scrubber on September 18, 2009 at 10:25 pm

      Magic erasers didn’t seem to work for me, but maybe I was using them wrong. They sort of shriveled up.

  3. Nicole on April 16, 2009 at 12:38 am

    Rubbing alcohol on a cotton bud works really well to remove sharpies too! Counters, steel doors, walls…I know from experience 😉

  4. Crochetmama on February 23, 2009 at 4:28 am

    I just found this website. I L-O-V-E it! And Ivy, I really loved your Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Cleaning Challenge journal. It was quite informative but also entertaining and written in such a delightful way that I will eagerly look for your other articles.

    I’m a 50+ year-old housewife, and I’m hard to impress, but I have to admit that those Mr. Clean Magic Erasers have just fascinated me to no end. How do they work so well when nothing else does? And why do they disintegrate in such a peculiar fashion? (Just curious…not complaining).

    We fry alot using our stove (yes…yes…yes…I know….that’s another topic for another time) and I’m always battling the brown grease residue on the stovetop–even though I clean it all the time. I don’t let it build up; I clean it either the day it happens or else the next day. But in all these years of cleaning the stovetop, the Mr Clean Magic Erasers work better than anything else I’ve tried. It still takes elbow grease yes, but at least when you’re done, that stove top is really clean and you haven’t scratched away the enamel. Does anyone else have any suggestions or similar stories? (Or, I guess this new generation of healthier moms/wives doesn’t fry foods with oil any more! Well I guess that’s one way to eliminate that stovetop cleaning challenge, but in our house, some things just have to be fried!)

    Okay, enough talk. Thanks again, Ivy, for a great article. I look forward to reading more from you and exploring this website some more and reading what the rest of you have to say.

  5. Karen on February 4, 2009 at 2:20 am

    For school desks: awesome awesome awesome. The magic eraser removed ink and grime that was ground into scratches and flaws with very little elbow grease. And pencil? The eraser laughed at it. TOO easy. My only complaint is that it left the desks looking quite streaky.

    If you have teacher on your list, these would make a nice stocking stuffer. If s/he balks, tell him or her that, of course, these are to help the _students_ clean the desks better.

  6. LoriW on January 22, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    Hey, y’all! Where do you buy lemon or lavender or “pretty smelling” oil in Nashville?

  7. Diaper Cake Becca on January 18, 2009 at 8:16 pm

    I use the Magic Erasers and they are pretty decent…for what they are. My daughters KEPT going back to the same wall with their crayons, though, and I finally figured out that the eraser was erasing the PAINT off the wall. It cleans….but it also has a sanding kind of thing going on too. Great for hitting a spot once or twice but it will wreck your walls beyond that. (And it is NOT RECOMMENDED for wallpaper).

  8. Judith on January 14, 2009 at 1:05 am

    I’m a vinegar and water and baking soda convert — but I do so love bleachy things that will kill the mold that hides under the clear caulking in my shower! And I’ve been smitten with lemony cleaners for my toilets……. and I adore Bar Keeper’s Friend for my pots and pans and stainless steel sink …… and I love Magic Erasers (minus flowers and unicorns) to get those black marks off my kitchen floor.

    I used to try all kinds of cleansers and, being disappointed in them, leave them to languish under my sink because I felt guilty about spending good money on not-so-good cleaners … now I’ll try fewer new things, but if disappointed will toss them. And feel virtuous about having my vinegar and water spray bottle front and center

  9. Carol on January 13, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    I will have to try the vinegar and lemon oil trick for my soap scum. We have a blue tub so needless to say, soap scum shows up very quickly. So far the magic erasers have worked the best, but I think I will be doing my own test to see what works the best.

  10. Sandy on January 13, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    We love some Mrs. Meyers Lavender for cleaning the kitchen counters and mopping the floors. By love I mean that my kids are motivated to do it so I don’t have to. Works for me.

  11. suzanne on January 13, 2009 at 11:15 am

    Great review….I do like the Mr. Clean erasers, and think they do a remarkable job on SOME things. However, i don’t like the film they leave behind. Maybe I need to rinse better.

    I agree that the right tool used is the answer. …..but I don’t want forty thousand tools, either!


  12. Jamie on January 13, 2009 at 11:04 am

    Love me my Magic Erasers, but I’m equally psyched because I love Mrs. Meyers. I had bought some about 7 years ago and used it up and couldn’t remember what the brand was. The bottle has changed, but I remember the story the salesman told me and it matches up. Woo hoo!

  13. Mom of three on January 13, 2009 at 10:02 am

    Like Keter, I cut mine down. I just spray my shower each morning and it rarely needs cleaning. Make sure the cleaner A) smells good to you. B) doesn’t have to be rinsed, which can cause bigger issues.

    #1 hit mom’s car Friday night, and left his blue on her white. Hubby got the Mister Clean and got the blue right off. Not much help for the bashed in bumper on his car, but at least Mom is good as new (the car that is)

    Since I don’t like perfumes, I would not buy the one with Febreeze. To me Febreeze smells like cat pee. I will not buy it, threw away half my first bottle when I realize it was it that made the couch smell like a litter box and not the cat (who had never been on the couch before)

  14. Meredith on January 13, 2009 at 10:00 am

    I love this analysis–so thorough! You would DIE if you saw the bottom of my husband’s shower right now. I have not scrubbed it since I was 6 months pregnant (and the baby is 3 months old).

    Maybe I’ll try your vinegar concoction for an experiment…

  15. dani on January 13, 2009 at 9:43 am

    The regular Mr. Clean magic erasers are AMAZING. My boss bought some at work once, and now we are hooked. They take off ANYTHING. I recently cleaned an entire room with one for our yearly cleaning project, and it takes everything off.

    Adding suds and scents would be a mistake, in my opinion, as I just want it CLEAN, not messy.

  16. Jean on January 13, 2009 at 8:49 am

    I toss some peppermint oil into my vinegar/water I use for everything. I love peppermint so it makes me happy. Lavender/tea tree oil would be better I suppose, but eh, I don’t love those.

  17. Keter on January 13, 2009 at 2:39 am

    I love the Mr. Clean (plain) Magic Erasers and use them for just about every kind of cleaning that involves water. I think the idea of putting suds and Febreeze in them was a big mistake – I didn’t buy it. The power of those things is in their simplicity and the ability to control what, if any, chemicals are used with them.

    I cut each Magic Eraser in half with a knife because a whole one is too big. I use it first to clean the kitchen countertops and to do final scrubbing of dishes (to remove any small stuff after using a nylon or copper scrubber). After a week or two, it starts to get older and thinner, and I use it to clean other surfaces around the house. Its last stop is cleaning the bathroom, and I typically use it almost completely up. It takes about a month to use up both halves of a Magic Eraser.

    BTW, I used the Swiffer dusters for a while until I found something even better: I discovered by accident that my plush microfiber robe (the kind that is plushy like a toy on one side and kind of like terry cloth textured on the other side) picks up dust like mad! So I went to the fabric store and bought a remnant of the same material on closeout (eye-poking color is a good thing in a dust cloth – hard to lose track of it). I cut it into squares and after the first bit of fluff came off, the raw (not even pinked) edges stabilized and didn’t need overstitching. They pick up scads of dust and hold onto it using static attraction, are so soft they are safe for everything, and wash perfectly. A year later, they look and work good as new.

  18. The Chatty Housewife on January 13, 2009 at 1:33 am

    Thanks so much, I can’t wait to try it out!

  19. Badbadivy on January 13, 2009 at 1:19 am

    Heather- I never clean without rainbows and unicorns. But leave the ponies out, they make “road apples”, which are never good for cleaning. 😉

  20. Badbadivy on January 13, 2009 at 1:18 am

    I use a mix of 50% white vinegar and 50% water. When I worked as a maid, another maid taught me the trick of spraying the vinegar/water, waiting for about 10 minutes, and coming back and the soap scum just wipes right away. You can also use a little lemon oil to keep the soap scum from coming back so soon! Hope this helps. 🙂

  21. The Chatty Housewife on January 13, 2009 at 1:13 am

    I want the recipe for the vinegar soap scum remover. Have you posted it here? What part vinegar to water do you use? Do you just squirt it on and rinse it off, or does it take scrubbing still? Do you need to let it sit?
    Thank you!

  22. Heather on January 13, 2009 at 1:09 am

    Awww, you just made me LOOOVE cleaning reviews!! At least, yours!! …. Now I must go hunt around under the sink to see if I have any ponies and unicorns and little pink froggies hiding under there to tackle my bath tub. Aww, cleaning is fun with unicorns!!

  23. Karen on January 13, 2009 at 1:03 am

    I’ve been considering trying out some Magic Erasers for the desks in “my” classroom. Store brand all-purpose cleaner does well with pencil; a (different) leading brand does better. But neither does much for pen. Now that I know that a Home Ec 101 contributor uses Magic Erasers for Sharpie, I have hope for getting the ink off the desks, too. I’ll report back on the results.

  24. Badbadivy on January 13, 2009 at 12:51 am

    I suppose the “leading brand” should send a thank-you note to Mr. Clean for some free advertising, haha.

  25. Danielle on January 13, 2009 at 12:47 am

    Wow, I’m surprised they didn’t try harder.

  26. Badbadivy on January 13, 2009 at 12:46 am

    LOL, I know, Danielle. I thought it was pretty funny, so I left it that way. You can see it REALLY clearly in real life. I cracked up when I saw it.

  27. Danielle on January 13, 2009 at 12:40 am

    This was interesting to read. One thing I noticed though–you can still see the name of the “leading brand” cleaner on the bottle (through the black and white label). Maybe you can edit that! 🙂

  28. Kacie on January 13, 2009 at 12:28 am

    A helpful, unbiased review! Way to go, Ivy!

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