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Melamine sponge

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A melamine sponge is white sponge that resembles a foam-like sponge. It is often used to remove stubborn stains and provides strong cleaning power with much less surface imperfections then a scouring pad. It is a common products in a detailers arsenal.

What is melamine

Melamine is a foam like end product that is made from formaldehyde-melamine-sodium bisulfite copolymer. There are several companies around the world that make this product with 2 companies that produce the largest quantity: BASF (brandname: Basotect) and SINOYQX (brandname: YarQuenXer aka YQX). Melamine has been in production for over 20 years and is used as an insulating material for ducts and pipework and other construction elements that need shielding from heat, sound and shocks. It has also been used successfully as soundproofing material in sound studio’s, stages, auditoriums, stages and some audio equipment. Due to its low smoke and flame properties, it has been popular in situations where fire protection was important whilst also providing insulation. The reasonably cheap cost of manufacturing has made it very interesting as an alternative against glasswool and other standard forms of insulation.
In the last years, melamine has gained popularity as a cleaning tool, replacing the scour pad while still offering similar cleaning properties. A melamine sponge can be known under several different names and terms:

  • Magic sponge
  • Japanese sponge
  • Magic eraser
  • Plastic sponge
  • Melamine sponge
  • Magic scrub
  • Magic foam
  • Wonder sponge

Why use Melamine

A melamine sponge is fairly cheap to produce, with a reasonably cheap wholesale price. It offers cleaning power that is similar to a scour pad, with much less of the surface imperfections a scour pad will give. It has been proven to have great cleaning power on many different surfaces, and due to its basic material it has a very high resistance against chemicals.
The very fine type of sponge-like material has an open cell and is micro-porous. The substance itself is very hard, but due its microscopic 3D network of strands it can feel soft to the touch whilst still offering the scrubbing power when used to clean with. Unlike regular foam, it is not made up out of reticulated interconnecting foam bubbles. Its cleaning behavior is similar to very fine sandpaper, with a much more refined finish. Due to its flexible structure with microscopic strand, the type of surface imperfections created by the melamine sponge are more even in depth and size, meaning there is very little risk of pigtails and RDS.

Pro’s and cons of melamine

There are certain uses for a melamine sponge, but they can also cause more harm then wanted.

Pro’s of a melamine sponge

  • The surface imperfection it might leave after scrubbing is much finer then that of a scouring pad and needs less refining
  • It is very cheap
  • It has a very good resistance against chemicals
  • It doesn’t leave stains
  • It can be put away for years without having any effect on the material
  • It doesn’t leave harmful residue that can harm skin, eyes of biological life
  • A melamine sponge can be bought very many different resellers/distributors
  • It can clean off spots on glass, tar, stubborn contamination on wheels and headlights with little effort
  • It doesn’t catch fire and hardly gives off any smoke when being burnt
  • Melamine sheets can be bought in many different sizes

Cons of a melamine sponge

  • When used on leather, the abrasive properties can remove the clear coat that protects the leather
  • When used on paintwork, it can leave a rough patch the would require polishing afterwards
  • The material is designed to crumble when being used, similar to a pencil. This creates residue int he form of chunks
  • When a melamine sponge is squeezed, it won’t reform to its original shape and size
  • It only holds a small amount of liquid
  • It is not designed to last many uses
  • It can be temping to scrub every stubborn spot with a melamine sponge, even on sensitive surfaces
  • Scrubbing with pressure can deform the sponge, adding to the wear and tear of the sponge
  • Some manufacturers use a different thickness in foam, resulting in less strong/rigid foam
  • It doesn’t absorb dirt, so a dirty sponge needs to be cleaned or thrown away

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