Magic Eraser

Julie Weber Is This A Poison

Toxicity:  Minimally toxic.

Expected symptoms:  Biting off a piece of a Magic Eraser® can cause some gagging and choking initially.  It can also cause minor irritation to the mouth and stomach.  Rubbing on the skin can cause a rash or a burn.

What to do:  Wipe out your child’s mouth with a soft wet cloth and remove any pieces from the mouth.  Give your child water to drink to wash any pieces of the sponge down to the stomach.

Quick Facts about Magic Eraser:

The Magic Eraser is a melamine foam sponge (like a very fine sandpaper) which is able to clean items such as ceramic stove tops, dirty hubcaps, and can even remove crayon markings from walls.  The ability of this sponge to clean messes where other cleaners have failed makes it appear to be “magic”.  This reputation continued until various internet blogs started posting about the sponge containing formaldehyde, and suddenly this magic household tool was rumored to be toxic.  The sponge is made from formaldehyde-melamine-sodium bisulfite copolymer, so there are trace amounts of formaldehyde present in the sponge, but it is not in the same form as the formaldehyde we remember from science class.

Children often take bites from anything they get their hands on and the Magic Eraser is no exception.  Swallowing a piece of this dry foam can be difficult which could make the child gag and choke while trying to get the piece down.  Sucking or chewing on it can cause minor irritation to the mouth and it may also cause stomach irritation if swallowed.  After leaving the stomach, the sponge will travel through the intestines and come out in the stool.  It does not break down or absorb in the body, so no serious or long-term effects are expected. 

Sometimes we get calls about children rubbing the Magic Eraser on their skin, or a well-meaning parent may use the sponge to get something off of the child’s skin, like marker or pen streaks.  The sponge is made of a superfine foam which can result in rashes or burns, even with gentle rubbing.  Because of this, the Magic Eraser should never be used on a child or adult’s skin.

If you find your child taking a bite from a Magic Eraser, do not panic. Take the sponge away from them, wipe out the mouth with a soft, wet cloth and give them some water to drink. If problems start or you have questions, call the Missouri Poison Center right away at 1-800-222-1222. The poison center is open all day, every day for poisoning emergencies and questions.

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