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Michigan State University Extension
Home Maintenance And Repair - 01500298

Abrasive Cleaners

Wear off dirt, stains, tarnish and hard water deposits by rubbing; fine particles are less abrasive, coarse particles are more abrasive.

Cautions- Can scratch and damage surfaces, making smooth surfaces rough and thus harder to remove dirt from, in future cleaning.

Mild Abrasive Cleaners

Plastic or Nylon Mesh
Reinforced Sponges

Scour pots and pans, oven interiors, and drip pans. Use as directed to remove stains on surfaces as furniture, countertops, etc.

Cautions- May scratch fine, hard, smooth surfaces if used too vigorously.

Moderate Abrasive Cleaners

Fine Steel Wool
Medium Grain Pumice

Use sparingly on pots and pans when needed to remove burned-on foods and grease; use on burned-on spills on oven interiors when they will not come off with other milder ways. Use sparingly to remove stains that will not come off by milder means, if stain removal is more important than scratching the surface.

Cautions- Do not use regularly for cleaning; use only for stubborn spots; will scratch fine, hard, smooth surfaces.

Strong Abrasive Cleaners

Coarse Steel Wool
Metal Grit Cloths
Metal Mesh Balls
Metal Brushes
Coarse Pumice
Silica Particles (often an ingredient in scouring powders)

Scour barbecue grills. Use only when removal of a stubborn deposit is necessary and damage to surface is not important.

Cautions- Will quickly scratch hard, surfaces making them rough, and thus harder to remove dirt from and more easily stained. Do NOT use regularly for cleaning.


This article was written by Anne Field, Extension Specialist, Emeritus, with references from MSU Extension bulletin Money Saving Tips on Household Cleaners.

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MSU is an affirmative-action, equal-opportunity employer. Michigan State University Extension programs and materials are open to all without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, religion, age, height, weight, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital status, family status or veteran status. Issued in furtherance of MSU Extension work, acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Thomas G. Coon, Director, MSU Extension, East Lansing,MI 48824. This information is for educational purposes only. Reference to commercial products or trade names does not imply endorsement by MSU Extension or bias against those not mentioned.

This information.was reviewed as of June 2008.  For more information about the contents please contact for webpage problems .