Should You Use A Magic Eraser in Pool Skimmers?

Magic Eraser Quick Answers:

  1. Does a Magic Eraser work in a pool?
  2. Is it safe to put a Magic Eraser in pool skimmers?
  3. How do I get slime out of my pool?
  4. The Bottom Line

The pool maintenance world saw a bit of an uproar a few years back when a pool owner in Ohio went viral with a controversial ‘pool hack’ claim. She had cleaned her pool with a Magic Eraser sponge, she said.

Does this trick actually work for pool maintenance? Can a Magic Eraser clean your pool, and is it even safe? Let’s get to the bottom of it.

a box of two Mr. Clean magic erasers with Mr. Clean on the front holding a magic eraser
You can buy magic erasers in packs of two or more. You can find them on Amazon and at most grocery stores and home improvement stores. 

Does a Magic Eraser work in a pool?

You’re probably already familiar with the Magic Eraser – a popular, mildly abrasive sponge that lets you clean your entire kitchen with just water and a little elbow grease. 

Magic Erasers are made of melamine foam. Melamine itself is a cyclic compound – part of the triazine family of chemicals. It is normally used for plastic laminates like Formica, flame retardant, and non-protein fertilizers. In the viral post we mentioned above, an Ohio pool owner named Lisa Park said she had added the Magic Eraser to her skimmer basket, and found her pool clean and the green gone after just 24 hours.

Is there any reason to think this would work? Andrea Nannini, a service technician with Custom Pool and Spa Mechanics in Stuart, Florida, wanted to test Lisa Park’s theory out on her own. She filled up a jar with green water from a fountain and placed a Magic Eraser in the jar for 24 hours, as was suggested. What she found was not miraculous. The sponge did absorb some of the algae, but the jar was still filled with green water, and the water balance was not corrected.

So is it possible that the Magic Eraser in Lisa Park’s pool absorbed a small amount of algae circulating in the water? Sure. But removing some algae, while good, is not the goal here. There’s no reason to think that this trick will give you better pool cleaning than normal, tried-and-true pool chemistry methods.

the Facebook post from Lisa Pack showing a picture of the magic eraser that turned green and cleaned her pool
Lisa Pack’s post went viral on Facebook and is what inspired us to write this blog post.

Is it safe to put a Magic Eraser in pool skimmers?

Still, you might be thinking: Why not try the Magic Eraser hack? Even if it doesn’t serve all your pool chemistry needs, it could still be helpful – right? 

Here’s the thing: While melamine alone is non-toxic, exposing it to the Cyanuric Acid (CYA) that is already in your pool can cause a toxic reaction that may be unsafe. 

You may remember the many news stories coming out of China in 2007 when two food suppliers added melamine to dog and cat food to increase the apparent protein content in the products. The melamine combined with cyanuric acid already in the food to form crystals that arranged themselves into spheres. These spheres plugged up tubes transporting urine and caused kidney obstruction in the animals. Fourteen animals in the United States died of kidney disease and renal failure. In China, these companies also added copious amounts of melamine to infant formula. Six babies died, and over 300,000 fell ill from that combination. 

The stories about pet food and infant formula are extreme cases, but adding a Magic Eraser (and the melamine it contains) to your pool filter can be concerning because of the cyanuric acid already there. If you have children, you know they tend to swallow the pool water no matter what you do. That may mean your children are being exposed to the very same cyanuric acid-melamine reaction that has taken lives in recent years.

Cyanuric acid, on its own, is perfectly safe. It’s an FDA-accepted pool additive that you’ve probably used already – either alone or as a component in standard chlorine tablet. Cyanuric acid is a great tool to keep your pool clean. UV rays can destroy the effectiveness of chlorine very quickly, and pools with no or low CYA have a higher chlorine demand. What that means for you is a lot of money spent on chlorine to keep your pool swimmable. Adding CYA is the perfect solution.

But keeping CYA levels balanced is vital since too much CYA will prevent your chlorine from working at all. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends levels remain below 100 parts per million (PPM) in your swimming pool for the safety reasons mentioned earlier. Pool professionals, on the other hand, often recommend 50ppm. In addition to the safety issues, too much CYA will prevent your chlorine from eliminating algae and bacteria growth.

As always, testing your pool water for pH balance, alkalinity, chlorine, and hardness is essential! With our Pool Calculator – a handy app for iOS and Android – testing is a seamless part of your routine when making any changes to your pool. Testing your CYA levels is no different. With the pool calculator, you can keep your pool CYA levels at 50, as is recommended, so your family stays safe, and your pool stays healthy. 

an inground pool skimmer basket with leaves and other debris inside of it
This type of skimmer is a common type that people who tested the magic eraser hack have. 

How do I get slime out of my pool?

Most people who investigate the Magic Eraser pool hack are dealing with a pool slime problem. But there’s a reason pool professionals don’t use Magic Erasers: There are better, scientifically-proven ways to take care of the algae and slime you are finding in your pool. 

“Slime” – i.e., algae and bacterial growth – can crop up for many different reasons. The key to preventing it is to test your water levels frequently and after events that might change your pool chemistry, such as rain showers or a big pool party. But if you already have slime in your pool that you’re trying to get rid of, here’s a simple, four-step plan to follow:

1. Clean your pool’s surface

First, use your pool net to clear away any dead bugs and debris from the pool’s surface. The debris and bugs are sites where algae can collect and grow, so it’s important to get rid of them quickly. (To learn more about keeping these bugs out of your pool, read our post Why Are Water Bugs in Pools?)

2. Vacuum the pool floor

The next step is to use a pool vacuum to clean the dirt and grime on the floor of your pool. Vacuum the entire pool floor, and when the slime inevitably gets stirred up, give it time to rest and vacuum again. This is probably the longest and most tedious part of this process.

3. Shock treat your pool

After the slime has been removed from your pool’s surface and floor, you can perform a chlorine shock treatment to balance your chlorine levels and keep the growth from coming back. It’s important to keep your chlorine, CYA, and other pool chemistry in balance! Try the handy Pool Calculator app on iOS or Android to make it simple.

4. Run your filter

Once your chlorine and CYA levels are where they should be, run your swim filter on the highest setting to keep your water circulating. Slime and algae have a much harder time growing in moving water than still water.

This mini cleaning tutorial may not be as easy as the Magic Eraser hack, but we promise it will work better in the long term. In other words, follow the right steps, and you shouldn’t need a cleaning hack like the Magic Eraser trick.

The Bottom Line

Adding a Magic Eraser sponge to your pool skimmer is not a professional-approved pool maintenance technique. It may remove some algae, but it may also cause other problems you’re not anticipating – including serious health risks.

A much better plan is to solve algae and slime problems at the root, by restoring and maintaining healthy pool chemistry. The Pool Calculator app makes it easy – get started now.

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