- Melamine foam
The foam is manufactured in Germany by BASF under the name "Basotect". It has been used for over 20 years as insulation for pipes and ductwork, and has a long history as a soundproofing material for studios, sound stages, auditoriums, and the like. The low smoke and flame properties of melamine foam prevent it from being a fire hazard.
As a cleaner
In the early 21st century it was discovered that melamine foam was an effective abrasive cleaner. The open cell foam is microporous and its polymeric substance is very hard, so that when used for cleaning it works like extremely fine sandpaper, getting into tiny grooves and pits in the object being cleaned. On a larger scale the material feels soft. Because the bubbles interconnect, its structure is more like a maze of fiberglass strands, when compared to the array of separate bubbles in a material such as expanded polystyrene foam (for example, Styrofoam).
Rubbing with a slightly moistened foam may remove otherwise "uncleanable" external markings from surfaces. For example, it can remove crayon, magic marker, and grease from painted walls, wood finishings, plastic-adhering paints from treated wooden tables, adhesive residue, and grime from hub caps. If the surface being cleaned is not sufficiently hard, it may be finely scratched by the melamine material. The foam wears away, rather like a pencil eraser, leaving behind a slight residue which can be rinsed off.
Melamine foam for cleaning uses is supplied by several companies under brand names such as:
and generically as a "dirt eraser".
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