Abrasive Cleaners are mechanical cleaners. They physically scratch off dirt, stains, and tarnish via friction as you rub a surface. They are composed of either particles or physical abraders such as sandpaper, steel wool, and scrubbing pads. Finer particles are less abrasive. Coarser particles are more abrasive.
Baking soda and salt can be used as abrasives. Baking soda is finer and less abrasive. Salt is more abrasive. Abrasives dull glossy surfaces and change both the reflection and the texture of surfaces. They should never be used on mica because they take away top layers making future cleaning eventually impossible.
Mild abrasives include fine plastic mesh pads, nylon coated sponges, fine brass wool, rotten-stone, and whiting. Mild abrasives are used to scour pots and pans, oven interiors, and drip pans. Use as directed to remove stains on furniture and countertops.
Warning: Abrasives will scratch fine, hard, smooth surfaces if you rub too hard.
Moderate abrasive cleaners include fine pumice and fine steel wool. Steel wool is actually graded from 0000-super fine, 000-extra fine, 00-very fine, 0-fine, 1-medium, 2-medium course, and 3-0 course. Gradings 00 and finer should be used lightly on pots and pans when needed to remove burned on crusty foods and grease. They are often used on burnt spills in non-self-cleaning or continuous cleaning oven interiors when they will not come off with other milder cleaners. Moderate abrasives should not be used regularly for cleaning. They should be used only for stubborn spots.
Strong abrasives include medium and coarse steel wool, metal mesh cloths and balls, metal brushes, coarse pumice, and sand/silica. Strong abrasives can be used on barbecue grills and untreated oven racks for stubborn deposits when damage to the surface is not a concern.
Warning: Strong abrasives quickly abrade hard surfaces making them course and thus harder to remove dirt from in the future. Use only when necessary.
The Basic Cleaning Families