How to clean chrome — Kate tests Cramer Kitchen and Bath Stain Eraser

Amerock-chrome-knobs-before-and-afterI scored these awesome vintage cabinet pulls on ebay — but the chrome finish was oxidized and icky. How to go about cleaning up the chrome finish on these lovely bathroom fixtures? I think I found a product that works for me — available online or in a Big Box store:  The Kitchen and Bath Stain Eraser from Cramer North America.

UPDATE from Pam — We have received feedback from several readers who have had negative experiences purchasing this from the Cramer website:

In the wake of our original story, several readers commented that they placed orders for the Cramer Kitchen and Bath Stain Eraser from Cramer North America, then waited weeks — only to have their money refunded and/or never get their order.  Kate has reached out to the company to ask what is up. However, when she initially wrote this story, they never responded to her emails. So in the meantime, I think that if you want to try this product, find yourself a Menards (where Kate found it) and buy it there. As we write this, she says her store has it — however, it is not available online. 

Disclaimer added by Pam, publisher: Here on the blog, as homeowners ourselves, we may try new cleaning products aimed at solving our own cleaning problems; if we think we’ve found something promising to consider, we may write about it. But, we are not professional chemists or engineers or home economists. So, please: Do your own research into these products and their suitability for your projects before trying them. More info in Terms of Use.

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Amerock-starburst-cabinet-knobs-chromekitchen-and-bath-stain-eraser-in-packageIt all started a few weeks ago when I was in my favorite big box home improvement store — Menards. I was looking through the plumbing section and noticed a display of these Kitchen and Bath Stain Eraser sticks on an end cap. Intrigued by the product’s claim to clean without scratching — especially chrome — I bought one to test. Filled with excitement for this new cleaning discovery I rushed around the house like a mad woman — testing the cleaning power on nearly every piece of chrome I could find. For me, the results were fantastic — as you can see by the numerous before-and-after shots in this post. Especially exciting was the stain eraser’s ability to remove the oxidation and restore the finish my vintage chrome Amerock cabinet knobs and backplates. They had been salvaged from a gut remodel job, the ebay seller said.

amerock-vintage-chrome-knobs-before-and-after-cleaning

I found that using the Kitchen and Bath Stain Eraser was an experience similar to cleaning with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, although the Cramer Stain Eraser also can be used with water. The Stain Eraser looks like it would be rough, but it was surprisingly light weight. As I rubbed the Stain Eraser over the chrome, the Eraser itself began discolor from picking up the oxidation. Further rubbing began to produce small bit of debris and wore down the eraser gradually.

According to Cramer North America’s website:

The Kitchen & Bath Stain Eraser can be found in the toolbox of almost all German plumbers.

Efficient removal of:
  • lime deposits in enamel bathtubs
  • rust and metal marks in enamel bathtubs
  • unsightly grout stains between tiles
  • unsightly stains on tiles
The cleaning compounds in the stain eraser are hard enough to remove stains but soft enough so the surface of an enameled bathtub does not get scratched up. Regular household cleaners often have harsh acidic chemicals that eat away at the gloss of the bathtub tub or sink. Other cleaners contain  abrasive sand particles that dull the surface of the bathtub over time.

Chrome-starburst-Amerock-knobs-before-and-after-cleaning

The back of the stain eraser packaging on the unit I purchased at Menards (January 2013) read:

You know the problem:

paint marks, adhesive residue, metal abrasions and tough stains on bath and shower basins, ceramic sanitary fixtures, sinks, tiles and floors. Often, normal cleaning products fail to remove these residues or cause damage and discoloration to the material. Stain Eraser helps you to eliminate these problems. Stain Eraser’s composition enables you to thoroughly remove deposits without scratching. Usable on enamel, ceramic and chrome surfaces. Not usable on acrylic or fiberglass surfaces! The Kitchen & Bath Stain Eraser can be used with water for improved effect.

The Kitchen & Bath Eraser is

  • acid free
  • solvent free
  • environmentally safe

Additional technical info on their European website:

I was also able to find this technical information on the Bath Rubber (product name in European markets) on Cramer’s european website address diybathrepair.com. The document mentions:

The strong polishing particles in the Cramer Bathtub Stain Eraser have been specially formulated/developed for use with sanitary products. Carefully formulated below the hardness of ceramic and enamel surfaces, this product easily removes paint drips, residual glue and metal marks without scratching these surfaces.

The document also makes the important reminder: TEST FIRST!

before-after-chrome-door-knobs

After seeing such great results on my chrome cabinet knob and back plates — I tested the Kitchen and Bath Stain Eraser on the following chrome objects — and again, all with very good results:

  • Vintage cabinet knobs
  • Vintage doorknobs
  • Light switch plate cover
  • Vintage bar stools
  • Vintage Cosco step stool
  • Vintage arch lamp
  • Bath faucet

before-after-chrome-lightswitch

Other objects that I tried to clean with the Stain Eraser:

  • Soot covered brass fireplace doors — with a little elbow grease, I tried a small spot on the edge of my vintage brass (I think) fireplace doors and the soot came right off and shined up like new. To clean the whole door set would take a very long time using this method, but if all else has failed, this is something I might try.
  • Brass magazine rack — again this worked to an extent, but it would take forever to try and clean the entire thing.
  • Tile grout — worked as well as Mr. Clean Magic eraser on dirty grout.
  • Stains on bathroom fixtures — worked well on the white toilet I tried it on — best when used wet on bathroom fixtures.

Vintage-chrome-amerock-knobs-cleaned vintage-chrome-backplates-clean vintage-starburst-cabinet-knobs-restore

metal polish

If your vintage chrome is heavily pitted or beginning to rust, I do not think that this stick will work miracles — however — this little stain eraser was a wonder on my vintage chrome with oxidation issues. For me, it required some elbow grease and patience, but the results were very rewarding. According to the Cramer website, these stain erasers are available through their website, CramerNorthAmerica.com or at Menards stores.

Want to check out more reader comments about cleaning and polishing chrome?

Pam also asks the question:

  • Okay, now that Kate’s chrome is cleaned up — is there something she can put on top of it to keep the finish bright and shiny and to prevent re-oxidization. What about some Jubilee — the way back time machine TV commercial shows the Mrs. using it a toaster. Readers, any tips?

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Comments

  1. J Morris says

    I do restorations for a living and I use Greased Lightening, Bar Keepers Friend, plain old baking soda, Zep products (does wonders on hard water), and Tre Wax paste wax to protect stuff.

  2. Kristina says

    Just purchased two new to me vintage chrome dinette chairs to go with my table and solo chair. These new chairs were quite rusty but I bought them anyway and my husband sent me this link. I tried aluminum foil first and that worked okay… But I reached under my sink and grabbed Barkeepers Friend, a product I use to clean my stainless pots and pans. Worked like MAGIC!!! I can’t wait to clean my entire set with this stuff! Just make sure you wear gloves, it’s harsh on your skin!

  3. jes says

    tin foil and water. dip the tin foil in the water and scrub at the stained portion. you will see the stain scrub away. take a towel and wipe to polish. you will be shocked.

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