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. Janice says

    Besides all the chrome I have in my house (especially my vintage chrome and laminate kitchen table and chairs), I’m going to have to try this on all the chrome I have on my Harley! What a great tip and yes, I agree with the prior comment. How brave of you to try this on something so precious as those door knobs and backplates. I just scored some of these in copper for my bathroom remodel, but will have mine chromed. Is it bad karma that I’m doing this to something authentically vintage?

  2. Daniel Lay says

    Before you go out and spend a fortune, try a bottle of plain old vinegar.
    I dropped a handful of BADLY rusted chrome handtools in a pyrex dish full of vinegar,left them over night, and used some rags on them the next morning and many of them came out almost new looking. Some that were badly pitted did not, but those star backed knobs at the top of this article would have probably done just as well, or better,with just vinegar. I poured it back into the jar,rust remnants and all, marked it as poison, and have reused it many times. I just keep adding more vinegar as needed.

  3. Dan says

    Kate, if you don’t mind me asking, what keywords/search words did you use to find those cabinet pulls on eBay? I was looking on eBay for some of those, but couldn’t find any. I really like those starburst shaped knob backplates.

  4. Mr Kim says

    Hello there,

    I’ve been using a ball of aluminium foil and vinegar for ages and it works very well. The aluminium is too soft to actually scratch the chrome but it does remove rust and dirt. Then I use car wax (the one for the chromed parts) to coat it. I usually give two coats; the first one fills in imperfections and little holes, whereas the second one is for a more durable protection. I buff very well with an old cotton towel between coats and after. If the element is a lamp which hangs and is never handled, there’s no need to rewax in one year or one year and a half.
    In case you wonder I’ve got photos of before/after taken from a chair I recovered from my father’s attic with all the chrome full of rust points and completely dull. I restored it using only aluminium foil, vinegar, and a white label chrome cleaner from the supermarket.

  5. Lorie says

    I’ll try this on my chrome mag rack but I have a brass one as well that I was hoping to shine up. I also have some 2″ brass door pulls (original to my house) that I was hoping to bring back to their original luster.

    Is there anything out there that will help shine brass up as easily and as good as the stain eraser?

  6. says

    I have had very good results just popping hardware like this into the dishwasher for a couple of rounds. Also works for stove knobs.
    FYI I have a nice set of atomic cabinet handles that need a home. Please ping me. I’ll pop them on Ebay soon.

    Nice job!
    Diane Menke
    Myers Constructs Inc.
    myersconstructs.com

    • Scott says

      I can’t speak to metal parts in the dishwasher as I’ve never tried that, but I would advise not attempting this with plastic parts as it can completely remove every shred of the chrome plating.

      And yep, that was something I learned the hard way.

  7. Rebecca says

    On a different note, I have a few aluminum kitchen items including brushed aluminum canisters and I found from experience that Cameo Cleanser (for stainless and aluminum) is the best! It is however getting hard to find. They were discontinuing it at my local store so I cleared the shelf a couple of years back!

  8. Linda says

    I just got my money refunded from Cramer’s website. No clue why but I’m continue to search to buy the product.

    • Kate says

      Linda — I updated the story above — not sure what’s going on with the company because I emailed the them asking for an explanation several weeks ago when Pam and I first started hearing that orders were being refunded and have not received a reply at all.

      If you have a Menards I would look there…otherwise I’m not sure what to tell you — sorry!

  9. Lorie says

    I received a refund after waiting for 2 weeks for my order and then emailing them to inquire about my shipment.

    Oh well. My Lowe’s and Home Depot don’t carry it but maybe my local Ace will.

    • Kate says

      Lorie — I’m baffled with the availability issues with this product — I emailed the company asking for an explanation several weeks ago when Pam and I first started hearing that orders were being refunded and have not received a reply at all. I’ve updated this story to mention these issues…

      If you have a Menards I would look there…otherwise I’m not sure what to tell you — sorry!

      • Lorie says

        Kate, thanks to you and Pam for trying to sort this out! If they only knew how many sales they were missing out on…

  10. Chris says

    I just wanted to add to the other comments about ordering this product through the Cramer website. I have been looking to purchase the eraser since my titanium wedding ring has left dark marks on the kitchen and bathroom sink. Supopsedly this is the only product that works getting these marks off (I’ve triedsoft scrub, Bon Ami, Bar keepers friend all with no luck). I first tried purchasing last fall from Cramer. After 5 weeks of nothing I wrote and asked what was up. I got a response from Cramer through PayPal that they were waiting on a shipment from Europe. They refunded my money and said to place another order after Sept. 29. In December I placed another order – again, nothing. I e-mailed and got no response. I called phone nymbers I found listed and all were disconnected or went to fax. Finally I e-mailed all the international email addresses I could find for Cramer. I hear fromthe UK who said they forwarded to Germany office. Nothing. Finally got another note through PayPal saynig the order simply got lost and a refund, but still no product. I WOULD SUGGEST ORDERING NOTHING THROUGH THE CRAMER WEBSITE!
    Good news is it now looks like you can order and have shipped from Menards.

  11. Denise says

    I looked for it at Menard’s in Chicago and found only 2 locations in the entire Chicago-area that still carry it:

    9140 SOUTH HARLEM AVENUE
    BRIDGEVIEW, IL 60455

    4701 W CAL-SAG ROAD
    CRESTWOOD, IL 60445

    I wonder if the Clorox Bath scum pads would clean stuff like that?

  12. 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.

  13. 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!

  14. 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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