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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
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    Near Saxonburg, PA
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    Thumbs up Stained Vinyl + Mr. Clean Magic Eraser = Shocking Results

    I'll admit it - I got lazy last fall when I ran out of time and ended up putting my boat away dirty having barely enough time to perform the mechanical tasks of winterizing the boat.

    As I'm sure a lot of you know, cleaning all the sunscreen / natural oil from your skin / everything else off your boat as much as possible before tucking it into a dim or dark storage for the winter is a great way to help stop mildew and mold from having "food" to grow. My boat was no exception, and this spring my 2 year old upholstery was tainted rather nicely by mother nature's little devil.

    Seeing as how I'm fortunate enough to have the ability to replace the damage my laziness caused, I'd rather avoid working on my own boat when I catch a day off, I started trying to clean it being as safe as possible. The recommended vinyl cleaners failed to make much of a dent and the not so recommended but common methods failed as well on a test piece so I bailed thinking I had a new winter project if i wanted spotless upholstery again. Then a fellow boater gave me a "Mr. Clean Magic Eraser" that he swore by a few weeks ago and after seeing the results he had I tried it out recently.

    I don't know what is in the sponge having not had the packaging material to read (a quick search on the web turned up very little other than false rumors about kids getting chemical burns from scrubbing themselves with the same product), what harm it could cause, or what the lasting effects are on the vinyl itself but I can only offer these endorsements:

    -The boater who gave it to me cleaned his entire interior with them a year ago and continues to use them as needed and the vinyl hasn't turned into a cracked mess / looks very "healthy" despite its age and the use of the product.

    -I used one and couldn't believe how with ordinary water the sponge got rid of my mildew stains effortlessly from white vinyl. To be safe I misted plain water on the piece that I cleaned afterward and wiped it down with a clean towel to remove any residue of what may be in that sponge (nothing shows up when wet, no soapy trail, no bubbles, nothing - just dirty water but there has to be something in it to make it work so being paranoid, I rinsed afterward with clean water.

    -I'm in the upholstery business and leery of "magic products" that sound like something from an infomercial but in an attempt to quickly to fix my earlier laziness with more laziness, I tried it anyway and was more than pleased with the results. I am in no way encouraging anyone to damage their boat from misuse of chemicals in an attempt to rally for more business - truth be told someone out there may use this suggestion and avoid getting new upholstery so sharing this tip probably isn't in the best interest of churning up business for myself. I don't care either way, I just want to share the experience with the community in case I'm not the last person to hear about the use for the product.

    As always, read the instructions and I highly suggest the test run on an inconspicuous area of your boat if you choose to give it a go because a different brand of vinyl or color may have less satisfying results. (The author of this post is not liable for any damage Mr. Clean may cause to your boat - but if any negative results occur I'd be interested in hearing about it so I can tell people NOT to use it).

    Also, if you can, determine whether or not your vinyl would benefit from a conditioner after cleaning. Before I got into the business I was of the impression that using a vinyl / leather cleaner and conditioner was a good idea on vinyl but have since learned that most vinyl manufacturers recommend against using a conditioner after cleaning. Part of me wants to believe they're looking out for our best interests, part of me suspects they want to sell more replacement vinyl... do your own research and form your own opinions instead of taking mine on this topic please.

    They work pretty well on the rest of the boat as well too so if you're looking for something that you can toss in a cabinet to make light work of some cleaning with river water or clean water in a spray bottle I'd suggest picking up a pack of them. (No I don't have stock in the company or work on a commission).

    Greg

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    PITTSBURGH, PA
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    Greg,
    been using magic eraser since it came out, without any problems what so ever. I always treat seats afterwards with 303 vinyl protectant. My seats have tenara thread, which i'm told is the best thread out there. What do you know about it?
    http://www.stgroup.org/



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Pittsburgh, PA
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    692

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    Greg, thanks for the informative post. We need as much of this kind of info on the site as possible!

    I have used the magic erasers a few times with no damage or negative results yet. This post actually reminded me that I do have some hidden under the sink on the boat and should get them out and take care of a few spots that have been bothering me. Thanks!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Pittsburgh, PA
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    Greg, thanks for the informative post. We need as much of this kind of info on the site as possible!

    I have used the magic erasers a few times with no damage or negative results yet. This post actually reminded me that I do have some hidden under the sink on the boat and should get them out and take care of a few spots that have been bothering me. Thanks!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Near Saxonburg, PA
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    67

    Default about those seams... good question

    Quote Originally Posted by gsent View Post
    Greg,
    been using magic eraser since it came out, without any problems what so ever. I always treat seats afterwards with 303 vinyl protectant. My seats have tenara thread, which i'm told is the best thread out there. What do you know about it?
    http://www.stgroup.org/
    I'm glad to hear it's been used for a while, I knew I couldn't have been the first here to learn about it but I was leery recommending it with such little use.

    Tenara is a thread that I offer as an option on all of my canvas but unfortunately not enough people take advantage of it. I say I recommend it on canvas (instead of canvas and upholstery) at this point because of my amount of experience with using it on upholstery at this point, but expect it is the superior choice for upholstery as well. I describe it as a "lifetime thread" meaning it should outlast whatever it is holding together. The marine standard in thread is polyester which should last 4-5 years but varies upon how much exposure it sees during a year (winter storage factors for covers, upholstery that is covered obviously has limited exposure, etc). I've re-stitched canvas as young as 3 years old when it was black Polyester thread used on black canvas and I can't help but imagine the sun and heat got the best of it in that particular case.

    If you look at the strength ratings on Tenara versus Polyester you'll find that Tenara has a lower break point when it comes to pressure. However, a properly fabricated piece of canvas or upholstery should never have enough pressure to break Tenara. Thread typically breaks because of degradation caused by exposure to the elements and abrasion more often than from stress. Improperly used Tenara (wrong size, wrong stitch length when sewn, etc) can fail just as easy but when used properly it is as close to a "lifetime" thread that I can think of.

    Tenara thread adds a nice little chunk to the price of a piece of canvas or upholstery but I always say thread is a pay now or pay later item. In my opinion its better and cheaper to pay now instead of later. Case in point, most canvas shops here will stock black and "clear" Tenara thread (as do I) and I offer it as an option. For an example, I typically include the price of the upgrade on each of my estimates and a recent one for a flybridge cover would have added roughly $50 to the price of the cover. Now the Sunbrella that the owner went with should easily give him 10 years of use but somewhere during the lifetime of that cover its going to need re-stitched because the polyester will degrade and the seams will fall apart. To re-stitch a cover of that size will most likely cost the owner $150 in labor an materials a handful of years down the road from now assuming labor is relatively the same price as it is today.

    Tenara comes in other colors if you have something you want to match the thread to more than going with my standard "Henry Ford" philosophy that you can have any color as long as it is black (or clear), but because of the high price per spool and vast amount of colors available I can't stock them all. If you want teal you're going to have to pay for the entire spool in the smallest size available because the likelihood of me finding another use for it down the road - and you're welcome to take the left over thread with you for safe keeping and future repairs at the end of the job since you paid for it.

    Besides costing more later to re-stitch later instead of paying up front with Tenara, if you have a cruiser where the enclosure stays up to act as your cover so it is more exposed I usually highly recommend Tenara. The reason being is in addition to there being a lot of stitching to replace, it's more critical to keep the stitch line in the same place. You have a little wiggle room in re stitching a cover, but moving a stitch line 1/8 of an inch can change how that top fits and looks afterward despite a canvas fabricators best attempt to remove the old stitch and sew the new one in the same place. Often I'll stitch beside the original stitch line on a bimini to ensure the pieces don't shift during the repair but when it comes to my shop already in pieces lining up the holes and stains on the canvas are the only guide.

    Tenara adds one weak link in that you'll want to pay more attention to applying your 303 fabric guard to the stitch lines and seams more often than the canvas may need to ensure the inside of your boat stays dry. Standard polyester thread, despite being non-wicking (meaning it doesn't absorb water), does swell just a little after getting some moisture which helps plug the holes from the needle. Tenara looks more like fishing line than a standard twisted thread so as a result it won't change in size and the seams and stitching need to be treated annually (in my opinion) to ensure you have the best chance at keeping the dry side dry.

    I have been to shops up on Lake Erie that use nothing but Tenara and someday will probably take that route myself but until I find that all of my clientele understand the value received in using it I'll continue to offer it over making it the only option. By making it an option I try my best not to sound like a car dealer selling paint protection but I know that is how most folks perceive the suggestion. Truthfully - its more frustrating to work with than the standard thread so while I'd prefer to work with Polyester all day long, I want to sell the best product in town. But, very few people even consider it and the reason is always the same: "This cover lasted X years, I don't need the fancy thread." Well the reason why I'm meeting with them is is usually because they contacted me for a new cover when really all that was wrong was the thread had let go and they failed to clean and treat their cover for the past 5 years so its easy to skip paying $150-300 for me to clean, re-stitch, and treat their neglected cover to get another 5 years out of they want to pay $700 for a new one that with the same lack of care will last that same 5 years. If they were smart they'd opt to pay for the $750 one with Tenara and not be in the same situation 5 years later but who am I to tell them not to come back to see me in 5 years instead of 10... its their money. But, each has a purpose - if you're planning on stepping up to a new boat within a couple of years I guess it makes sense for you to save the money on thread to spend on that extra gadget on your next boat I imagine...

    This whole topic of thread brings up a good point when it comes to cleaning. When you are caring and cleaning your canvas or upholstery, be careful around the stitching. I've seen too many covers or seats where the thread is standing up in frays because you can tell its been scrubbed as hard as the material its stitching. Thread is fragile by nature but abrasion is up there on the list with water and UV rays when it comes to enemies. Scrub around the thread, not over it, and you'll get many more years of use out of it - especially when it comes to upholstery. With upholstery, by the time your seams fall apart the piece needs replaced, not repaired like canvas a strong majority of the time, so take care of those stitches! Brand new polyester thread on a new cover can be destroyed the day you get it if you decided to scrub that bird dropping off that seam of the cover with the wrong brush, the wrong cleaner, and too much pressure.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    PITTSBURGH, PA
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    Default

    Thanks greg, very informative.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Near Saxonburg, PA
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    Default

    My pleasure - feel free to ask away any time.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Forest Hills
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    731

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nelis Customs View Post
    My pleasure - feel free to ask away any time.
    Greg,


    I have a bimini cover that needs cleaning, I'll tell the wife about that tip.

    Sorry I never got out the day you came out in your boat....now I forgot what happened now.

    BTW--- my cockpit cover is still working great.


    Chuck

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Cranberry Twp, Pa
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    181

    Default

    Magic Erasers do work awesome. But just so you know, these things are abrasive and do remove the protectiveness and sheen on the vinyl. No amount of 303 will restore it.

    I spot clean with them on My 1990 sport which could use some new skins in areas.

    New boats should be cleaned with the manufactures suggestions. Use the magic erasers sparingly.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Near Saxonburg, PA
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    67

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Steelerguy View Post
    these things are abrasive and do remove the protectiveness and sheen on the vinyl. No amount of 303 will restore it.

    I spot clean with them on My 1990 sport which could use some new skins in areas.

    New boats should be cleaned with the manufactures suggestions. Use the magic erasers sparingly.
    I agree that new boats should be cleaned with the manufactures suggestions.

    I'm also sure if you really stand on one of these sponges while you scrub you would find it to be abbrassive and take away the sheen, but you can do just as much harm with a wet rag if you press hard enough. Just use common sense if you want to try them.

    Thanks for the clarification Steelerguy, apparently I wasn't completely clear on the use of these but it wasn't intended to be some sort of "the new way to clean upholstery" thread. With older boats / vinyl you need to be even more cautious when you clean them with anything because the wrong amount of pressure on a wet paper towel will crack your brittle vinyl once it hits that point.

    If you'd ever like an estimate on those tired skins, I'm roughly 25 minutes from Cranberry by the way.

    Greg

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Cranberry Twp, Pa
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    181

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    Niel,
    You do upolstry as well?
    What kind of vinyl do you use?
    Do you imbrorder?

    I have only heard good things from this place.

    http://www.nautiqueskins.com/
    Last edited by Steelerguy; 07-09-2009 at 11:41 AM. Reason: Typo



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
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    Near Saxonburg, PA
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    Yes, I do upholstery as well. Embroidery is an option on both upholstery and canvas however I do not have the high end type of machine needed to do it right on site and would have to travel to have it done so it does add a little time and a few bucks to the job.

    As for the type of vinyl, I use too many to list. I use everything from the OEM brands to more advanced and high quality brands designed to last longer than the original. About 95% of the time I can match the grain and color of your existing vinyl with one of the dozens of brands I sell.

    I heard good things about the place you mentioned from one customer of mine but I have yet to see the results of his attempt at installing them himself. A common mistake when doing so is using anything less than stainless steel staples in the appropriate size so beware if you go that route. If you wanted to buy their skins and have me install them I wouldn't be offended by the way.

    Speaking of embroidery... if anyone ever needs anything custom made, go see Debbie at EmbroidMe in Wexford. Nothing but top notch equipment and reasonable pricing. www.embroidme-wexford.com Tell her I sent you if you go.
    Last edited by Nelis Customs; 07-10-2009 at 08:38 AM. Reason: forgot to answer a question

  13. #13

    Default Wipe Out Eraser NaNoFiber

    Hi there, I Love the Magic Eraser but they don't last and they shred apart. I just attended the Boston boat show and I picked up an eraser for boats called Wipe Out Eraser. This is a boat eraser that is much bigger and thicker then the magic eraser. I also bought a 3M handle they sell that helps the pad wear evenly so you get even more use out of the pad it didn't rip apart. I highly recommend this product because is a great product made better. Hope this helps
    www.wipeouteraser.com

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    penn hills
    Posts
    43

    Default

    If you have a nasty stain that wont come out, use the magic eracer and westly`s bleach-white. if that dont work, nothing will, go see nellis.





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