The foam is manufactured in Germany by BASF under the name "Basotect". It has been used for over twenty 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.
It is also the component of Magic Eraser and similar cleaning products.
It is also used as the main sound and thermal insulation material for bullet trains, due to its high sound absorption, excellent thermal insulation performance and light weight.
In the early 21st century it was discovered that melamine foam is 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 reticulated foam bubbles interconnect, its structure is a 3D network of very hard 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 and wood finishings, plastic-adhering paints from treated wooden tables, and adhesive residue and grime from hubcaps. 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 Featured Properties". Retrieved 13 May 2012.
- "HowStuffWorks "Melamine Foam"". Retrieved 13 May 2012.
- "Mr. Clean Magic Erasers: Creative Uses For These Household Cleaning Blocks That Truly Work Magic! - The Fun Times Guide to Household Tips". Retrieved 13 May 2012.