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I get asked so many times how to clean old melmac dishes. If we lived in 1950's I'd say to use this funky cool cleaner that was obviously sold to clean melamine dishes. This dinner cleaner was made by Rosmar, and states that it "removes coffee, tea, and food stains from all plastic melmac and melamine dishes!" Now who really knows what's in this old can of magic, but supposedly it worked miracles. I wrote an article all about cleaning your melmac dishes on Squidoo here.
I have to be honest when I say I have used more comet powder than mosst when it comes to melmac. This is solely because the majority of the issues you will experience with wear and tear on your melamine dishes is unsightly knife marks. I like to call this "knife marring" and if truth be told a lot of people will think these dishes can't be saved. I run very hot water over the plate surface and with rubber gloves hand rub the comet into the knife mark. The comet is almost a paste form since the only water was that which I ran over the plate. I let it sit for some time then use a toothbrush to rub it deep into the cracks. I find it works best if you run the toothbrush in hot water first too. I have seen stubborn stains removed from most dishes in about thirty minutes using this method. Sometimes if the surface is white then you will need to rinse off in hot water an repeat for optimum results. I want to add this same method I use for removing stains inside melmac coffee cups and for that I follow the same methods but use a scotch sponge...the kind with green on one side and sponge on the other. I scrub the stain with the comet powder ala paste with the green scrubbie then let it sit for thirty minutes. Using hot water to rinse is a must.