Can You Use An Eraser To 'Unclog' Sandpaper?

Sandpaper is a great tool to help you prep furniture before refurbishing it or rough up other materials for a DIY paint project, but after a few uses, it often feels like your sheet or belt on your sander is losing its power. Instead of tossing it and grabbing a new one, however, there are ways to revive your sandpaper to bring back its original grit. TikTok creator @sidneyraz decided to try out one of these hacks, which claimed that an ordinary eraser could unclog sandpaper and restore its sanding paper. But did it work? The short answer is no.

Sandpaper works because the gritty texture is able to create hundreds of tiny scratches on the surface of your material. These scratches smooth out the imperfections and create a more consistent-looking and -feeling surface, but they also cause small flecks of the material to come up in the form of dust. All this dust can clog up the surface of the sandpaper, making it lose its grittiness and ability to smooth out your material. Theoretically, a household eraser could help lift some of this dust and bring back the texture, but this hack fell short in practice.

Why doesn't this hack work

In his video, @sidneyraz scrubbed away at the sandpaper with his eraser, and, from the viewer's perspective, promising flecks began to fly off of the surface. Unfortunately, however, these flecks were just pieces of worn-down eraser. This hack didn't work at unclogging any of the debris stuck in the sandpaper. Instead, it simply resulted in an eraser that was a bit more roughed up than it was initially.

While it might not seem like the most logical approach to unclogging your sandpaper because small pieces of rubber getting trapped in the paper would likely make the texture even less abrasive, this hack is actually based on something that's commonly used. Specialized erasers do exist to help clean out sandpaper and abrasive belts, like this POWERTEC Abrasive Cleaning Stick (via The Home Depot), but they're made of more stiff natural rubber. Regular pencil erasers have to be softer so they don't damage the surface of your paper when you're removing pencil marks, but this relative softness is exactly what makes them unusable in this situation.

Other ways to unclog sandpaper

Thankfully, if you don't want to invest in a specially-made item to unclog your sandpaper, there are other methods you can use. Wire brushes are great to get into all of the little cracks and remove built-up debris, but they likely won't catch everything. You can also use a wire brush in conjunction with soaking your sandpaper in some soapy water, which can help loosen more stuck-on particles. Finally, you can also use the rubber sole of a shoe. This works the same way as an abrasive cleaning stick, though it could lead to some damage on your favorite pair of kicks.

A common eraser might not be the answer to your problem, but, if you explore some other solutions, you'll easily be able to restore your sandpaper to its previous grittiness in a pinch. If none of these methods are working out for you, however, it might be time to admit defeat and head back into the hardware store for a replacement.