I Test Out Bar Keeper’s Friend

by Katy on April 3, 2017 · 30 comments

This blog post first appeared over at ClarkHoward.com.

I’m always on the lookout for multi-use products to use in my home, (fewer products bought = less money spent!) but Bar Keeper’s Friend, (BKF) never made it onto my radar as I assumed it would duplicate my trusty Bon Ami. However, members of the Laundry Love and Cleaning Science Facebook group sings its praises, so I decided put it to the test. I paid $2.89 at my Kroger store, although I see that sells for $1.99 at Target. Available in multiple formulas, I chose the classic powder.

This bleach-free “cleanser and polish” has been around since 1882, when “an Indianapolis chemist noticed how clean and shiny his tarnished pot was after cooking rhubarb. Using an active ingredient that’s found in the plant he formulated a talcum-smooth cleanser and sold it to the city’s taverns.” And it’s still manufactured in Indianapolis!

The Environmental Working Group reports “some concern” for skin allergies and irritation, although “low concern” for environment. I chose to wear protective gloves.

This “talcum smooth” product is gentle enough for surfaces that scratch easily. For this very reason, it’s popular for stainless steel.

Since Bar Keeper’s Friend is formulated to remove rust, I decided to start with a propane grill that a neighbor had recently put out for free. I first spritzed the grill with water and then sprinkled a bit of BKF onto a sponge. A quick scrub and the surface looked almost new! Grade: A+

Next up was my stovetop. This area isn’t normally visible, as it sits under a removable tray, but it still bothers me. I’d been unsuccessful with cleaning attempts in the past, but I’m an optimist. This before-and-after took a full ten minutes of elbow grease, and I’ll call it a success. (I would have kept going, but I needed to take my son to the dentist.) Grade: B+

I’d also read that people use Bar Keeper’s Friend to remove utensil marks from dishes. I have a large collection of vintage Fiestaware, but the ivory color always looks terrible. I’d been hesitant to scrub them with a normal abrasive cleanser, but that promised “talcum smooth” texture calmed my fear of ruining the glaze. 30, maybe 45 seconds of scrubbing and the plate looked perfect. Holy moly, so much better! Grade: A+

The Bar Keeper’s Friend website warns that it’s not for use on gold, silver, pewter, marble, lacquered metals or anodized aluminum. However, it’s recommended for rust, lime, porcelain, stainless steel, chrome, copper, brass, fiberglass, acrylic, glass, tile, grout and certain solid surfaces such as Corian.

Apparently it’s especially great for those who live in areas with hard water. That’s not an issue where I live, so I wasn’t able to test this claim.

I do kind kind of wish that I owned something with extreme rust like these vintage ice skates:

Or a thoroughly burned stainless steel pan, as the internet abounds with very satisfying before and afters, like this one from the Bar Keeper’s Friends website. Need more convincing? Read these testimonials from regular users:


“I use it to clean my glass stove top and stainless steel sink. I LOVE it!”


“I just used it the other day to clean the grout in my laundry room. It did an amazing job! “


“BKF powder is superior for stainless, baked on food and really filthy bathroom stuff, so I keep it on hand.”


“I mostly use it on my stainless steel pots and pans when a regular soak and scrub doesn’t get stuff off”


“I use it on my dog’s stainless steel bowls that are quite gross and difficult to clean without BKF. They shine like a new nickel when I am done with them.”


“If you have hard water, nothing compares to BKF.”


“The possibilities are endless. It’s inexpensive and works like a dream.”


The great thing about Bar Keeper’s Friend is that at $1.99, it’s a low investment for something that has the potential to clean and shine the surfaces of stuff you may have considered ruined. And when you can prolong the life of your belongings instead of replacing them, you’re learning to keep more of what you make.

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

jennifer April 3, 2017 at 5:51 am

I have been using this stuff for years because my mom always used it. This post made me think of a few more things I could do with it. Thanks for the reminder, Katy!


Amy April 3, 2017 at 6:02 am

That is awesome! I’ll be adding that to my list for when I go to the grocery store next. I’ve got a stainless steel pot that’s seen better days that my Grandma gave me when I moved into my first apartment many moons ago. It’ll be nice to have it shiny again.


susanna d April 3, 2017 at 6:04 am

I’ve been using Bar Keeper’s Friend for several years, ever since my daughter-in-law suggested it. Love the stuff. For some reason I never thought to use it on our not-very-pretty gas grill – until I saw your results. Thanks!


ilona Watzlawick April 3, 2017 at 6:33 am

I always have a can of BKF by my sink … it works on so many things … I suggest ultra-thorough and repeated rinses with the product since it tends to leave a powdery film if don’t rinsed properly.


Bee April 3, 2017 at 6:39 am

It is the only thing that will clean my white enamel kitchen sink. It is 23 years- old, but sill looks new. Also works on enamel cookware such as LeCreuset. It is a great product.


WilliamB April 3, 2017 at 7:38 am

The US Navy uses Bar Keeper’s friend all the time, and they know something about scrubbing and keeping things clean in tough environments. If it’s good enough for the Navy, out there in salt water, it’s good enough for me.

I didn’t know about enamel – that could be useful, too. I’ll have to check out the website to see what other uses I’m missing.


Betty Winslow April 3, 2017 at 9:17 am

Have been using it on my Faberware for 30+ yrs and it still looks great!!


Annie April 3, 2017 at 9:19 am

Haven’t tried BKF yet, but I too love my Bon Ami. I love the way it gets rid of the baked-on spots on our Corningware casserole dishes.


Rb April 3, 2017 at 12:00 pm

BKF is my BFF!!! Mix with dishsoap for a great soft scrub in the bathtub.


Sharon April 3, 2017 at 12:47 pm

It’s what is generally recommended to clean the rainbow discoloration on stainless steel pans when they’ve been over-heated. Works a treat — as the Brits say.


Jill A April 3, 2017 at 1:22 pm

Barkeepers Friend is my favorite. I use it in my shower and bathtub to remove the rust that eventually stains it. I just make a paste, rub it around, let it sit a little bit and rinse off.


Nicoleandmaggie April 3, 2017 at 2:38 pm

It is the only thing that gets our cheap white countertops clean.


That Other Jean April 3, 2017 at 2:44 pm

Wow! I’ve heard of it, but never bought it. That goes on my shopping list NOW.


Susanne g April 3, 2017 at 3:26 pm

Thanks for the well researched info. On the list it goes.


Leah @ The Frugal South April 3, 2017 at 3:32 pm

I love BKF, but not as much as I love Borax. I use it as a general purpose cleaner and that stuff will seriously clean ANYTHING, and do it quickly. I used it to scrub our dirty tub and fridge and they looked brand new.


Ruby April 3, 2017 at 4:10 pm

The 62 year old white porcelain sink in the laundry room of our house was appalling — just blackened from neglect — when we bought the place, and nothing got it clean until I went after it with BKF. It’s now snowy white again.

A paste of BFK was what I used to remove stains from my son’s white canvas sneakers when he was a little boy. It also makes copper shine again and will rip right through soap scum on tile.


Marie-Josée April 3, 2017 at 5:00 pm

I love the fact that an Indianapolis chemist was cooking rhubarb in the 1880’s since it was such a sexist time.


Katy April 3, 2017 at 7:00 pm

I included that detail on purpose, such a wonderful detail!


Jean April 3, 2017 at 5:50 pm

BKF has cleaned my copper pots for 30+ years, at a considerably lower cost than any copper cleaner I’ve seen. Also my go to grout cleaner, coffee carafe cleaner, glass oven door cleaner and it takes black heel/sole marks off vinyl and linoleum floors like no other!


Diane C April 4, 2017 at 5:06 pm

I love BKF, but lemon and salt clean and shine copper like magic. If you have a lemon tree or access to one, this is even cheaper!


Teresa April 3, 2017 at 6:49 pm

The powder works a lot better than the more expensive liquid version.


Kathy April 3, 2017 at 9:14 pm

This is the cleanser that I have used all my life. My mom and grandmother also have always used this cleanser. I keep a can under every sink. I do historic house restoration, and this makes all the porcelain and tile look brand new. I also use it on my old glass windows for the clearest shine.


Kimberly April 4, 2017 at 1:24 am

I have been using this stuff for several years and it is terrific and cheap. I have an ivory porcelain sink that gets lots of utensil marks and stains; I use the BKF powder to clean that to almost like new. I also use the powder for my stainless steel pots and pans (although most often a metal scrubbie –which I store in freezer to prevent rusting– and some dish soap does the trick). I have a stainless steel stove top and I like to use the liquid BKF to clean that because it is easier to rinse clean.


Christina April 4, 2017 at 7:45 am

I’ve used Barkeeper’s Friend for years, but until I saw your before/after of the plate I had no idea what those marks were on my plates and bowls and in fact, had considered replacing them. I did a little scrubbing with the bkf yesterday and the utensil marks are gone. Thank you so much!


Diane C April 4, 2017 at 5:13 pm

I have used BKF, but I never thought to use it on scuffed dishes! I tried Bon Ami on them and it didn’t do a whole heckuva lot, so I sold them in a yard sale! Thankfully, they were extras we did not need. Perhaps the person who bought them knew this trick. Thanks, Katy!


Deb April 7, 2017 at 8:30 am

I have a set of Cuisinart pans that I bought six years ago for $100. I have been so disappointed because they tarnish easily. As a result, I have been looking at the expensive pan sets that run hundreds and even thousands of dollars but could never find a reasonably priced set that was not too heavy. After reading your review of Bar Keepers Friend I found a can at Hy-Vee for $1.99 and tried it. I am thrilled with the results! The pans look like new and I am going to keep them instead of spending money on a new set. Thanks Katie!


Katy April 7, 2017 at 9:20 am



Debbie July 15, 2017 at 8:26 pm

For your stovetop, try an SOS pad (or whichever off-brand available). I’ve never had it scratch, but start in an inconspicuous place first just to be safe. It is great for cleaning glass baking dishes as well.


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