12 Things You Can Do with Bar Keepers Friend

updated Jun 7, 2019
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Have you ever used Bar Keepers Friend? This hard-surface cleaner has a cult following in some circles. It’s made by a family-owned company that manufactures in Indianapolis, Indiana. The active ingredient is oxalic acid, which you can also find in rhubarb, spinach, and other veggies. Bar Keepers Friend is biodegradable and safe for septic systems, too. And it’s got a cute back story: It was discovered by accident when a chemist, who was boiling rhubarb, found that the pot he was using got clean as he cooked.

But all that would be meaningless if it didn’t work! Besides being a homeowner favorite, this acid-based cleaner is endorsed by a lot of the big players in the kitchen space (among them: All-Clad, Calphalon, Eletrolux, Viking, Formica, and Kohler) as the best way to clean their products.

How does it work? Oxalic acid is slightly more acidic than white distilled vinegar, and BKF (as we affectionately call it) has an abrasive in it that’s slightly rougher than baking soda to help loosen up grime. Because it’s so strong, you wouldn’t want to use it on something porous like stone or fabric, but it has all sorts of uses around the kitchen.

12 Ways to Use Bar Keepers Friend in the Kitchen

  1. Cleaning rust off ceramic
  2. Polishing tarnished copper
  3. Scrubbing scuffed porcelain dishes
  4. Cleaning rust deposits out of dishwashers
  5. Cleaning caked-on food from a slow cooker
  6. Degunking stainless steel pots and pans
  7. Degreasing gunky stovetops
  8. Deep-cleaning induction cooktops
  9. Getting rust off knives
  10. Sprucing up chrome appliances
  11. Polishing brass silverware
  12. Removing caked-on dust from windows

For each of these, the directions are about the same when you use the original cleanser: Shake the powder onto the spot, let it sit, use a sponge or rag to scrub it up, then rinse. The combination of acid and abrasion is what does the work.

Oh, and if you’re wondering why it’s called Bar Keepers Friend, that’s a fun story too: It was originally marketed to bartenders to keep their brass bar rails shiny.

Do you use BKF? What’s your favorite use for it?