6 Things to Never Do With Bar Keepers Friend

updated Sep 12, 2022
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

Bar Keepers Friend can tackle mineral deposits on the shower door, rust on the grill, crayon marks on your painted walls, and so much more. It certainly does belong in every cleaning caddy and is worth considering for messes in rooms throughout the house. 

But just like any good thing, there are limits to what you can safely do with Bar Keepers Friend. Knowing what not to do with Bar Keepers Friend can make you more confident when you use it everywhere else. 

Here are six things you should never do with one of the most versatile and effective cleaning products out there.

1. Don’t leave it on too long.

Instructions state that Bar Keepers Friend should be thoroughly rinsed from the surface you’re cleaning after one minute. Leaving the product on too long can cause discoloration on some surfaces, so don’t take a chance with this one. Use a timer and be sure to rinse it off once it’s worked its magic.

2. Don’t use it without getting it wet.

Bar Keepers Friend in classic powder form allows users the flexibility of adjusting the ratio of cleanser to water, but Bar Keepers Friend should always be used wet because inhaling it is a respiratory hazard. To make sure you aren’t inadvertently kicking powder up into your breathing zone, wet the surface you’re cleaning first, sprinkle on the cleaner, and immediately use a damp scrubbing cloth. Alternately, use the pre-mixed Bar Keepers Friend Soft Liquid Cleanser

3. Don’t use it without protecting your hands.

Bar Keepers Friend is oxalic acid and can wreck havoc on your skin, especially if you use it for a prolonged period or use it frequently. In addition to making sure you’re not inhaling it, it’s important to protect your hands by wearing gloves

4. Don’t actually use it on everything.

Here are some surfaces that aren’t compatible with Bar Keepers Friend: gold, silver, pewter, marble, lacquered metals, anodized aluminum, mirrored surfaces, granite, colored grout, lacquered surfaces, silver (other than sterling silver), fabric, wood, leather, polished stone, cast iron, and marble. 

5. Don’t use it on stainless appliances without knowing this fact first.

Bar Keepers Friend can remove rust, and this includes those irritating marks on your stainless steel refrigerator. Just know that Bar Keepers Friend can compromise the coating that minimizes fingerprints. If getting rust streaks off your unit is more important than maintaining its fingerprint-free promise, by all means, go for it! We just wanted you to have all the facts. 

6. Don’t mix it with other cleaners.

Mixing cleaning products is always dangerous, and this bears repeating when discussing what not to do with Bar Keepers Friend. In particular, when Bar Keepers Friend, an acid, is mixed with bleach, toxic chlorine gas fumes are produced. Use Bar Keepers Friend alone, and rinse any areas you used it on before using any other cleaners in the same spot.