Honestly, This Is the Best Stainless Steel Cleaner I’ve Ever Used

updated Jun 28, 2021
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Andrew Bui

There are some people who are fanatical about a clean kitchen … and then there’s my mother. I aspire to be like her some day. My mama doesn’t just clean often and well — she cleans efficiently. She’s the sort of woman who, with an extra 10 minutes before work, will unscrew all of the light fixtures from the ceiling and clean them with a homemade vinegar solution. Me? I spend that sort of time going down an Instagram rabbit hole, but then that’s why she’s the aspirational element in this story.

Anyway. I’ve learned a lot from my mother about cleaning. She taught me that the most effective way of cleaning kitchen floors is to dilute a little solution with water, remove all of the furniture from the room, and get on your hands and knees with a rag. To this day, it’s the only way I wash my kitchen floors (mops be damned). She instilled in me a love of line-dried linens, especially on crisp spring days. She knows how to get stains out of everything, and in my 33 years, I have yet to see a speck of dust in her living room. But the most valuable thing she’s ever taught me is that there’s a “best cleaner” for stainless steel.

If you know, you definitely know: Bon Ami is the best stainless steel cleaner on the market — and it has been since 1886.

Bon Ami (“good friend” in French) makes two products and two products only. They’re not fancy, they’re not fussy, and they’re not fragranced. They’ve never been “cool,” which is apparently a weird new requirement for household products. They’ve been doing green cleaning for so long, they don’t even need to jump on that marketing bandwagon. They just work.

The original Bon Ami, which is still produced, is made from two ingredients: feldspar and tallow soap. Feldspar is a natural, nonabrasive mineral. The nonabrasive part is important; it means that Bon Ami won’t scratch hard surfaces while it cleans. While I can appreciate the O.G. Bon Ami, the tallow soap is a bit of an issue for me (tallow is beef fat). As a practicing vegetarian, I try to avoid animal products. Luckily, Bon Ami also makes a second product, which is equally effective and simple. Bon Ami Powder Cleanser replaces the tallow soap with limestone, another natural mineral that gets the job done, also without scratching up surfaces.

The fact that Bon Ami doesn’t scratch is a huge selling point for the product; it actually inspired their logo, which is a just-hatched chick. As the story goes, baby chicks don’t scratch at the dirt like grown chickens. (Apparently there were a lot more farmer-types in need of a good all-purpose cleaner in 1886. These days, the reference doesn’t land quite as cleanly.)

In addition to not scratching surfaces, Bon Ami also won’t corrode surfaces, muck up your hands, or stink up your house with the scent of “Tumbling Waterfall” or whatever other trendy fresh scent is hot right now.

Credit: Rochelle Bilow

I’ve found that their magic solution wonders on every surface in my kitchen, but where it really, ahem, shines is on stainless steel — especially my stainless steel kitchen sink. I cook a lot, and I don’t have a dishwasher. So after a day or two of pots, pans, plates, and food waste knocking around my sink, I am in need of a non-fussy cleaner to spiff things up. Bon Ami does the job in minutes flat. I’ve gotten in the routine of washing the sink after my last batch of dishes most evenings.

You can also use it to clean your bathroom, your countertops, your crusty-rusty stainless steel pots and pans … the list goes on. My process is to dampen a reusable rag and either sprinkle Bon Ami over what needs to be cleaned or to put some on the rag. Then, I run the rag in a circular motion, creating a paste out of the cleaner. Finally, I rinse and wipe dry, and step back to admire the sparkle.

Honestly, it’s so satisfying.

Credit: Rochelle Bilow

I will cop to another reason I’m in love with this product: The brand’s refusal to play the marketing game by adding scents or changing its formula. Heck, with its nerdy font and clunky graphics, even the packaging stands out from more modern branding. (“This packaging has been around for a long time and harkens back to a lot of our history,” Sarah Pfeiffer, associate brand communications director, explained over email.) In an increasingly complicated world, I value a cleaning solution that wants to stay simple and small. A girl needs something she can count on, you know?

All this said, I should mention that Bon Ami is not an antibacterial cleaner. (Something we’re all looking for during this global pandemic.) So you may find it helpful to use a second, disinfecting cleaner in high-traffic areas of your home.

Related: The Difference Between Cleaning, Sanitizing, and Disinfecting — Once and For All

I may never be as fastidious of a cleaner as my mother, but my sink will always be spotless. And you know what? That’s not nothing.

Have you tried Bon Ami? Do you love it as much as Rochelle does?