In the course of time in my kitchen, a few of my stainless steel pots and pans have picked up some baked-on spots and patches of discoloration. It's normal, but not very pretty and it can gradually worsen over time. One pot in particular was becoming fairly stained, and a friend suggested I try a product called Bar Keepers Friend.
I found a little gold can of Bar Keepers Friend in the cleaning supply section of my grocery store. It is considered a "mild abrasive" and contains oxalic acid, which I assume is the primary reactive agent. The can set me back about $2.00. For that price, I thought it was worth a shot.
There are two ways to use Bar Keepers Friend, according to the directions on the canister. You can wet a washcloth and sprinkle the powder on the cloth before starting your cleaning. Or for heavier stains, you can make a paste with a little water, rub it into the surface you want to clean, and let this sit for a few minutes.
For my stained stainless steel, I opted for the later option. I put the pan in the sink and dribbled a little warm water in the bottom. A sprinkled on a generous portion of Bar Keepers Friend and used an old cleaning sponge to mix it together and wash it up the sides. This was a little more watery than the "paste" recommended by the directions, but it still seemed to do the trick.
Ten minutes of intensive scrubbing later, my pan was clean. This definitely took more elbow grease than I'd been expecting, but since no amount of elbow grease (or natural cleaners) had done anything before, I'm not complaining. There are still a few little flecks of discoloration here and there on the sides, but overall I am very pleased with this afternoon's labor!
Besides stainless steel pots, apparently you can use Bar Keepers Friend to clean tiles, imitation marble, chrome, porcelain, ceramic, and copper. It's also supposed to remove rust spots, which my husband is eager to try on his bike. I used barely an eighth of the can on my three pots, so there's plenty left for more cleaning experiments.
Have you ever used this product? How do you like it?
(Images: Emma Christensen)