Hello there and welcome to a new series we’re doing called Deep Cleans! This will be raw and unbiased reviews of some of the most popular cleaning products out there. This article isn’t sponsored in any way and is designed to provide you with everything you need to know about how these products work, where to use them, and how best to use them. I’m also going to share with you some health and safety info that you, your family, and your pets should know when using these products. Let’s get to it!


Today we’ll dive deep into one of the most underrated cleaners on the shelf, Bar Keepers Friend. This company has been manufacturing and selling its canned scouring powders since 1882, so they know what they’re doing! It was initially invented by chemist, George William Hoffman, in Indianapolis, Indiana. It was first sold to bars as a bar cleaner, hence the name Bar Keepers friend and the funky, little bar doors on the logo.

The primary active ingredient here is oxalic acid, which makes it particularly good at removing rust. Bar Keepers Friend still uses the exact same recipe today as they did in 1882 and it’s still doing the trick! Good things don’t need to change. The brand has expanded to include liquid, cream, and spray cleaners, as well as specialty and commercial cleaners. They cover bathrooms, counters, cooktops, sinks and so much more.

Since 1957, Bar Keepers Friend has been manufactured by SerVaas Laboratories, and data from 2016 shows that the product was manufactured at a rate of 60,000 cans per day. This is popular stuff!


As I mentioned earlier, the key ingredient in Bar Keepers Friend is oxalic acid. Like other acidic cleaning products, it is great at removing tough stains and heavy grime, but there are some precautions that you need to take around the product due to its strength. Although it looks like a friendly white powder, don’t be fooled, you’ll want to be very careful where it ends up. Acids can etch or slightly damage surfaces around your house and can hurt your skin. You definitely do not want to inhale this product or get any near your eyes, nose, or mouth.

Now, I’d like to read you some of the warnings that are on the back of the package, as they often get skipped and passed over. Bar Keepers Friend is an eye irritant and a skin irritant. You are not, at any point, supposed to mix it with other chemicals. I’ve seen articles online talking about mixing it with vinegar or dish soap. My advice is, just don’t do it. This is some very powerful stuff on its own and if you need an alternate formula or consistency, then try a cream or liquid cleaner

There is a little sticker on the top of the product that you are going to want to keep your eyes on at all times. It should remain closed whenever it’s not in use. Now, this is not at all a product that I’m frightened of, but it’s always good to understand the limits and safety precautions of a product so that you know how to use it safely.

When I use Bar Keeper’s Friend I always make sure to wear gloves and on occasion, safety glasses as well. Remember, it never hurts to be careful! It is also recommended to always ventilate the area when using a product like Bar Keepers Friend in a small bathroom, always, always, always keep it in a safe place where your pets and kids can’t get into it.

Product Overview

One of the things that I hear from people when they discuss cleaning products is how overwhelmed they get when entering the ever-growing cleaning product aisle. How does one pick from the hundreds of different options? Bar Keepers Friend itself even has several different product options. Which one is right for the job? I know how confusing it can get, especially with so many products covering similar issues, so it’s tough to find the right one for your job. The thing to do here is just kind of break down the product line and think about what each particular cleaning formula can do.

Let’s start with Bar Keepers Friend’s basic powder, the golden can. This is the most popular version that you see almost anywhere and it works like magic when using it on stainless steel sinks. You know me, I love using baking soda to clean stainless steel things but here, Bar Keepers Friend, has it beat. The label talks about it being safe for stainless steel, porcelain, ceramic, copper, and even brass. It’s also good to use on fiberglass, so you can give your fiberglass tub or shower a good scrub. It truly gives your sinks that extra little bit of sparkle. I promise it works wonders!

The best way to go about using this cleaning powder is by gently portioning out some of the product onto the surface that needs cleaning. Often times I’ll tell you to pre-treat and let the product work, but here we want to wet a sponge or cloth and begin to clean immediately. Now, remember, Bar Keepers Friend is made of acid and is super reactive, so it’s not recommended that it is left on a surface for more than a minute, otherwise it can cause etching or damage delicate surfaces. The rule of thumb here is don’t sprinkle it and leave it unattended, and definitely don’t leave it unattended when it’s wet. This product is so powerful, you’ll want to work with it and have it rinsed off all within a minute.

Bar Keepers Friend can also be helpful in the kitchen area. It can help clean cookware, sinks, stoves, oven doors, and even non-stone countertops! It will make your pots, pans, and cutlery shine like never before and will help you buff out any knife marks on your ceramic plates! Now, make sure you do not use this product on granite or marble, as it can cause serious damage to those surfaces.

You can also use Bar Keepers Friend in the bathroom to clean sinks, tubs, showers, faucets, toilets, tiles, and grout! Freaky grout is the perfect place to try out this product. It will quickly and completely remove mineral deposits, soap scum, and rust stains that you’ve been meaning to tackle for a while. If you constantly see rust in your toilet, shower, or faucet, then it’s time to start using Bar Keepers Friend. It will soon become your secret weapon!

It’s even great for the outdoors. Bar Keepers Friend works to clean steel grills, barbecues, vinyl sliding tools, hardware, ornaments, boats, and even some sporting equipment. Now, we’ve talked about this before, but I will say it again, always test products on a hidden area first, before going ahead and using it to clean. This will ensure that you do not damage any surfaces with a strong product.

When using Bar Keepers Friend on stainless steel surfaces, always clean in the same direction as the grain. This way you will not create any micro-scratches on the metal. This stuff really is perfect for stainless steel surfaces if you know how to use it. It is also not recommended to be used on silver, gold, polished stone, and surfaces that are lacquered, painted, or, mirrored, as it can cause damage to these surfaces.

If you’re wondering why Bar Keepers Friend came out with a soft cleanser, it is because some people prefer this delivery method to the powder. Similar to Soft Scrub or Vim, the soft cleanser is already mixed with liquid and can be used right out of the bottle, as is. No need to add water or any other liquid, just pour out and start scrubbing away!

They also have a product called, Bar Keepers Friend More. This is the tough stuff and it’s used for heavy-duty cleaning! It removes grime from hard surfaces, oily residues, mineral deposits, and rust stains. Sometimes you go into a serious situation that has not been cleaned for quite some time and you simply need to break out the big guns. This is where Bar Keepers Friend More will come in handy and become your ultimate cleaning formula.

Finally, there is a Bar Keepers Friend line made especially for cookware. Some folks like to use powders to clean their stainless steel cookware and cooktops and this is where Bar Keepers Friend helps.

Final Thoughts

We used to have a glass cooktop at home and now have a gas cooktop, but I cannot tell you how many times Bar Keepers Friend has saved my stovetop and left it sparkling. Chad once bought every Bar Keepers Friend product he could find at our local grocery, but you can also find them at big box stores or online if you are looking for the full product line.

My hope here is that you will now understand a bit more about the different options in the product line and can find the right product for every job. Bar Keepers Friend is extremely versatile and can be used in different ways. Remember, cream cleaners are easier to work with but powder cleaners work faster and more powerfully.

So, now that we’ve learned about the product’s history and its uses around the house, I’m going to tell you about how I use it. Whenever I have a big cleaning challenge ahead of me or am feeling too impatient to use my DIY stuff, I will break out my Bar Keepers Friend and get to scrubbing. I have to admit, I can be quite lazy and this product is a perfect solution for those sleepy days and long cleaning sessions. It works efficiently and effectively, doing the work for you and giving you more time to enjoy your space instead of cleaning it!

Before we begin though, we always suit up and put on some good rubber gloves to protect from such a strong cleaning agent. Remember, always protect yourself and anyone else using strong products like this by always following safety precautions. I put it on a surface, scrub it down with a sponge, and then give it a quick wipe with a dampened cloth, cleaning it off quickly. Simple and easy! Try using Maker’s Clean’s popular DUO Cloth to give your surface a solid final wipe.

I have been working with Bar Keepers Friend for well over a decade and have come to truly appreciate its cleaning power. I often talk about creating DIY products and methods for tackling your cleaning task, but here I have to give it up for the store-bought product. Sometimes tough jobs call for specialty products and that’s when you need a product like this.

Bar Keepers Friend is, at the end of the day, quite a small, family-run business. Whether speaking to them for the first time or being a regular customer, they are always ready and able to take phone calls and answer any questions. They are kind, compassionate, and great at what they do. Despite its quaint size, this little company has a huge fan base and has become very successful in the cleaning world.

If you are a professional cleaner you should definitely add this product to your cleaning kit. As they say, time is money, and Bar Keepers Friend will get you great results in half the amount of cleaning time. Quick and powerful!

I think that Bar Keepers Friend is a product that every household should have. Again, this is not a sponsored article, and I know the product can be a bit more expensive, but I have seen it help people who need to tackle tough jobs, time and time again.

Thank you for coming on this little journey with me, I hope you learned a little something, had a little fun, and will be ready for our next edition of, Deep Cleans! Now, get cleaning!

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Melissa Maker is an entrepreneur, cleaning expert, founder of Toronto’s most popular boutique cleaning service, and star of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube (but she still hates to clean!). Every week, Melissa delivers new videos dishing expert advice on cleaning products, tools, DIY substitutes, and practical, timesaving solutions to everyday problems. Melissa has appeared on the Today Show, and has been featured in InStyle, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.


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