What is Bartender’s Friend?
- February 12, 2023
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You can clean and you can clean and you can clean, but life has a way of staying dirty. For those stains, there’s Bar Keepers Friend, a powdered detergent that removes stubborn stains and deposits from non-porous surfaces. It took me a while to decide on this cleaner because why introduce a new product into my life when I already have a half-empty bottle of Comet under the sink? Do I trust this bartender or his friends? Is that stuff just baking soda or disguised bleach? (Neither is it.) But after spending more and more time with BKF, I converted. I may not know exactly who this Bar Keep is, but this cleaner is certainly a friend of mine.
What is Bartender’s Friend?
Bar Keepers Friend comes in a cylindrical container with holes on the top, like a giant salt shaker. There are three things going on with the white powder it contains. Kevin Patterson, VP of Institutional Sales, explained it this way: “(1) The oxalic acid reacts with alkaline deposits such as calcium, scale, rust stains and hard water stains such as iron scale, etc. (2) Our ‘scrubbers’ ((often as mild abrasives referred to) assist in the physical removal of these deposits, as well as cooking-related soiling from grease, burn marks, dirt, etc. (3) Finally, the superior detergents used in BKF cleaners help in two ways: they “soften” the greases, soils, etc .on contact, which helps the first two components work even better, and they also aid in the rinsing process by keeping dirt suspended.”
TL;DR: So we have the acid that picks up those serious surface defects, and then an abrasive soap powder that tackles all the oily dirt and spaghetti sauce stains. In chemistry I would have paid much more attention if we had scrubbed old metal sheets.
But beware, Bar Keepers Friend is a powerful weapon! I made some mistakes and defaced a few pans, so I wanted to share what I learned. I even turned to the experts at Bar Keepers Friend for tips – friendly folks, it turns out. Before you break out the hard stuff, here are some important factors to consider.
How do I use Bartenders Friend?
Put on a pair of dishwashing gloves. Sprinkle a little BKF on the troubled area or the entire surface of your evil fire pot, then add a few drops of water and make a paste. Let it sit for a minute. scrubbing. Wash. Repeat if it’s not already there.
Use Bar Keepers Friend for:
Stainless steel pans (and other stainless steel cookware)Stainless steel cutleryStainless steel sinks (or even the exterior of stainless steel appliances like refrigerators, ranges, and dishwashers; spot-check an inconspicuous area first to see if it has a special coating)Tin pansCooktopsGlass oven door (did this recently, was amazing)Glass bakewarePorcelain (Dishes or sinks)Stained/cloudy glassware (be careful)Enamelled or lacquered Dutch ovens (I tackled an old lodge Dutch oven that had sticky oil splatters all over it, and now I’m not embarrassed to look at it when I open my cabinets) Corian countersChromeFormicaCopperInstant Pot (the stainless steel case and pot inside too)
Do not use it for:
Marble, granite, stone of any kind. Uncoated cast iron. Non-stick pans. wooden and wooden cutting boards.
What is your sponge situation?
Stay away from the green scouring pads and definitely no steel wool. I figured scrubbing with the green scouring pads would be particularly effective, so I ended up getting scratch marks all over my sheet pans (well) and in my pasta pot (not happy about that). Stick to the gentler blue scouring pads, the abrasive side of your sponge, or a scouring dad/mom. If you’re super paranoid about wanting to ruin your heirloom casserole dish, grab a microfiber towel.
Scrub Daddy Sponge (3 Pack)
The biggest mistake you can make
We’ve been taught to think that “letting things sit” makes cleaning easier, like soaking a pot full of leftover spaghetti sauce in soapy water overnight because you don’t feel like dealing with it. This is the danger zone in Bar Keepers Friend. The most common mistake people make is leaving the product on for too long, which will etch the surface of what you’re cleaning (aka scraping the Bejesus out of it). I did this with a stainless steel pot. And then I made the same fatal mistake with an enamel pot. The BKF has scrubbed through the porcelain coating and now you can see a speck of metal underneath. It’s rustic I guess.
Why can’t I just use baking soda?
“Baking soda is a base, meaning it’s alkaline,” said Patterson of BKF. “It has little to no effect on alkaline stains like rust or mineral deposits/buildup like scale, calcium etc.” Bar Keepers Friend contains oxalic acid as an active ingredient and as you might remember from science class an acid will neutralize a base. Plus Bar Keepers Friend also includes detergent and mild abrasives to literally wash food and dirt off pans. Baking soda is just… baking soda.
Other great products from Bar Keepers Friend
While the OG Bar Keepers Friend comes in powder form, the brand offers a variety of cleansers — including sprays and creamy liquid formulations — for specific tasks. For example, you have a cooktop cleaner that is specifically designed to remove grease and hardened food residue without scratching or dulling your cooktops (this product can also be used on glass, metal and ceramic cookware). They also have a less intense, gentle cleaner that is a pre-mixed formula for quick cleaning tasks; This sticks easily to vertical surfaces and is the first choice for removing dirt such as soap scum, water stains and mineral deposits from glass shower doors. And while most Bar Keepers Friend products should not be used on polished stone, their granite and stone spray is safe for most countertops.
Bar Keeper’s Friend multi-purpose hob cleaner
Bar Keepers Friend Soft Cleanser
Bar Keepers Friend Granite and Stone Cleaner
This piece was originally published in 2020 and updated in 2023 by Tiffany Hopkins.