Cleaning

The Cleaning Product I Swear By for the Dirtiest Pots & Pans

Doing the dishes just got a lot easier.

November  7, 2018

Scrubbing pots and pans isn’t something to write home about. Or is it? Take a scroll along the Bar Keepers Friend Amazon page and you’ll start to think cleaning is exciting:

“‘Bar Keepers Friend’ should really be called ‘Homeowner's Magician!’” says Kat. “Leaves EVERYTHING clean, sparkly, and shiny!” says Small~Town~Girl. “It works!” says Dan. Couldn’t have said better myself, Dan. It just works.

Say, that time you were trying to blacken chicken but ended up blackening your pan. Or when you tried to fit a big gratin into a little casserole dish and cream poured onto the bottom of your oven. Bar Keepers Friend to the rescue.

Shop the Story

The cleaning products brand has been around since 1882. So the story goes, a chemist in Indianapolis was cooking some rhubarb when his stained pot was, suddenly, stained no more. A miracle! Indeed. But also: oxalic acid. As the company explains:

Found naturally in rhubarb and other vegetables like spinach, oxalic acid attacks stubborn rust, tarnish, and lime stains at the molecular level, breaking the bonds that hold them together. Using that active ingredient, our chemist formulated an oxalic acid-based cleaning powder that he sold to taverns for use as a brass rail polish.

In the years since, Bar Keepers Friend has expanded beyond its original powder form, and is now used for a heck of a lot more than brass rails. I swear by the Soft Cleanser, which is premixed (read: easiest). All I need to do is squeeze a pea-sized amount onto a damp sponge, scrub, and rinse.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“I love Barkeepers' Friend, and it is my go-to for most cookware situations, not to mention helping obscure stubborn glass rings on marble countertops. For cast iron, however, the most effective method I have found for removing blackened anything (like char from high heat grill roasting, or similar) is to sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda on the pan (about a half cup for a 12 inch cast iron skillet), add water, and heat until a slow boil, for at least 20 minutes, occasionally scraping the bottom of the pan with a sturdy heat-resistant utensil (like a stainless spatula or flipper), with special attention to spots you know were especially crusty. The soda seems to react with the fat and protein in the baked on char. You will have to reseason the pan, but I don't think any method of cleaning a seriously encrusted pan would leave the seasoning.”
— Alison
Comment

I mostly use Bar Keepers Friend for stainless steel pots and pans. But it’s just as great for, ahem: ceramic, porcelain, glass, sinks, stove cooktops, oven door windows, scratched up plates, non-stone counters, sinks, baths, showers, faucets, toilets, and tiles. Whew. (It’s not intended for gold or silver, polished stone like marble, colored grout, or lacquered, painted, or mirrored anything.)

More than anything, I love that it means I can dirty the same amount of dishes, but spend less time cleaning them. That is pretty exciting.

Have you ever used Bar Keepers Friend before? Thoughts? Share in the comments below!

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Linda Wood Nielson
    Linda Wood Nielson
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    Debbie kogan
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    ellemmdee
  • C. Gresham
    C. Gresham
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    Alison
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Emma is a writer and recipe developer at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing stories about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now, she lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter.

12 Comments

Linda W. March 1, 2019
I've used this for years and loved the results until I used it to clean my beloved LeCreuset and it took the gloss off the inside. Now I use baking soda, but I miss how easy it used to be to clean the cooked-on food.
 
Debbie K. March 1, 2019
My go to cleaner for my pots, pans and my porcelain sink is Bon Ami. I find Bar Keepers friend has too much of a chemical smell to it. I also once splashed some on my brand new counter top which is a honed slate and it left some spots! After that I only used Bon Ami as my go to cleaner, even if my pans suffered somewhat in the cleaning process.
 
ellemmdee March 1, 2019
I’ve been a friend of Barkeepers for many years. It’s even recommended by fine ceramic maker Heath for their dinnerware. It also puts the shine back in my ancient copper bottomed Revere Ware stainless steel pots and pans and gets rid of the weird white marks left by beans and some other veggies on the stainless steel. Thanks for the informative history lesson about this reliable cleaning product.
 
C. G. November 30, 2018
I have used bar keepers friend on my new cooktop range and it works better than the product which came with the stove. I have also used on enamel coated cast-iron. It works well but my cast-iron is still stained. I haven’t let it sit overnight due to the fact that directions say not to leave it sitting long. I also love this product for my newly renovated kitchen; I installed a cast-iron sink as opposed to a stainless steel sink and bar keepers friend is less abrasive than such products as Comet or Ajax cleanser but I have also used Bon Ami.
 
Alison November 14, 2018
I love Barkeepers' Friend, and it is my go-to for most cookware situations, not to mention helping obscure stubborn glass rings on marble countertops. For cast iron, however, the most effective method I have found for removing blackened anything (like char from high heat grill roasting, or similar) is to sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda on the pan (about a half cup for a 12 inch cast iron skillet), add water, and heat until a slow boil, for at least 20 minutes, occasionally scraping the bottom of the pan with a sturdy heat-resistant utensil (like a stainless spatula or flipper), with special attention to spots you know were especially crusty. The soda seems to react with the fat and protein in the baked on char. You will have to reseason the pan, but I don't think any method of cleaning a seriously encrusted pan would leave the seasoning.
 
Smaug November 14, 2018
I've found the boiled baking soda method to be the best for pretty much any type of blackened cookware (I'm reluctant to resort to lye). I'm always amazed how few people seem to know it.
 
Cookie November 8, 2018
My go-to for really bad burnt-on messes is Oxi-Clean powder which will eat through anything organic if you mix it with very very hot water and let it sit for a few hours, or overnight. It works great on cast iron, enamel, glass, anything. It will take part of the seasoning off of cast iron, but you simply need to oil and heat the pan again after cleaning to re-season. With glass or enamel, it may leave a whitish residue or film, but it can be easily scrubbed off with dish soap and a non-scratch scrubber sponge. I have been using the same set of Danish cast iron saucepans, pots, and baking dishes for 33 years, and it still looks and functions perfectly despite numerous disasters with burnt-on casseroles, sauces, meats, etc. -- thanks to OxiClean.
 
Asaracoglu November 7, 2018
What about for enameled cast iron?
 
Author Comment
Emma L. November 7, 2018
Hi! I actually don't have any enameled cast iron, so I haven't tried this myself. Curious to hear if others have! I can't find anything on the brand's site that addresses this particular material, so—even though it's not on the do-not-use list—the best route is probably to test a small area to double check first.
 
Lisa M. November 7, 2018
It will clean enamel, but it's so good, it leaves the surface dry looking. Older enamel looks like it needs lotion after cleaning. I've never tried it on newer pieces.
 
Liora November 11, 2018
I've used Barkeeper's Friend on enameled cast iron as well as my other favorite, Bon Ami. Both work well but if it's stained or burnt on, I'd use the B.F.: moisten and sprinkle generously, then let it sit overnight. I love the stuff. Warning, though, B.F. cannot be used on conjunction with another cleanser. I've found that it can be fumy. I haven't had that experience with B.A., though.
 
Smaug November 7, 2018
I'll have to look into this Soft Cleanser version- the original BK's friend- and it's counterpart Zud- are too abrasive for regular use on pans.