Product Review: Bar Keepers Friend

Am I the last person in the world to find out about a cleanser called Bar Keepers Friend?  A whole container of this stuff only costs $2.95 at Williams-Sonoma… and it cleans things that I thought were unclean-able!

First here is what happened… I recently let a silicone spatula sit on a hot stainless All-Clad skillet for too long – the silicone melted onto the stainless, and NOTHING would take the silicone off the pan.  I even tried to chip it away with a knife (I don’t recommend this).  My husband took the skillet into Williams-Sonoma… they looked at it for 2 seconds, took it in the back for 2 minutes, and brought it back out sparkling as good as new!  They just sprinkled Bar Keepers Friend on it and wiped away the silicone. 

There are a lot of claims of what BKF can do on the container, but here is what I have been able to do with it so far:

  • Remove the melted on silicone off our stainless steel cookware.
  • Remove rust spots from our flagstone patio (still working on this).

Based on my limited experience with this product so far, here are some tips:

  • Let the product do the work for you.  Don’t rub it really hard into things, you can scratch even stainless steel with this stuff. 
  • Use it sparingly.  I wouldn’t clean your pots and pans every day with this.  Maybe once in a while to remove tough set in stains.
  • Try Bon Ami first ($2-3 at grocery stores), if the material is acceptable for use with Bon Ami.  Bon Ami is MUCH less abrasive, and I’m guessing less toxic.

According to the package, you can also clean:

  • Fiberglass, grout, sinks, baths, toilets, chrome, porcelain, stainless, ceramics, plastics, stove tops, tea cups (?), copper, counter tops, imitation marble, tiles, brass, stone, masonry, bumpers, white walls.

According to the package, you should not use it on:

  • colored grout (may discolor)
  • older porcelain (may scratch)
  • gold
  • silver
  • lacquered surfaces.

So what is Bar Keepers Friend?  It is a white powder that resembles baking soda or Bon Ami (Bon Ami is another product I LOVE LOVE LOVE, that is not as strong or abrasive as BKF.  Bon Ami is a safe environmentally friendly must have in every kitchen.) 

The BKF web site says it is environmentally friendly, but the packaging says it contains Oxalic Acid – I have no idea what that is, but apparently it can hurt your eyes.  Until I find out more about the ingredients, I will use this product sparingly and away from children!



  1. The ingredient in Bar Keepers Friend is EXTREMELY TOXIC. The name listed on the bottle is not the “whole” name, as I found out when looking on their website for info after my dog got into it. I found out the compound is called “OXALIC ACID DIHYDRATE” and is very dangerous. Definitely throw this out of your house if you have children or pets, and do not buy anymore. This is a horrible danger. Look at the MSDS (Material Safety and Data Sheets) info for the chemical….not just the product. The product says it is merely an irritant, but further research shows that the compound itself is much more toxic than they lead you to believe. I am not sure how they get away with this, but believe me, I am checking into it and would recommend to anyone reading this to STAY AWAY FROM BAR KEEPERS FRIEND. There are much safer products to use. This one can kill you even in small amounts, whether inhaled, absorbed through skin or ingested. Any contact with this product is potentially harmful. Please to all, READ THE MSDS and decide for yourself whether it is safe for you family or not. I decided NOT.

    1. Oh shut it you little enviro-nutbag. The amount used is so finite you would need to consume gallons to do any harm..Instead of blaming companies and corporations for all your problems you should take responsibility for yourself. Try putting it out of reach, a locking cabinet or something. Losers like you are why insurance and products cost so much because they have to defend themselves from the sheep of the world that needs the government to old their hands and make nice little rules for them to keep them safe. Freakin libs!!!!!!!!!!!Maybe your LORD OBAMA will come to your aid.

    2. I know that alarmist posted in 2008, but I just had to respond. Wow. What a snapshot of the worst of the internet that post is.

      Ok, dufus, Oxalic Acid is chemically different than Oxalic Acid Dihydrate. Oxalic Acid OCCURS NATURALLY IN MANY FOODS, like Rhubarb. Yes, you would have to consume about 12 pounds of Rhubarb to poison yourself, but you can drown by drinking too much water. Did you know that?

      God forbid, “anyone reading this” better stay away from WATER!!! You can drown from that stuff if you drink too much of it.

      I have a dog that will eat anything, and he won’t even sniff Bar Keepers Friend. Even if he did, it would taste very bitter. This isn’t like the child who drinks some cleaner because it has a sweet taste.

      Unlike your characterization, this is the one cleaner that you can actually use and not have tears in your eyes because it is killing you to breath it. There’s hardly any smell at all when used properly.

      Yes, i said when used properly. If you want to worry that some 2 year old will snort it like cocaine, a highly unlikely occurrence, then I guess you can freak out and tell “everyone who reads this” that your “checking into this” because how can they “get away” with this?

      All the while you have explosive fuels in your car, extreme poisons you’re using near your washer and dryer, and things much more toxic like AJAX or many of the bleach sprays which will make you cough up a lung right away.

      Bar Keeper’s Friend is a great product, has been around since the 1800’s, and is based on a simple formula. No, don’t drink it. No, don’t eat it. It’s a cleaner for crying out loud. Put it where you put other things that pets and kids should not get into, but you don’t need to ban it from your house.

  2. The idea that this is so toxic it will kill you is pure paranoia!!!!! I have been using it for years.(18+) and I amazingly am still alive. I don’t eat it for breakfast or anything but I have cleaned a lot of things with this product from bathroom tiles(all 4 of my children are still alive and healthy as well) to the stainless steel sinks in the kitchen. My grandmother recommended it to me and she is 96 and been using it for who knows how long. Get a grip on yourself and realize how many things in this world are dangerous in large concentrations( LIKE CAFFEINE) Besides oxalic acid is present in tea leaves, rhubarb, black pepper, spinach, chocolate, nuts and most beans just to name a few.

  3. Oxalic Acid can be dangerous if you inject it at 75mg/Kg of body weight. If you weighed 150 pounds, you would have to injegest 5 grams (about two tablespoons) to be at a point of having a 50% chance of death. You shouldn’t need more than 5 grams to clean most things.

    This product is great for stainless steel. It cleans it very well while also applying a layer of oxide which is what makes stainless steel stain free! Using bleach or a metal scrubby will actually cause your stainless steel to rust.

  4. So I guess a little cancer doesn’t hurt either. I know that we all have products that we love and think that we can’t do without, but does it really matter if every little spot and stain does not come out compared to keeping our planet healthier. I’m tossing my can not to be replaced. Baking soda and Bon Ami will work just fine for me and be better for all other living things.

    Besides maybe no one will notice the spots and stains of my aging body if everything else is not perfect either.

  5. I can’t posibly agree with the above post, and would like to take to task a few of the OP’s points. Not everyone will see your point of view and though I am one of them, I do respect your right to have your view. Either way I have enjoyed reading Product Review: Bar Keepers Friend Welcome to Bobbletown.

  6. I agree with the above writer that BKF is extremely toxic. Unknown to me, my father started to dump it into the dishwater when doing the dishes in order to sterilize them. Admittedly, this is an incorrect use of the product. However, just the residue on the cups and dishes caused my beard to turn from brown to gray in two weeks. I also lost some hair on my head and body, and my fingernails started to thin. And because the product has no smell or taste, you don’t know you’re injesting it.

    Do not use this product! It IS poison!


  7. Will Barkeepers friend Remove Lime and Alkaline scale and hard water stains thats encrusted and not removeable by acidic chemicals that we have tried on large office building windows and black stone cladding on the buildings exterior walls

    URGENT PLEASE and how would you use it, as its also not available As BKF in South Africa how would one get hold of it?

  8. Wonderful stuff. Bar Keepers Friend can tackle in moments tasks that other products can’t handle, period. I swear by it.

    I’ve used it for years.

    I learned to use it from a fellow who’d used it for decades. Since before I was born (I’m 50).

  9. Barkeeper’s friend should not be ingested. Neither should drain cleaner or gasoline. All three are useful products however and are safe for use by any reasonable intelligent person.

  10. If some product has a toxic substance, why mess around. Today they just found out that methylparaben does cause cancer. That one has been up for grabs for about 30 years. Now scientifically proven. OK. Thanks to all of the poor people who have been brushing their teeth, wearing sunscreen, etc. with this product in it. Why do you think so much skin cancer? Prostate cancer?
    Wake up and smell the roses without BAR KEEPERS FRIEND. “OXALIC ACID DIHYDRATE” is cumulative. You say you’d have to drink x amount of the stuff, well, how about inhaling it and having it being absorbed into the skin? Wake up.

  11. I’m sure that plenty of people will tell me that what I am about to tell you is not typical, the user’s own fault, etc. BUT
    I know an intelligent capable woman who was scrubbing out a stained tub. She used Bar Keepers Friend…and bleach. The combination quickly created some kind of toxic gas that made us cough horribly. I know that bleach is not to be mixed with this product, it says so on the label, but it happened. The result is a nasty poison gas, not sure exactly what, but definitely not good for you.

  12. Bahama Bob
    Does it clean & renew glass that is exposed to the sea salt . We live on the ocean and can’t get the windows clean !

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