In 1882, chemist George William Hoffman accidentally discovered the cleaning power of oxalic acid after cooking rhubarb in an old pan. He noticed that the pan was cleaner than when he started, and ultimately found that oxalic acid—which is found in vegetables like rhubarb and spinach—could remove tarnish, rust, and lime stains from metallic surfaces.
Hoffman formulated the original recipe for Bar Keepers Friend (available on Amazon), and the rest is history. Read on for 12 things you didn’t know you could clean with this powerful household product.
One of the most popular uses for Bar Keepers Friend is making metallic pots and pans gleam. It works great on stainless steel, copper, and aluminum, and removes stuck-on grime and burnt food that other cleaning products can’t make a dent in. It also works great on ceramic bakeware and cookware made from enameled cast iron.
While the cleanser has plenty of uses in the kitchen, it should never be used on polished stone countertops made from granite or marble. It also shouldn’t be used on porous materials like wood or concrete.
When your light-colored sneakers start to look stained and dingy, it can be difficult to restore them to their former glory. Mix the original Bar Keepers Friend powder formula with water to create a thick paste. Then use a sponge or toothbrush to scrub the mixture into the stained area. Wipe the surface clean with water, and your kicks will look brand new.
Make your brass instruments—like trumpets, trombones, and more—look shiny and new with Bar Keepers spray foam cleanser (available from Amazon). Once a month, apply the product with a microfiber cloth and then wash it off using a damp paper towel. The same process can also be used to clean the cymbals in your drum kit!
Clean up old sports equipment using Bar Keepers Friend. It’s great for adding a new shine to golf clubs, skates, metal baseball bats, and more. To remove rust spots from ice skates, dampen a cotton bud and dip it into the powder formula. Then scrub the affected area until you see the rust disappear.
We’ve all brought home a new mirror or picture frame only to discover that the price tag sticker has completely adhered to the corner. Rather than spending hours picking at it, apply some of Bar Keepers Friend’s spray foam cleanser (available from Amazon) and watch the sticker come off with ease without leaving any residue behind.
While many people love the worn patina of antique brass, others may want to restore the material’s original gold-toned shine. Use the Bar Keepers Friend liquid cleanser (available on Amazon) to clean vintage brass fixtures, sculptures, and other decorative items. While the cleanser works great on brass, it can damage precious metals like gold and silver, so be sure you know what your vintage item is made of before you start scrubbing.
Scuffs and knife marks can mar white plates and other dishes, but they can be completely eliminated using Bar Keepers Friend. Sprinkle the plate with the powder cleanser and then use a damp sponge to rub it into the ceramic surface, forming a paste in the process. After scrubbing for about a minute, you’ll notice the dark lines start to disappear. Rinse the plate and repeat if necessary.
Hit the road with Bar Keepers Friend and use it to clean both the interior and exterior of your car. It can clean tires, wheels, headlights, and the dashboard, as well as the exhaust pipe. The cleanser can even be used to reduce the appearance of superficial scratches on the car’s body. While you’re at it, make your keys look brand new by polishing them with BKF!
The grill of your barbeque can get pretty grimy when it’s covered in caked-on food particles. But even the dirtiest grill is no match for Bar Keepers Friend. Create a paste by mixing the powder formula of the cleanser with water and apply it to the surface of the grill with a scrub brush. Scrub thoroughly and then rinse the grill under cold water.
Bar Keepers Friend does an excellent job cleaning both glass and porcelain, so it’s ideal for cleaning many of your bathroom surfaces, including bathtubs, shower stalls, and sinks. It even works on tile and grout. While the powder, liquid, and foam versions work for these purposes, the brand also makes a specialty toilet cleaner (available from Amazon) that has an extra-thick formula.
Sinks and faucets made from stainless steel and other metals will look shiny and new after being scrubbed with Bar Keepers Friend. This might be one of the most conventional uses for the cleanser, but it’s popular for a reason. The product removes water spots and smudges, making metallic surfaces gleam and sparkle.
When getting your bicycle ready for the season, you can use Bar Keepers Friend on a number of the bike’s parts. Using either liquid or powder Bar Keepers Friend, clean your bike’s chain, frame, pedals, handlebars, and more. Just be sure to rinse every part thoroughly with water before hitting the road.
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