9 Things You Can Do With Bar Keepers Friend

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Learn how to use Bar Keepers Friend in ways you'd never thought of before, including cleaning rusty tools, removing a stubborn toilet ring and more!

Go-to cleaning product Bar Keepers Friend (BKF) has developed a cult following, and with good reason. The inexpensive powdered cleaner invented by chemist George William Hoffman in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1882, can do much more than polish brass bar fixtures — the job it was originally marketed to do.

What Is Bar Keepers Friend Made Of?

Bar Keepers Friend’s seemingly magic powers come courtesy of its main ingredient, oxalic acid. This natural substance attacks rust, lime, tarnish and other stains on a molecular level, breaking the bonds holding them together to eliminate all trace. It works on multiple surfaces, too.

“BKF powder has just the right blend of powdered oxalic acid and micro-abrasives to safely scour off even long-term mineral build-up without damaging fiberglass, chrome or stainless steel,” says Melissa Homer, chief cleaning officer with MaidPro.

And at a mere $2 a can, you can’t afford to ignore its cleaning power!

How To Use Bar Keepers Friend

Our cleaning experts suggest mixing the powder with water to create a paste, then wiping it off after a brief period. Extended contact can damage finishes.

Homer recommends creating a thick slurry of 1/4-cup BKF mixed with a little water. Smear the slurry onto the surface you want to clean, let sit for 10 minutes while the acids work their magic, then scrub. “Dampen, sprinkle, smear, sit and scrub, and you can clean virtually anything,” Homer says.

The manufacturer says to avoid using BKF on porous surfaces like cast iron, granite, marble, wood, fabric, leather or painted surfaces.

Ways To Use Bar Keepers Friend

Read on for a host of ways to put this hardworking, inexpensive helper to good use all over your home. A few caveats before you start: Wear gloves, don’t mix with other cleaning products, and always test in an inconspicuous spot first.

Refresh bathroom surfaces and fixtures

Homer recommends smearing a Bar Keepers Friend slurry on hard water spots, mineral deposits and rust stains on glass shower doors, fixtures, tubs and sinks. You can use it on toilet rings, too.

Clean the toilet with your favorite bathroom spray, flush and pump the flusher [in the toilet water tank] to lower the waterline,” she says. “Sprinkle the powder on the ring, smear it around on the stains with your brush, wait 10 minutes and scrub.”

Remove rust on tools and more

Apply the paste directly on the trouble spot, let sit for a minute, then wipe away. This helps all kinds of items in your garage, including golf clubs, garden tools, ice skate blades and old bikes.

Pro tip: Use a cotton swab to scrub hard-to-reach spots. “I saved a dirty old classic Radio Flyer tricycle with rusty handlebars from the landfill with just a can of Bar Keepers Friend and the back of a kitchen sponge,” Homer says. “I had it looking like it just rolled off the factory floor in less than 20 minutes.”

Get rid of sticky labels

Use Bar Keepers Friend Spray Foam Cleaner to dissolve adhesive and easily remove the annoying residue left behind by labels. Simply spray and let it sit for a minute before wiping clean.

Renew a fireplace

Use Bar Keepers Friend to remove layers of grime and soot stains and from the fireplace door. Remove the insert and lay flat. Wet the glass and sprinkle with BFK. Wait 15 to 20 seconds, then lightly scrub with a wet sponge. Rinse and repeat until sparkling.

Clean kitchen surfaces

Sinks, cookware, appliances and more can benefit from a little BFK. For stainless steel, use a microfiber cloth or non-abrasive sponge and clean with the grain.

On glass cooktops, go with BKF Cooktop Cleaner. First, scrape off any food. Then cover the affected area with cleaner and let it sit, no longer than five minutes. Wet a sponge, apply more Cooktop Cleaner to the sponge, then wipe the stained area in a circular motion. Rinse the sponge and wipe cleaner from cooktop.

Scour siding

Give dingy vinyl siding a good scrub with a Bar Keepers Friend and water solution to help it look new again. Wet a section of siding, scrub the solution on with a wet sponge, then rinse well.

Detail your vehicle

BKF can cut through carbon buildup on your exhaust pipes and make dirty hubcaps shine. It can also turn cloudy headlights clear again — clean, then dampen before sprinkling with BKF. Gently scrub, let sit for up to a minute, then rinse with warm water. Repeat until sparkling.

Update dishes

To get rid of stains and scratches on mugs, glassware and porcelain servingware, sprinkle BKF on a damp sponge and wipe onto the scratched surface. Let sit for 10 to 15 seconds, then lightly scrub with a damp sponge. Rinse and wipe clean.

Refresh sneakers

Make a paste of BKF and water and start scrubbing to clean shoes. All surfaces except leather can benefit! Use a toothbrush to detail rubber soles and edges. Scrub until clean, then wipe off remaining cleaner with a damp sponge.

Andrea Cooley
I'm a working mom of 3 who loves making our house a home, inside and out. Freelance writer and copy editor for Meredith Premium Publishing and former editor for Country Home and Lowe's Creative Ideas. I love living in a 100-year-old home that is full of character.