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8 Ways NOT to Use Bar Keepers Friend  

June 16, 2021

There’s no denying that Bar Keepers friend is an amazing product. Our fans sing the praises of our products all the time. However, there are times when BKF products are NOT recommended. While BKF cleaners are highly effective in combating rust and grime within mere minutes, there are things you shouldn’t do, and certain surfaces you shouldn’t clean, with BKF. After all, it’s a very powerful cleanser. Here’s our guide on the ways NOT to use Bar Keepers Friend:

8 Ways NOT to Use Bar Keepers Friend  

1. Please Don’t Leave it on too Long 

Bar Keepers friend is amazing at how quickly it works. For most applications letting it sit for one minute is enough for BKF to work its magic. 

“The biggest mistake you can make, according to Bon Appetit, is to let the product sit for too long on a surface. This can cause discoloration and scratches. Instead, rinse it off after just one minute.” — Mashed — You Should Never Use Bar Keepers Friend on These Surfaces 

Pro Tip: Set your phone timer for one minute after you’ve applied BKF. 

2. Don’t be a Mixologist

You should not mix most cleaning products, and this includes Bar Keepers Friend. BKF is an acid, and combining it with bleach or ammonia could create toxic fumes. 

Did you know that, unlike BKF, many of the best-selling powdered cleaners contain bleach? Yes, they do. So never mix other cleaners wet or dry with our products. Bar Keepers friend mixed with bleach is especially dangerous because it creates chlorine gas. Use BKF alone or leave it alone!    

Pro Tip: If you’ve recently cleaned an area or item with another cleaner, rinse it off before applying BKF. 

3. Don’t Go Bare Handed 

Always wear gloves when cleaning with BKF products. OK, I’ve broken this rule and gotten away with it, but that doesn’t mean I always will, and neither will you. I’m going to commit right here and now to wearing gloves when I use BKF. 

“Bar Keepers Friend is oxalic acid and can wreak havoc on your skin, especially if you use it for a prolonged period or use it frequently. In addition to making sure you’re not inhaling it, it’s important to protect your hands by wearing gloves.” — Kitchn.com by Shifrah Combiths  

If BKF gets on your hands, wash with soap and water. If skin irritation occurs, get medical attention. Be sure to take a list of BKF ingredients with you.  

4. Just Say No to Non-stick Surfaces 

To avoid tearful goodbyes with your pots and pans, steer clear of using BKF on any nonstick surfaces.

“I’ve used Bar Keepers Friend to clean burned oil residue (see above!), baked-on food, and unsightly brown stains from the inside of my enameled cast iron Dutch oven. You can also use it to shine up stainless steel — cookware… However, Bar Keepers Friend should not be applied to nonstick cookware, the coating for which can be scratched off by the cleaner.” — The Washington Post — One cheap product will change the way you clean in your kitchen 

5. Don’t Rub Your Eyes

Even if you wear gloves, it’s easy to forget what you’re doing and rub your eyes. First, wash your hands, then remove contacts, and then rinse your eyes with water and continue doing so for a few minutes. If eye irritation persists, seek medical advice. If medical advice is needed, bring the BKF container or a list of BKF ingredients with you. 

6. Don’t Use it on Everything

BKF cleans and polishes most hard, nonporous surfaces. However, never use BKF on the following: cast iron, granite, marble, wood, fabric, leather, or painted surfaces. Although many of our fans have used BKF on mirrors, gold, and silver (sterling silver is OK), we advise against it. If you’re tempted to try our products on these non-recommended surfaces, we suggest you test a small spot first.  

7. Don’t Leave it Unrinsed

Never use BKF in any situation where it could be difficult to rinse the area thoroughly. “The key is to use as small an amount of BKF as the project allows and rinse thoroughly. The micro-abrasive particles may temporarily leave a white film if not rinsed completely. The abrasive used in BKF will not scratch glass or porcelain when properly used.” — Bar Keepers Friend FAQ

8. Don’t Make a Dry Run

Bar Keepers Friend was never designed to be used dry. The original powder should always be mixed with water by either adding water to the powder and mixing it in or wetting the surface to clean and then sprinkling it with BKF. BKF, like any powder, can be blown into the air and should never be inhaled.  

Stop, Drop, and Roll

Before you attempt any of the 8 ways NOT to use Bar Keepers Friend, stop! We love our products, and we know our fans do as well, but using BKF in ways it was never intended will not lead to a good outcome or a happy customer. 

Here’s a video that shares what not to do with BKF. This Is the Biggest Mistake You’re Making with Bar Keepers Friend


About the Author

Randy Clark - Headshot

Randy Clark is a speaker, coach, and author. He publishes a weekly blog at Randy Clark Leadership.com. Randy is passionate about social media, leadership development, and flower gardening. He’s a beer geek and on weekends (after COVID-19) he can be found fronting the Rock & Roll band Under the Radar. He’s the proud father of two educators; he has four amazing grandchildren and a wife who dedicates her time to helping others. Randy is the author of the Amazon bestseller The New Manager’s Workbook: A crash course in effective management.

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