by, Britt Greenwood

bar keepers friend


Bar Keepers Friend ® | Exceptional Cleaning Products Since 1882

Here at Blue Jay Cleaning we have a product we cannot live without.  This product is unassuming, humble even.  Our little miracle worker carries a mighty punch!  It was once used by tavern keepers to polish brass dubbing the name: Bar Keepers Friend

In the cleaning industry we lovingly refer to the product as, BKF.   It’s pretty much one the best you can get and is found at almost any place that sells general cleaning products.  

What is Bar Keepers Friend?  The BKF product we use is the powdered cleanser.  It is used to get mineral deposits, tarnish spots, rust, etc. off non-porous surfaces. Some of our favorite ways to use BKF is a glass shower with hard water spots.  The metamorphosis from an opaque, spotted shower door to a crystal clear panel of glass is beyond satisfying. We can get glass so clean that you can literally walk through it!  (There is definitely a story behind that statement).

The product’s active ingredient is oxalic acid, therefore it is acidic on the PHscale. Oxalic acid is naturally found in rhubarb–which is the basis of its discovery.  How cool is it to know the root (pun totally intended) of our cleaning products? 

There are two reasons we really like BKF in opposition to its liquid spray competitors like CLR (Calcium, Lime, Rust).  

First, the powdered version of BKF has zero fumes!  This is such a plus in our industry.  We HAVE to be conscious of safety issues with any product we use.  We do wear gloves and encourage protective eyewear for overhead work with the product. Thankfully, BKF won’t generally cause any problems without gloves except some stinging if you have a cut on your hand.  Its acidic after all.

Side note, we do study all products Safety Data Sheets (SDS).  If it does get in the eyes or on the skin, rinsing with water is all that is needed.  Yay for a safer product!  

The second reason Blue Jay Cleaning loves  the powdered BKF is the price.  Even with price increases, one cylinder of  BKF is around $2.00. A product like CLR is generally double the price of our beloved Bar Keepers Friend and doesn’t last as long.  When the liquid is sprayed, it will generally drip and not all stay on the surface.  Thus, much of the product is wasted. With BKF, we use a semi-abrasive, blue sponge. Then, we pour the powder on the sponge and add a bit of water.  It transforms into a paste and is rubbed directly onto the desired surface. Since it is a paste, very little product is wasted.  

If anyone is using BKF, there is a little trick to it.  The oxalic acid needs TIME to work.  If we are getting calcium off the base of a faucet, we will make our paste and scrub into the desired area.  We will then go clean another area while the acid does its thing.  We always try to wait about 5 minutes.  The next step is to use our blue sponge that has a safe, non-scratch scrub pad to apply friction and pressure to the area. Then, with water and a cloth, we wipe the BKF off.  Once the paste is wiped away, a calcium free faucet is left. Some areas need a little more work than others but the product always makes improvement.  

If you’re reading this and have a surface that has been neglected for a long period of time, mineral deposits can cause permanent damage by etching the surface.  It really is a bummer any time we see glass, hardware, etc. that we know will never be restored to its glory days.  If “like new” is what you want, sometimes the quickest way to your desired outcome is just replacing the surface.  I moved into a home that was rented for many years. Let’s just say there is a bathroom remodel in my future!

Overall, we hope you fall in love with Bar Keepers Friend as much as we have.