Home & Leisure

Everyday Cheapskate: My Secret Housecleaning Weapon

Mary Hunt on

Keeping a pristine home doesn't have to be a daunting or expensive task. I want to let you in on my secret weapon sitting front and center in my cleaning cupboard. It's Bar Keepers Friend (BKF) and I wouldn't want to clean without it.

BKF is a simple, versatile cleaning product that has been trusted by homeowners for over a century. Developed in 1882 by a chemist in Indianapolis, this cleaning powder was initially formulated to clean and polish brass and copper surfaces in bars and taverns, hence its name. It sits on the shelves of our favorite supermarkets and discount department stores. And it's super cheap!

The key ingredient in BKF is oxalic acid, a powerful compound that effectively breaks down stubborn stains, rust, and mineral deposits. This acid is what gives BKF its remarkable cleaning capabilities, allowing it to tackle a wide range of surfaces and stains with ease.

Now here's the fun part: Oxalic acid occurs naturally in many of the foods we consume, such as spinach, rhubarb and beets. And in the same way you wouldn't eat a bushel of rhubarb in one sitting, ingesting BKF would not be a good idea either. Either could lead to symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

That said, one of the most appealing aspects of BKF is its relatively nontoxic nature. While oxalic acid is a potent cleaner, it is generally considered safe for household use when used as directed. However, it's essential to follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully and avoid prolonged contact with the skin or ingestion of the product.

As with any cleaning product, it's wise to keep BKF out of reach of children and pets and to use it in well-ventilated areas to minimize exposure to fumes.


BKF is simple and easy to use. Simply wet the surface you wish to clean, sprinkle the powder over the area, and gently scrub with a sponge or cloth. For tougher stains, you may need to let the product sit for a few minutes before rinsing it away.

Whether you're tackling a grimy stovetop, a stained porcelain sink or tarnished stainless steel appliances, BKF makes quick work of even the most stubborn messes. Its fine powder consistency allows for precise application and targeted cleaning, making it suitable for a variety of surfaces and materials.

BKF is incredibly versatile and can be used to clean a wide range of surfaces and materials throughout your home. From kitchen appliances and cookware to bathroom fixtures and outdoor furniture, there's almost nothing BKF can't tackle.

Here are just a few of the many surfaces and materials BKF can clean effectively: stainless steel, porcelain, ceramic, glass, copper, brass, chrome, tile, grout, ceramic, glass, copper, brass, chrome, tile, grout and fiberglass.


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