Thursday, April 14, 2011

Barkeeper's Friend for Cleaning Stainless Steel Cookware

I don't normally do this sort of post on my blog, but I figured people might find it useful, so...

Barkeeper's Friend is an abrasive cleaning powder, similar to Comet, that is renowned for its ability to clean stainless steel pots and pans. I've always heard that it can clean stains you would think were there forever, so I figured I'd give it a shot with my well-worn tea kettle:
As you can see, there are some pretty nasty black stains flecked around the bottom of the kettle, quite a bit of brown crud caked on underneath that, and an overall cloudiness to the finish everywhere else.

By reading the directions on the side of the Barkeeper's Friend label, you can see that it recommends a couple of different ways to use the product:

1. wet the item to be cleaned so the powder will stick to it better, sprinkle on some Barkeeper's Friend, then scrub vigorously with a damp rag

2. mix Barkeeper's Friend with water to make a paste and then spread that onto the surface of the item to be cleaned and let it sit for a minute or so, then scrub vigorously with a damp rag.

I tried both methods.

The first method is faster, obviously, but I found its performance underwhelming. While cloudiness was greatly reduced after scrubbing, much of the brown crud remained and the black stains were completely unaffected. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to take a picture after this treatment. You'll have to just take my word for it.

The second method is kind of a hassle, but it's worth the extra time and effort. In addition to clearing up the cloudiness, this method also removed the vast majority of the brown crud and helped somewhat with the black stains, though a noticeable amount of black staining still remains after scrubbing.

Here's how it looked after cleaning:
Substantially improved, but far from perfect.

I also scrubbed the scorched bottom surface of the kettle using both methods and left a section cleaned only with regular soapy water as a control:
Again, method 1 certainly helped, but method 2 was much more effective. However, even method 2 wasn't able to completely clean up everything.

If you have any questions, drop me a comment.

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