Cleaning Secret Weapon

*UPDATED 1-30-14: Bar Keepers Friend chose Sezen Your Life as their featured blog on 1-29-14!  Post by Bar Keepers Friend

I’m so happy right now, my dishwasher is sparkling clean.  Does anyone else get utter joy and complete satisfaction from a task like this?  I love the feeling of accomplishment, especially when it involves restoring something I had almost written off as a lost cause.

Currently we rent a lovely townhouse; nothing extravagant, but it works for us.  Everything is in working order, but the appliances are original and are starting to show their age a bit.  In what seemed like overnight (really a few weeks), the inside of our dishwasher went from normal to just plain gross.

I am almost embarrassed to share some of these photos, but it’s for the greater good.  I’m not a neat freak, however I do try to keep our place picked up and presentable. I find myself getting uncomfortable when things are in disarray, frankly it stresses me out.

So without further ado, here is what greeted me when I opened the dishwasher (cue scary music for full effect).

Original inside dishwasher

Original door of dishwasher

Original bottom inside dishwasher

Yuck!  First I tried using vinegar as mentioned in several places throughout the internet.  Place 1 cup of distilled white vinegar on the top rack and run a complete cycle on the hottest setting.

1C vinegar

Vinegar top rack

Unfortunately, this didn’t work well for our style of dishwasher.  The main problem I was trying to combat was the dark stains and buildup from the iron in our water.  The vinegar seemed to break up a little bit of the grime, but nothing very visible.  Generally the 2nd step is to sprinkle 1 cup of baking soda around the bottom to freshen it and run another cycle.  Since it still looked so nasty (and I forgot I was out of baking soda) I decided to go straight for the big guns.

Inside of door after vinegar

Inside of door after vinegar

I broke out the tried and true Bar Keepers Friend.Bar Keepers Friend

I feel like this is a cleaner that has fallen between the cracks throughout the years.  New products hit the market with lots of hype and advertising, and sometimes we move away from what worked originally.  My parents and grandparents used BKF.  It’s actually been around since 1882, hard to argue with a track record like that.

It has proven itself for me in numerous applications, so I gave it a go.  I sprinkled some of the powder on the inside of the door, dipped a sponge in water and began to literally just wipe away the dark buildup.  I couldn’t believe it didn’t require any scrubbing.

Wiping with BKF

Door all wiped with BKF

I was quickly able to wipe down the entire door, and was very pleased with the results.  Getting into the nooks and crannies was a pain though, and the grime was everywhere.  As simple as it was, cleaning every corner, crack, and spindle was going to take me forever, and my back would probably never be the same.

Even though it wasn’t listed as an application on the can, I decided to try running the dishwasher through a cycle with Bar Keepers Friend.  I filled the detergent dispenser and ran an empty load on the hottest setting.

Now you can cue the Hallelujah chorus. Amazing! It literally looked like new.

Inside after BKF

After BKF

Along one side there was still a bit of a rust mark.  I got out the powder again, sprinkled some on a damp sponge and it wiped right off.

Spot still there

Spot wiped clean

No scrubbing, no need to be down on my hands and knees, just a normal cycle with BKF in the detergent dispenser to totally save my dishwasher and my sanity.  I ran another cycle with nothing in the dishwasher afterwards to ensure any residual powder would be rinsed away.  The pictures speak for themselves.

Original bottom inside dishwasher

Inside after BKF
Original door of dishwasherDoor after BKF

This alone is reason enough for me to keep a Bar Keepers Friend on hand; but wait, there’s more! (and yes, I just said that out loud in my best TV voice)

The reason I gave BKF a chance in the first place was because I’ve had phenomenal results using it in the past for many different chores.  These pictures aren’t as dramatic as the dishwasher, but here are everyday results I get when using it in my porcelain sink and to clean my cooktop.

Before and After BKF

If those photos don’t impress you though, these might.  My copper bottom pans get dirty and the copper looks horrible after just one use.  So every time I clean them, I use Bar Keepers Friend, and they stay looking like new.  BKF also helps remove the baked-on food without tons of soaking and scrubbing.  As a real testament, these are actually pots and pans my parents received as a wedding gift over 35 years ago and have passed on to me.  I’ve bought and received new sets since then, but find myself going back to these.

Original inside of panOriginal bottom of panAs in other applications, I sprinkle a little powder on the surface and then take a damp sponge or cloth to clean.  It works best when you form a paste.

Cleaning panHalf and half bottom of pan

You can see how instantly BKF restores the shine and removes oxidation and rust.  It still amazes me every time.

From this…

Original pans

To this!

Finished pans

You can purchase Bar Keepers Friend in most stores for under $5; it’s located near the kitchen cleaning supplies. Here’s a link for an additional $0.50 off coupon.  If you’re having a hard time finding it locally, you can also order it through Amazon.  BKF can be abrasive, so double check the Surface Guide on their site to see if it’s a good match for your task at hand.  They do have a few different types I’ll definitely be looking into such as their “MORE” Trigger Spray + Foam Cleaner. The site also suggests many other uses: tile and grout; stainless steel; faucets; toilets; tubs; showers; bicycles; tools; automobiles; and even golf clubs.

As with other reviews, I am not affiliated with Bar Keepers Friend or even getting any reimbursement for this post.  It’s just my personal opinion and the results I’ve experienced.  It’s one of those things that I feel is too good to keep to myself.

I hope this has been useful and you enjoy using the product as much as I do.  Feel free to add any comments below and happy cleaning!

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  1. I’ve never even heard of this product before but it looks like it might become a staple around my house (whenever we actually get one :)) Thanks for sharing!

    1. We always keep a can with the cleaning supplies. I’m loving all of the new uses we keep finding, and I’ve got to get busy trying it out in the tub and shower. It actually makes me a little excited to clean…a little, but let’s not start talking crazy 🙂

  2. Wow! What an impressive difference!! I love using Bar Keepers Friend in the shower/tub.

    1. I was elated and can’t wait to see what it does for our bathroom!

  3. I am a loyal BKF! I recently moved and have a dishwasher that is leaving a nasty white film on my glassware. Any chance running a empty cycle with BKF will help with this problem?

    1. Hi Deanna, that’s a great question. I have not personally dealt with this specific issue, but I don’t see why running a cycle with BKF wouldn’t be worth a try. If nothing else you’ll get a sparkling clean dishwasher! You’ll have to let us know if it clears up the problem.

  4. Hi Deanna, you might try running your dishwasher with a cup of white vinegar when you wash the glassware. Hope it helps.

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