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bar keeper's friend / ajax / comet

  • j

looking to replace the consistently gunked up soft scrub w/ a powder that will do:

-stainless steels
-enameled stovetop
-horrific corian sink that i swear cottage cheese could stain
-fiberglass tub.

is there one powder to rule them all? does one have benefits over others?

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  1. Hi, j8715:

    They'll all clean what you listed, but the fiberglass tub will ultimately lose its gloss with them. BKF will do it fastest.

    People like BKF because it's fast. It's fast because of: (a) its grit size (coarsest of all the listed powders); and (b) its inclusion of oxalic acid. Comet and Ajax use chlorine instead and have smaller grit size.

    Personally, I like Bon Ami--smallest grit size of all 4, and no chlorine or acid. Instead, BA uses a surfactant (soap) along with the grit. Of the 4, it's the only one I'd use on a fiberglass tub.


    2 Replies
    1. re: kaleokahu

      Bon Ami is about the only cleanser I use and have Comet and BKF if BA can't do it, which is seldom.


      1. re: kaleokahu

        I agree with Kaleo: try Bon Ami. It's great stuff.

      2. horrific corian sink that i swear cottage cheese could stain

        I can relate. We have a corian sink in the bathroom and I hate it with a passion. How does white toothpaste stain a white sink? Everything (which is basically limited to water, toothpaste and handsoap) clings to that bowl. Is this a common problem with Corian material?

        For our fiberglass tubs/showers, I use either baking soda or borax made into a paste with a littel dish detergent on a non-scratch scrubby pad. I would describe our water as medium hard and it works well.

        I am going to pick up Bon Ami next time I see it and give that a try.

        1. I love Comet! I don't have any experience with the other scouring agents you mentioned but Comet would work great with the surfaces you mentioned. I use it on my fiberglass shower pan w/o any adverse issues. Although it is not glossy like a tub.

          1. Try them all. Just don't overscrub - they're all abrasive. As to your Corian staining problem, try using CLR or Lime-Away as hardwater buildup can be at the root of many stains.

            Sometimes toothpaste is pretty good a removing stains too. It's gentle but effective for lots of things. I use toothpaste with an electric brush when I need to remove a small stain. I've never tried it with a whole tub or basin though.

            1. BKF for All-Clad pans, works great. Haven't tried it on stove top, don't have corian, no exp with fiberglass tubs.

              1. I had to ditch BKF because it isn't resealable and here in Tampa it just got all caked up and useless to me. Comet recently introduced a stainless cleaner that I've tried with decent results, but not as great as BKF. I could smell the difference using BKF on my stainless pots/pans. A nice little rotten-egg/sulfur smell would tell me it was doing it's oxalic acid thing.

                I don't know why this is so, because I know oxalic acid doesn't contain sulfur, but it still smells like it to me.

                1 Reply
                1. re: DuffyH

                  blah. good to know.

                  i actually kind of like a bit of that chlorine / pool water smell. smells clean. rotten eggs not so much.

                2. I don't know where people get the idea that BKF is coarse. BKF is based on oxalic acid and relies on chemistry more than abrasion for cleaning. Bon Ami contains limestone and feldspar which clean by abrasion.

                  I use BKF on the stainless steel interior of my saucepan, and Bon Ami on the aluminum exterior, precisely because the BA has the (mild) abrasive properties needed.

                  There is no need for Ajax or Comet. BA and BKF suffice.

                  For the fiberglass tub, get a cleaner designed specifically for that.

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: GH1618

                    BKF was always my go-to discoloration remover. Nothing works better for me. I haven't tested the new Comet stainless cleaner on those 'stains' yet, but I'm sure I will eventually.

                    1. re: GH1618

                      Hi GH: "I don't know where people get the idea that BKF is coarse."

                      They get it by calling the manufacturer, Servaas Laboratories, as I did. Of course [rimshot] "coarse" is in the seive of the beholder, but the manufacturer's rep admitted their grit size is the largest of Comet, Ajax and BA.

                      Or you can get it from the experience of the recent OP on another thread, who BKF'd his new Mauviel copper pot and scratched it all up. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/892469 I *have* used it for stripping a heavily tarnished copper surface, but what you end up with looks brushed, not polished. THEN you have to polish it if you want a bright finish.

                      Finally, buried in the finest font on the BKF can, we have the warning: "May etch or dull delicate surfaces... Rub extra gently on ...anodized aluminum and brushed metal surfaces. Do not use on:...surfaces that are...mirrored."

                      Now then, because it has a goodly amount of acid, you can *minimize* scratching by not scrubbing with it. But I submit that a normal person who buys scouring powder believes scouring with it is what they should do (quite a shock, I know), not sprinkle it on and just rinse 2 minutes later. If BKF worked only through the effect of its oxalic acid, then the abrasives in the powder would be superfluous.


                      1. re: kaleokahu

                        "Etch or dull" refers to the effect of acid, not abrasion. I routinely clean my SS with it because it does not require scouring — grime wipes off easily with a sponge. I can't detect any grittiness with my fingers, so that's fine enough for me.

                        Those who have copper may have special requirements. I have no opinion on cleaning copper.

                        1. re: kaleokahu

                          Hmmm...troubling. Is BKF what I scratched the outside of my All-Clad with? I thought it was the Dobie pad. I mean, All-Clad recommends the ****.

                          Since I bought my first can of BKF, now almost empty, I haven't used Bon Ami at all, for anything. I find that when I use it, unless I use surgical gloves, it bothers my eye when I touch a Bon-Amied finger to it. I don't care for the smell (I also sense sulfur) of BKF, but it doesn't bother my eye.

                          I don't use any cleansers with chlorine.

                          1. re: kaleokahu

                            There is nothing on my can of BKF about mirrored surfaces, by the way. I looked very carefully with a magnefier. I don't know why anyone would want a mirror surfa e on a pot, anyway. You would have to polish with the finest rouge to get a mirror finish on a metal surface. I cook with my pots. I have an actual mirror in the bathroom for shaving.

                            1. re: GH1618

                              Yeah, I recuperated quickly from the scratching incident. It is cookware, after all.

                              1. re: GH1618

                                Hi Again, GH: " I don't know why anyone would want a mirror surfa e on a pot, anyway."

                                Well, some of us like the mirror finish--even those of us who cook--LOL. And for many who don't care, they're not always given a choice. For example, the W-S Thermoclad I'm testing comes with a miror polish on both the handle and the pan wall exterior. Why would anyone knowingly buy a scouring powder that shouldn't be used on such surfaces?

                                You should try a convex pan as a mirror--it makes me look thinner than my vanity mirror.

                                Wahine picked up this new BKF can at W-S last week, so I think I quoted from the newest label warning.


                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                  A pot should ultimately look used unless you want a poseur fake kitchen.

                                  1. re: law_doc89

                                    Hi, law-doc:

                                    Oh, there's not any doubt that my pans are used and look it. Some are 125 years old, show their age, and--if they're cared for--will last another century or two. You can't polish out things like beaten rims or out-of-rounds. I marvel at the history of who slammed the ecumoire in what rage before the pan made its way to me.

                                    But let's not confuse having a proper polish 1-2x a year with a "poseur fake kitchen". Even the state kitchens of France polish their copper, and regularly.

                                    I'm amused by fake display kitchens, and at least when it comes to copper, I can ID them from a good distance. But I'm equally bemused by the idea that grody, uncared-for pans are somehow a badge of honor or prove the owner's cooking bona fides. Neither are good measures of anything but an aesthetic IMO.


                              2. re: kaleokahu

                                BKF will scratch, Bon AMi unlikely to.