Stainless steel cookware gets a real work out in my kitchen. As proof, check out the All-Clad skillet pictured above. The bottom is badly scorched. The sides are marred with years of baked-on grease. Any hope for this ugly duckling? Watch me restore the skillet to its former shiny-and-new glory:
When baking soda, vinegar, and boiling water all failed to make the grease stains budge, I decided to give Bar Keepers Friend a try. Bar Keepers Friend is an old-fashioned cleanser, sold in most American supermarkets for about $3.00. Its active ingredient is oxalic acid — the same compound found in rhubarb leaves. Oxalic acid works at the molecular level to break the bonds of stains.
How I Removed Baked-On Grease from a Stainless Steel Skillet
First, I turned the pan upside down in my kitchen sink, and sprayed it with plain water.
Then I sprinkled the cleanser over the bottom and sides of the skillet…
And gave it a gentle rub with a Scotch Brite Non-Scratch sponge.
Since the powdered cleanser didn’t cover the sides of skillet terribly well, I then mixed up a not-too-thick solution of Bar Keepers Friend and water, and poured it over the pan, letting the slurry run over the sides. I left the slurry to soak for 5 minutes.
Then I rubbed the bottom and sides of the pan with the Scotch Brite sponge. Already the scorch marks and grease were starting to loosen up. I let the pan rest again for 5 minutes, still covered in the sudsy solution.
Another gentle scrubbing, et voila! — the bottoms and sides of the pan looked as clean as the day the skillet was born!
Then I flipped the pan over, and sponged the slurry over the badly-stained rivets. These, too, rubbed clean after a 5-minute soak.
Here is the skillet, all shiny and dry. So shiny, in fact, that it reflects a bimbo in a green sweatshirt taking a picture.
The inside of the skillet looks as good as the outside. Needless to say, Bar Keepers Friend is now MY friend. Today I ran out and purchased 2 more cans of the stuff. You know, just in case there’s a run on the product after people read this post. For which I am not being paid.
Oh. I tried the same cleanser on horribly burnt-on grease beneath the burners on my stainless cook top. I filmed the trial, and published the results on my YouTube channel. Click here to watch.
In closing, let me say that if you have hopeless-looking stainless steel cookware in your batterie de cuisine, you just might find, as I did, that Bar Keepers Friend will work a miracle for you. It’s worth a try! xKevin
Related post: My Kitchen Cleaning Routine
Jeanette Liberty-Duns says
I so enjoy your column. We have recently moved to southern Ontario to a 7b zone. I want to try winter sowing. Do you have a suggestion as to when I should start planting? Thanks for your great column.
Peri Pantazes says
Keven, what can I use on my glass top stove?
Can’t wait to try your stainless steel pan cleaning tip. Do you have suggestions for cleaning copper pans besides lemon and salt? Tis the season it seems. Thank you! Shelly
Karen Mary says
Terrific! I’ve been afraid to use Bar Keepers because I thought it might scratch the stainless, but yours looks great. On my shopping list! Thanks Kevin!
Bar keepers friend actually makes a stainless steel cleaner( powdered just like regular) that I have used for years and had great success. Happy cleaning!
Kevin Lee Jacobs says
Hi Jeanette Liberty-Duns – You can winter-sow at the same time that I do: in January and February. More details here: What to Winter Sow and When.
Hi Karen – No scratches from BKF. Just be sure to rub with a non-scratch pad!
This is a great tip for people who pick up good pans at garage sales or thrift shops!
Jon Beattie says
Wow , what a great post. We have been trying to clean our “Things” at work in the catering kitchen and the pans looked like yours.
I cant wait to try this on the Monday!
Happy Sunday to you and the mister
Diane Buxton says
Hi Kevin, I think those things are called rivets. As in Rosie the riveter.
I ‘discovered’ Bar Keeper’s friend decades ago and it has never let me down either. It is great for cleaning anything stainless steel using a non-scratch pad. Cleans stainless steel sinks beautifully, BBQ grills, the list goes on..
Another use that may not be widely known, it removes the protective seal on porcelain tiles quickly. A thin paste does the job here. Some porcelain tiles have a waxy protective seal on them used in shipping. After installation of the porcelain tile, there can also be a haze left by the grout. Scrubbing alone does not remove it. Bar Keeper’s Friends removes the seal and haze quickly and without the harsh chemicals and dangerous VOCs of commercial grout removal products.
If you have a glass top stove or cooktop, Bon Ami made as a thin paste works beautifully and will not scratch. It is a powdered cleanser and sold alongside Bar Keepers Friend. Let the paste sit on the burned-on, scorched areas for about 5 minutes. Keep it wet. Then gently scrub with a sponge and the glass top will look like new. I have a 20 year old white glass top stove. White glass does not hide anything yet my stove top looks as pristine as the day I bought it.
Kevin, Bar Keeper’s Friend also is terrific at removing utensil marks from stoneware such as Pfaltzgraff. I use it on my ceramic-coated cast iron dutch oven, and it makes it look new.
Love your posts!
john sherwood says
They are rivets.
Kevin Lee Jacobs says
Hi Martey – Great idea!
Hi Jon – Wishing you all the best with your catering-kitchen pans!
Hi Diane Buxton and John Sherwood – Rivets, yes. Thank you!
Hi Janis – Wow — excellent tips. Thanks for answering Peri’s question in comment #2, regarding glass cook tops. Will take your advice and give BKF a try on the utensil marks on my Le Creuset dutch ovens.
I’ll give this a try bc I normally use Easy Off oven cleaner.
Thanx Janis for the Bon Ami tip on glass tops as my new range is a ceramic/glass top.
Deonna Rae Bishopp says
Kevin how do you keep food from sticking to the bottom of your Allclad?
Cleans up great!
Bob Lesko says
Amazing transformation! Your (or any) mom would be proud. But there’s something to be said for the patina of use, as opposed to the pristine perfection of cooking shows.
Meanwhile, I keep peaking into the milk jugs on our back deck….but it’s only February.
DOREEN ALEXANDER says
Has anyone tried on aluminum cookie sheets?
I’ve been using BKF on my glass/ceramic cooktop with great results, and no scratching. I also love it for my pots and pans (steel, aluminum, and ceramic coated) and for cleaning anything else made of those materials.
Although I can buy the large size for a very low price, the lack of a cap has allowed moisture to penetrate eventually and create hard clumps. I bought some plastic can covers (the kind you use for pet food), and that solved the problem.
Kevin Lee Jacobs says
Hi Deonna – All Clad is high quality 18/10 steel, and considered non-stick for everything except eggs. I always add some kind of fat (oil or butter), and then heat the pan before adding food.
Hi Bob – A patina on cast-iron cookware is a glorious thing!
Hi Doreen – See Maraya’s comment (#18).
Hi Maraya – Plastic pet food can cover to keep BKF dry? B-R-I-L-L-I-A-N-T.
Maraya—- brilliant idea with pet can covers!!! Thank you !!
BarKeepers Friend —- is a must in any kitchen/ bathroom or cleaning bin ; so many redeeming qualities !!!!
Love your sharing Kevin Lee!!
Wow, what a transformation! My husband burned one of my all clad pots making some camping food. And, yes, we’re still married, though it was touch and go. 😉 BKF didn’t quite cut it for that but otherwise, it does! This just reminded me of that.
Tressa Rhodes says
I’ve been using BKF since it was recommended for some pots and pans I bought. I’m wondering what products you use to clean wood kitchen cabinets.
Lori Pross says
Hi, I used Bar Keepers Friend, and it works like you say, BUT – it IS an abrasive! I found something WAY better – Universal Stone. I get it here in BC at 1 place ONLY, but it is distributed by Jogi’s Import and Design, Inc from Toronto, Ont. Stuff is Environmentally friendly. Safe for children. Biodegradable. Economical to use. 650 g costs around $30 (includes special sponge which NEVER wears out, just discolours a bit!) – but lasts FOREVER!
Cleans ABSOLUTELY everything!!! Ya gotta try it – – – and if you can’t find it – – get some shipped to you – worth the cost.
Woo-hoo, Kevin, you got terrific results! Bar Keeper’s Friend is also sold in a “soft cleanser”, 26 oz. bottle. I find this even easier to use, especially if there’s a spot on the quartz countertop.
For some reason, many supermarkets put the BKF in the bottle in a different area than the powder. Beats me why.
Bed, Bath Beyond also sells both powder & “soft cleanser “ BKF.
For the inside of aluminum pots add cream of tartar to the pot filled with water and boil for a while.
I have been meaning to Google how to clean gas soot from pans n hooray, Kevin u provided the answer. I know this will work for me.
Todd G. says
Thanks for mentioning this Kevin. I’ve been cleaning my All-Clad cookware with Barkeeper’s Friend or Bon Ami for years. After a bit of the stuff and some elbow grease, my pans always sparkle. Those cleansers are also good for the enameled interior of cast iron cookware such as Le Creuset. I also clean my stainless steel sink with it as well.
Diana Orrock says
What a nice and easy solution to cleaning up those stainless steel pans! I love my pans because they’re so versatile, from stove top to oven. Thanks for the tip!
Elizabeth Loeblich says
Thanks for this wonderful advice! Love your newsletters!
For shelly, bar keeper’s friend is great for copper. Wet the area, sprinkle bar keeper’s friend on and let it sit for a bit, then, scrub with a scrubber.
You and your blog are really quite wonderful. I look forward to your blog each Sunday.
I like Kleen King stainless steel & copper cleaner for pots and pans
–it works great. I love that it doesn’t smell bad nor hurt my hands and it works quickly. I haven’t tried bar keepers.
I’ve been using Barkeeper’s Friend for many years. To degunk pans, be sure to soak them in very, very hot water first; this just softens everything up quite a bit. This product also does a great job at removing the little knife scratches that accumulate on your dinner plates or bowls. Using just a wet sponge, they’ll come right off.
Paula Hunter says
I love BKF for my stainless Alclad, but what can I do with my copper Alclad? I use copper polish, but it does not remove the cooked on grease. Help!
I have been using in the Shaklee Get Clean line, called Scour Off that has a wonderful natural smell. All of the Get Clean products are biodegradable and non-toxic for our environment. I have been using these products for over 40 years and wouldn’t use anything else because of how well they wok and how safe they are for the earth. a little side note…. Oprah LOVES the Get Clean products also. I would be more than happy to send you some samples. We can make a change in the environment by using products that care for our planet.
Kevin Lee Jacobs says
Hi Shery – I am SO with you on earth-friendly cleaning products. My environment-minded parents were Shaklee distributors when I was a teenager. That was a few years ago.
I clean my stainless steel pans with either Cameo Stainless Steel Cleanser or Barkeeper’s Friend after every use. Takes seconds to do and my 45 year old pans look like brand new. The other advantage is that there is never any chance for build up to happen!
I found a better solution. Easier, cheaper. Plastic bag, 1 cup ammonia, 24 hours. Easy. No scrubbing.
Louise Kilbreth says
I have a set of al-clad cookware that is 17 years old and other stainless steel pieces. I have always used bar keepers friend and my cookware still looks new.
I use BKF to clean my stainless steel sink when the gunk has dulled it down. Also, it is great for removing stains from the light interior of my enamel dutch ovens when the tomato sauces have left their mark. Always use a non scratch pad though. As mentioned above, it does a great job of removing the grey marks on stoneware left by cutlery. I love this stuff!
I use oxalic acid for a lot of cleaning especially for those pesky rust stains around the toilet. Anyone using this should really wear gloves. It is quite toxic and corosive..
Marilyn Carpenter says
Hi, can you buy Bar keepers friend in Australia? I haven’t seen Bon Am I in store for many years!
Thanks Kevin. I haven’t tried this, but after trying multiple other things to get the soap scum off a glass shower door, I found an article that said to use Barkeepers Friend Multipurpose Stovetop Cleaner, and it works – now I wouldn’t use anything else
Bar Keepers Friend is made in my home state Indiana. I always have it in my kitchen (both types) to support my state. I hang my pans so I’m going to work on them. Thanks for the instructions!
Thank you for the tip about and lesson for using Bar Keeper’s Friend. We went over to our Home Depot and picked up a can to give it a try. We’ve been married for over 50 years and have our original stainless steel pots and pans. Some were badly stained from veggies on the inside. Some had burned on stains, inside and out, that we just couldn’t budge. Well, thanks to you, they now look sparkling new! Can’t tell you how often your home and garden hints have come to the rescue and…my African Violets, part of my indoor jungle, are thriving because of you.
DJ Todd says
Have cleaned my Revere Ware copper bottom skillets, stainless steel pots and pans, and just about everything else that needed a good scrub with Barkeeper’s Friend. And it’s non toxic so good for the environment. Great advice!
I had a can in my hand this afternoon and put it back on the shelf! Such a lame move! Going back for it tomorrow!
Janet G. Metzger says
So helpful. Especially about the composition of Bar Keepers Friend. Will try this week on a kettle that was not completely cleaned by vinegar, baking soda, and water!
Do you have any tips in restoring the enamel inside my four beautiful Le Creuset Dutch ovens? I saw online how to clean them but the enamel has worn away and food sticks to the bottom. I’m ready to toss them and buy new ones. Thanks for all your great tips and recipes.
Patti King says
Tressa, #22, I have used Murphy’s Oil Soap for over 40 years on anything wood. I clean cupboards, panelling, walls, etc. Leaves a nice, fresh and clean scent. If you can still find the gel product, you can fill in the ‘hole’ you create from scooping it out, with a little more water: it makes its own oil soap refill! Recently, I have only found the liquid, but still love the product. Follow the directions on the container. You’ll be happy with how it works!
John Mullins says
Using a pot for a long time leaves a thick layer of dirt on the bottom and sides which looks very unsightly. Many thanks to the author for sharing such a useful tip.