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6 Safer Alternatives to Bar Keepers Friend

Bar Keepers Friend is a highly effective all-purpose cleaner.

But it contains oxalic acid, a toxic and corrosive ingredient that can be harmful if swallowed, inhaled, or gets in your eyes.

In fact, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit consumer safety organization, gives the product an F for health and environmental concerns.

So, what’s the best alternative to Bar Keepers Friend? What products contain safer ingredients yet provide similar cleaning power?

In this article, I share the best Bar Keepers Friend alternatives. You’ll learn how these alternatives compare to Bar Keepers Friend and the pros and cons of each. 


Use the links below to navigate the article:


Bar Keepers Friend Alternative 1: Bon Ami

Bon Ami debuted in 1886. Its mild-abrasive formula is ideal for use on stainless steel but can also clean copper, cooktops, and many other objects around the house.

Bon Ami powder cleanser bottle

Bon Ami is an excellent alternative to Bar Keepers Friend because it’s a versatile all-purpose cleaner without toxic ingredients.

Let’s explore the pros and cons of using Bon Ami vs. Bar Keepers Friend.

Pros of Bon Ami

Bon Ami is a simple formula containing hypoallergenic and biodegradable ingredients. Therefore, it’s a better choice for your body and the environment.

Bon Ami is free of dye, perfume, and chlorine bleach. There aren’t any harsh abrasives in the formula. Baking soda is part of the fine grit element to help absorb odors.

Feldspar is the other mild abrasive. It’s an inexpensive byproduct of quartz mining.

Bon Ami costs slightly less than Bar Keepers Friend. You can get a 14-ounce size of the powder cleanser for less than the 12-ounce size of Bar Keepers Friend.

Cons of Bon Ami

Bon Ami is not as powerful as Bar Keepers Friend and not the best choice for a heavy-duty cleaning job. Since it contains mild abrasives, you’ll need elbow grease to clean tough messes.

The product contains tallow. It’s made from rendered cattle fat and might be a concern if you live a vegan lifestyle or prefer not to use animal products.

Bon Ami is only available in powder form, but Bar Keepers Friend is available in powder, soft cleanser, spray, and other formulations.

I put Bon Ami and Bar Keepers Friend head-to-head to test cleaning the gunk off of the bottom of a stainless steel pan. Which product came out on top? Surprisingly they delivered identical results, but I had to scrub that pan twice as long using Bon Ami.

Overall, Bon Ami can do everything Bar Keepers Friend can, but its formula is non-toxic and much safer.

Bar Keepers Friend Alternative 2: Arm & Hammer Baking Soda

Arm & Hammer baking soda debuted over 170 years ago. It’s a trusted household name known for its many uses.

Arm and Hammer Baking Soda

It’s an excellent alternative to Bar Keepers Friend because it doesn’t contain toxic ingredients and performs well on hard-to-clean stainless steel cookware.

Of course, there are pros and cons of using Arm & Hammer baking soda instead of Bar Keepers Friend. Let’s start with the upsides.

Pros of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda

Like Bar Keepers Friend, baking soda is a multi-purpose cleaning product. But, it can also do things that Bar Keepers Friend cannot. For example, you can use it to deodorize, cook, bake, whiten teeth, soothe skin irritation, and boost laundry detergent’s effectiveness.

Arm & Hammer baking soda is a powder, just like Bar Keepers Friend. Unlike Bar Keepers Friend, the one-ingredient (sodium bicarbonate) formula is mildly abrasive, suitable for gently scrubbing away dirt, grime, and caked-on grease.

You likely already have it in your home, but if you don’t, it costs a fraction of Bar Keepers Friend and all other alternatives in this article.

Finally, it’s a safe choice. The EWF gives Arm & Hammer baking soda an A for safety.

Cons of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda

Like Bon Ami, baking soda is not as powerful as Bar Keepers Friend. The formula is mild and requires extra scrubbing to make it work.

However, unlike Bon Ami, you can mix it with vinegar to give it an extra boost of cleaning power.

Bar Keepers Friend Alternative 3: Method Stainless Steel Cleaner + Polish

Method offers less toxic and more eco-friendly cleaning products for your household. The Method Stainless Steel Cleaner and Polish is an effective option for cleaning stainless steel cookware, sinks, and refrigerators.

Method Stainless Steel Cleaner + Polish, Apple Orchard, 14 Ounces (2 Pack)

It’s a viable alternative to Bar Keepers Friend because it’s made of plant-based ingredients and mild chemicals. However, it is not as powerful on tough food stains.

Let’s check out the pros and cons.

Pros of Method Stainless Steel Cleaner and Polish

If you’re looking for a less harsh cleaning formula that can also polish your stainless steel, Method has you covered. It’s plant-based and free of strong chemicals.

Unlike Bar Keepers Friend, the formula is biodegradable, making it better for the planet.

This formula comes in an easy-to-use spray, leaving behind a streak-free finish. Bar Keepers Friend does not wipe away easily. You’ll have to rinse Bar Keepers Friend until all residue is removed.

Method Stainless Steel Cleaner and Polish features a pleasant smell. The fragrance is a mix of apple, peach, vanilla, and orchid scents. Bar Keepers Friend has a mild odor that’s unpleasant compared to Method.

Cons of Method Stainless Steel Cleaner and Polish

This product doesn’t offer the same versatility as Bar Keepers Friend. It’s suitable for cleaning stainless steel, whereas Bar Keepers Friend can clean everything from stainless steel to kitchen tile.

Unlike Bar Keepers Friend, which comes in a range of formulations (powder, cream, spray), Method Stainless Steel Cleaner and Polish is only available in a spray.

Method’s formula also lacks an abrasive element like Bar Keepers Friend, so it is better for surface grime and smudges than baked-on gunk or burnt grime.

It’s more expensive than Bar Keepers Friend. So, it’s not the best alternative if you’re looking to save money.

Overall, it’s a great alternative if you’re looking specifically to clean lightly soiled stainless steel without adding strong chemicals to your cleaning routine.

Bar Keepers Friend Alternative 4: Powder Brewery Wash

Five Star Powder Brewery Wash, also known as P.B.W., is touted as an eco-friendly cleaner. While designed for commercial spaces, it is also suitable for household jobs.

Five Star P.B.W. Cleanser - 4 Pounds

It’s a great alternative to Bar Keepers Friend because it’s an alkaline formula that’s less toxic and non-caustic. Yet, it still powers through tough, caked-on messes similar to Bar Keepers Friend.

Pros of Powder Brewery Wash

Powder Brewery Wash works almost identically to Bar Keepers Friend. It cleans up tough stains and grime on stainless steel.

While you have to rinse off Bar Keepers Friend within minutes, you can use P.B.W. to soak items, which offers more cleaning flexibility.

Powder Brewery Wash is designed for use on food preparation surfaces. You can feel confident using it on your cookware.

Finally, P.B.W. is safe for your skin. Bar Keepers Friend is not.

Cons of Powder Brewery Wash

P.B.W. is mainly available in large quantities, so it’s harder to store and costs more upfront than Bar Keepers Friend. 

Powder Brewery Wash is not proven on other household items. It’s specifically for metals, rubber gaskets, tubing, and plastic parts. Bar Keepers Friend is suitable for a much longer list of cleaning tasks.

Bar Keepers Friend is easy to find online and at home improvement and grocery stores. You’ll have to order Powder Brewery Wash from places like Amazon and specific retailers.

To sum up, P.B.W. is designed to clean commercial equipment, but it performs just as well around the house. It provides similar results to Bar Keepers Friend, especially with hard-to-clean messes on stainless steel.

Bar Keepers Friend Alternative 5: The Pink Stuff

The Pink Stuff is dubbed as a miracle multi-purpose cleaner. The product of England-based Star Brands has been around since 1938. It’s formulated to clean most hard surfaces.

Stardrops - The Pink Stuff - The Miracle All Purpose Cleaning Paste

It’s an effective alternative to Bar Keepers Friend because it’s non-toxic, eco-friendly, and can handle tough cleaning jobs on various surfaces. 

What are the pros and cons of using The Pink Stuff? Let’s explore both.

Pros of The Pink Stuff

Like Bar Keepers Friend, The Pink Stuff contains abrasives to help clean difficult stains. The abrasive material is milder than Bar Keepers Friend, but it gets the job done.

It’s a cruelty-free multi-purpose cleaner. You can use it on most hard surfaces, including shower walls, sinks, tile, stovetops, and stainless steel cookware.

Unlike Bar Keepers Friend, it is made with 99% natural ingredients such as sodium bicarbonate, water, and quartz. The formula is vegan.

Like Bar Keepers Friend, The Pink Stuff is available in different forms. It comes as a cleaning paste, cream cleaner, foam cleaner, or spray. Besides all-purpose cleaners, the brand offers a stain remover, toilet cleaner, and disinfectant.

Cons of The Pink Stuff

The Pink Stuff is not easy to find in stores. You’ll likely need to buy it online from Amazon or Walmart, so you’ll have to remember to replace it in advance.

Good Housekeeping Institute tested The Pink Stuff paste and found that it left a thin film on surfaces and was messier than cleaning spray. The good news is that the original formula is also available in a spray that’s easier to wipe than the cleaning paste.

The Pink Stuff has a strong following because it’s incredibly versatile (like Bar Keepers Friend). It does a similar job to Bar Keepers Friend, but without the harsh chemicals.

Bar Keepers Friend Alternative 6: CLR

CLR, which stands for Calcium, Lime & Rust Remover, is another multi-purpose cleaning product. It’s a product from Jelmar, a third-generation, family-owned company. For more than 50 years, it’s been a solid cleaning product for households.

CLR Calcium, Lime & Rust Remover, Blasts Calcium, Dissolves Lime, Zaps Rust Stains, 28 Ounce Bottle

It’s a reliable alternative to Bar Keepers Friend because it’s non-toxic, can clean hard-to-remove stains fast, and works well on stainless steel.

Let’s review the pros and cons.

Pros of CLR

CLR is 80% plant-based. It’s recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a safer choice product. The EWG gives CLR an A due to limited concerns regarding its impact on health and the environment.

CLR does not contain phosphates, ammonia, or chlorine bleach. Instead, the formula contains lactic and gluconic acids to address calcium, lime, and rust. Bar Keepers Friend uses oxalic acid to address rust and mineral deposits.

Unlike Bar Keepers Friend, CLR is safe for cleaning plastic surfaces.

Like Bar Keepers Friend, CLR is best-suited for cleaning hard surfaces in your kitchen and bathroom. You can also use it outdoors on aluminum siding.

Cons of CLR

CLR only comes in a liquid form, but Bar Keepers Friend is available in liquid, powder, soft cleanser, and other formulations.

Also, CLR doesn’t include abrasives in its formula like Bar Keepers Friend. So, you might have to scrub harder to remove stubborn stains and discoloration on hard surfaces.

Finally, CLR has a more pungent odor than Bar Keepers Friend. If you prefer a scent-free option, try an alternative like Bon Ami or Arm & Hammer baking soda.

Overall, CLR is a solid alternative to Bar Keepers Friend if you want a versatile and effective cleaner in liquid form.

Which Bar Keepers Friend Alternative Is Best for You?

The six alternatives to Bar Keepers Friend in this article represent the best options on the market. Based on what you learned, which is right for you?

Before you choose the best Bar Keepers Friend alternative, consider these questions:

Do you want a powder or liquid cleanser?

Bon Ami, Arm & Hammer baking soda, and Powder Brewery Wash are powders. Method Stainless Steel Cleaner and Polish and CLR are liquids. The Pink Stuff comes as a paste, foam, or liquid spray.

How will you use it?

If you are looking for a stainless steel cleaner for cookware, all of these alternatives will work. However, if you have a baked-on mess or burnt food, you’ll have better results with cleaners that contain abrasives, like Bon Ami and The Pink Stuff.

Do you want a streak-free result?

Method Stainless Steel Cleaner and Polish and CLR are the best options for streak-free results. The sprays wipe away clean. Other options require repeated rinsing and wiping.

Do you want the most natural alternative?

Go with Arm & Hammer baking soda. It has one ingredient: sodium bicarbonate.

Are you looking for a budget buy?

Bon Ami and Arm & Hammer baking soda are two of the lowest-priced alternatives on this list.

Are you comfortable purchasing online?

If so, you can easily buy any of these alternatives. If you prefer to walk into a store to buy the cleaner, choose Bon Ami, Arm & Hammer baking soda, or CLR.

Bottom line — the best alternative to Bar Keepers Friend largely depends on how you plan to use it. For stainless steel or light messes, any of these options will work. For stubborn stains and heavy-duty cleaning, you’ll need an alternative containing abrasives such as Bon Ami or The Pink Stuff.

If you’re looking for an alternative that performs nearly the same as Bar Keepers Friend but is made of safer ingredients, go with Bon Ami.

Based on my tests, Bon Ami delivers almost the same results as Bar Keepers Friend. It’s cheap, easy to use, and has stood the test of time (it’s been around for over a century). You can buy Bon Ami and any of the other Bar Keepers Friend alternatives at the links below:

Andrew Palermo Founder of Prudent Reviews

Andrew Palermo - About the Author

Andrew is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Prudent Reviews. He’s been studying consumer buying behavior for 10+ years and has managed marketing campaigns for over a dozen Fortune 500 brands. When he’s not testing the latest home products, he’s spending time with his family, cooking, and doing house projects. Connect with Andrew on LinkedIn or via email.

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