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Bar Keepers Friend vs. Comet: What’s the Difference?

Are you shopping for cleaning supplies but can’t decide between Bar Keepers Friend and Comet?

Both are well-known brands, but how are they different? 

In this comparison of Bar Keepers Friend vs. Comet, you’ll learn how they differ in product offerings, ingredients, cleaning power, safety, and more.

By the end, you’ll have all the key facts you need to decide which cleaning products are right for your home.


Use the links below to navigate the comparison:


Product Offerings

Although I focus this comparison on Bar Keepers Friend and Comet powder cleaners, both brands offer a wide variety of cleaning products.

From spray and foam to pads and cloths, both brands boast a versatile product lineup.

Let’s review what each brand offers, starting with Bar Keepers Friend:

Bar Keepers Friend Powder Cleanser

Bar Keepers Friend’s signature product is its powder cleanser. The versatile powder removes stains on non-porous surfaces like sinks, countertops, and floors. It’s also great for shining porcelain and stainless steel or for removing rust and tarnish.

Bar Keepers Friend Powder Cleanser

Bar Keepers Friend Cookware Cleanser & Polish

This specialized powder cleaner is ideal for burnt-on food and grease stains on your cookware. It has 50% more detergents than other Bar Keepers Friend products, and it’s safe for various dishware, including enamel-coated, ceramic, and even cast iron.

Bar Keepers Friend Soft Cleanser

The soft cleanser is the cream version of the classic powder cleanser. It’s ideal for quick cleaning jobs, glass doors, or any surface with tarnish or rust buildup.

Bar Keepers Friend Cooktop Cleaner

The cooktop cleaner is a less abrasive cream cleanser for sensitive kitchen surfaces like ceramic cooktops. It helps remove oil and food debris safely without damaging a cooktop surface. You can use it on glass surfaces, as well as metal and ceramic cookware.

Bar Keepers Friend MORE Spray + Foam

A cleaner that has both a spray and foam setting. The spray is perfect for everyday cleaning on non-porous surfaces, and the foam is for tougher cleaning jobs.

Bar Keepers Friend Stainless Steel Cleaner & Polish

A non-abrasive spray cleaner formulated specifically for stainless steel surfaces. It removes fingerprints, food stains, and water spots without scratching or damaging a surface.

Bar Keepers Friend Stone & Granite Cleaner & Polish

For natural stone and granite surfaces, this spray cleaner is pH-balanced so that it won’t damage surfaces sensitive to high acid.

Barkeepers Friend also offers liquid cleaners for coffee makers, toilet bowl cleaners, and a line of microfiber cloths. For a complete list of products, visit Bar Keeper Friend’s store on Amazon.

Comet also has an impressive list of cleaning products. Below are their top offerings.

Comet Cleanser (Pine, Lemon & Lavender)

A non-abrasive powder cleanser for household cleaning. Comet recently updated the formula to have “50% More Cleaning Power than the original.” Unlike Barkeepers Friend, this cleanser comes in three scents: pine, lemon, and lavender. 

Comet Powder Cleanser

Comet Cleanser 2X

Comet 2X has the same ingredients as the original Comet Cleanser, but the ratio of cleaning agents is much higher, giving it 50% more cleaning power.

Comet Ultra Bathroom Sprays

Comet’s bathroom cleaner sprays kill 99.9% of germs, including the most common household germs like E. Coli. The spray comes in an original or lavender scent. Comet also offers a foam spray to remove soap scum, hard water stains, and dirt on bathroom and kitchen surfaces.

Other Comet cleaning products include soft cleansers, erasing pads, and sprays with bleach. Check out all of their products on CometCleaner.com.

Ingredients

One of the most significant differences between Bar Keepers Friend and Comet is the ingredients.

Both brands are transparent about their formulas, with the ingredients listed on each product page.

If you’re looking for the ingredients for a specific product, go to the brand’s website, click on the products, and look for the tab that says “Ingredients.”

Here’s how it appears on BarKeepersFriend.com:

Bar Keepers Friend Powder Cleanser Ingredients

And here’s how you find it on CometCleaner.com:

Comet Powder Cleanser Ingredients

Let’s take a close look at what’s inside each formula, starting with Bar Keepers Friend Powder Cleanser:

  • Mineral Abrasive: A gritty material that creates friction to help lift stains, dirt, grease, and food.
  • Oxalic Acid: Oxalic Acid is the main ingredient in Bar Keepers Friend. It’s an organic acid found in common fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. It’s a crystalline solid high in acid, which makes it highly effective at removing hard water stains and mineral deposits. However, because of its high acid content, it’s toxic if ingested in large doses and can irritate your skin and lungs with prolonged exposure.
  • Surfactant: A compound that lowers the surface tension between a gas and liquid or a solid and liquid. Surfactants are typical in cleaning products because they help trap and remove dirt on a surface.
  • Water-Softening Agent: Helps remove soap scum, hard water stains, lime, and rust.

Here are the ingredients in Comet powder cleanser:

  • Calcium Carbonate: A chemical compound that is the main component in eggshells, seashells, and pearls. It’s used as a whitening and scrubbing agent and is what gives Comet its granular texture.
  • Sodium Carbonate: A water softener that binds to minerals and lifts stains and soils from surfaces.
  • Alkylbenzene Sulfonic Acid: A synthetic surfactant that is commonly used in detergents. It breaks up the surface tension between gas and liquid to help trap and remove dirt.
  • Trichloroisocyanuric Acid: An organic compound used as a disinfectant to kill bacteria and whiten surfaces. It’s a white crystalline powder with a distinctive “chlorine odor.” It’s toxic when inhaled or ingested.
  • Fragrance Ingredients: As the name implies, these ingredients are to make Comet smell pleasant. Fragrances include pine, lavender, and lemon.
  • Pigment Green 7: A synthetic green pigment used for aesthetic purposes. 

Bar Keepers Friend and Comet are abrasive cleansers that include granules to help scrub away stains and residue. These granules are excellent for removing stains, but they can scratch delicate surfaces, so you need to be careful and only clean approved surfaces (more on that in the next section).

The primary difference between Bar Keepers Friend and Comet’s ingredients is that Bar Keepers Friend is acid-based, while Comet is bleach-based. Oxalic acid is the main ingredient in Bar Keepers Friend, and Comet’s main ingredient is trichloroisocyanuric acid (bleaching agent). Both ingredients are highly effective for cleaning but also toxic.

If you need additional information regarding the safety of either product’s ingredients, refer to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) website, a group dedicated to helping consumers make informed and safe decisions.

The EWG reviews a comprehensive list of cleaning and household products and rates them based on safety measures like allergens, toxins, and environmental impact.

EWG Safety Ratings
EWG Safety Ratings

They gave Bar Keepers Friend a score of F across the board, while Comet received anywhere from a C score to an F score, depending on the product. In other words, both can be dangerous to your health and the environment if misused or ingested.

If you’re interested in brands that use fewer chemicals, consider a cleaner like Bon Ami, which gets an A rating by EWG.

How to Use

Using Bar Keepers Friend and Comet is simple, and both have the same cleaning instructions for their powder cleaners.

First, make sure the surface you are cleaning is wet. Then, sprinkle the cleanser on the surface.

Let the product rest before scrubbing it with a wet sponge or a cloth. 

Because both of these cleansers are abrasive, make sure to wipe gently to avoid damaging the surface you are cleaning. 

If you’re cleaning stainless steel, wipe with the grain. Wiping against the grain can cause scratches. 

If necessary, add more product and let it sit for one minute before wiping it away. Be sure to rinse the area thoroughly when finished.

Both Bar Keepers Friend and Comet are versatile cleaners; however, there are certain surfaces you should not use powder cleansers on.

Sensitive materials like gold, silver, marble, granite, plastic, and painted or mirrored surfaces are not meant for powder cleaners; they’re too abrasive and could cause damage.

Also, Comet is not safe on glass or ceramic tiles. Since it contains bleach, it can alter the appearance of ceramic if you leave it on for too long.

Always use caution when using Bar Keepers Friend and Comet. Wear gloves to protect your skin, and avoid any contact with your eyes. It’s also important to never mix a powder cleanser with anything containing ammonia. In fact, the only thing you should mix with these products is water.

Cleaning instructions vary by product, so always read the back of the bottle carefully before using them.

Test Results

Now that you know what each brand offers, how their formulas differ, and how to use them, it’s time to find out which works better.

To get a fair comparison, I tested Bar Keepers Friend Powder Cleanser vs. Comet Powder Cleanser on three different surfaces.

First, I tested both products on a stained stainless steel pan. The stains were baked into the bottom of the pan, so scrubbing with regular dish soap made no impact.

Comet versus Bar Keepers Friend_Cleaning a stainless steel pan

Although it took a few minutes of aggressive scrubbing, Bar Keepers Friend completely removed the stains, restoring the pan to its original shine.

Stainless steel pan after cleaning one side with Bar Keepers Friend
Stainless steel pan after cleaning one side with Bar Keepers Friend

Comet also removed most of the stains, but I had to work much harder and scrub for about three more minutes.

Stainless steel pan after cleaning the left side with Comet and the right side with Bar Keepers Friend
Stainless steel pan after cleaning the left side with Comet and the right side with Bar Keepers Friend

During the test, I noticed Comet’s odor was much harsher than Bar Keepers Friend’s, likely due to the bleach in the formula.

Next, I tested both products on a porcelain-coated cast iron bathtub. The tub has a fine texture that prevents slips but also collects dirt.

Bar Keepers Friend removed the dirt after only seconds of cleaning. After scrubbing for about thirty seconds, the part of the tub I cleaned looked brand new.

Bath tub after cleaning one side with Bar Keepers Friend
Bath tub after cleaning one side with Bar Keepers Friend

Comet was also highly effective at removing dirt from the tub, but similar to when I tested it on stainless steel, it took more effort to get the same results.

Finally, I tested Bar Keepers Friend and Comet on white grout that had turned dark gray over the years.

Both brands restored the original grout color without much effort.

Overall, both products got the job done. Bar Keepers Friend cleaned the stainless steel pan and bathtub more quickly and effectively, but with a little more effort, I was able to get similar results with Comet.

Price

Both Bar Keepers Friend and Comet powder cleansers are budget-friendly, so price shouldn’t be a deciding factor. That said, Bar Keepers Friend products tend to cost slightly more than Comet.

When comparing cleaning products, look at the cost per ounce to better understand the overall value. 

The chart below shows the current prices on Amazon of both brands’ most popular products:

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

What Others Are Saying

To get a broader perspective on how Bar Keepers Friend and Comet measure up, let’s look at what other experts are saying.

In an article reviewing the best cleaning products, Today ranks Bar Keepers Friend Powder Cleanser #7 on the top ten “Expert-Approved” products list. It gets praised for being low-odor, versatile, and safe on most surfaces because it is non-abrasive.

Home advice website The Spruce named Bar Keepers Friend Cookware Polish the best cleaner for cookware. The article notes that the cleaner is more effective at removing hard water, stains, and streaks than a dishwasher. It also gives the product praise for being useful on stainless steel surfaces outside of the kitchen.

The New York Times mentions Bar Keeper Friend in a piece about properly cleaning a stainless steel pan. While the entire article isn’t focused on Bar Keepers Friend, it’s one of the products recommended for a cleaner strong enough to scrub away stains and caked-on food.

Home improvement star Bob Villa lists Bar Keepers Friend in an article detailing ten cleaning products that have stood the test of time. While it is a short blurb, the mention is a positive one.

Many brands have endorsed Bar Keepers Friend as a trusted cleaner. Companies such as All-Clad, Calphalon, and Kohler all recommend Bar Keepers Friend for cleaning.

Comet doesn’t receive nearly as many accolades as Bar Keepers Friend. In fact, I couldn’t find any awards or recognition for the brand (other than the praise it gets from customers).

Bob Villa calls out Comet when he talks about cleaners that can do the most damage. Comet is a silica-based cleaner that can scratch porcelain. This isn’t a negative review but a caution that it might not be the best product to clean sensitive surfaces.

FAQs About Bar Keepers Friend and Comet

In this section, I reveal the answers to the most frequently asked questions about Bar Keepers Friend and Comet.

Are Bar Keepers Friend and Comet toxic?

While there are toxic ingredients in both products (Oxalic Acid and Trichloroisocyanuric Acid), they are safe to clean with so long as you take proper precautions. Wear gloves and avoid contact with the skin and eyes. Never inhale or swallow either product.

What happens if you leave Bar Keepers Friend and Comet on too long?

If you keep powder cleansers on a surface longer than the recommended time of one minute, it can cause discoloration to the surface, especially on metal surfaces.

What surfaces can you use Bar Keepers Friend and Comet on?

Both products are ideal for a variety of non-porous surfaces. Use powder cleansers on stainless steel, copper, brass, tile, porcelain, and most cookware and cooktop surfaces. Bar Keepers Friend is safe on glass and ceramic tile, but Comet is not.

What surfaces should you NOT use Bar Keepers Friend and Comet on?

Do not use Bar Keepers Friend or Comet on sensitive surfaces like gold, silver, marble, granite, or colored grout. Also, avoid lacquered, painted, or mirrored surfaces, and never use these products on carpet or other soft surfaces.

For complete lists of where you can and can’t use these products, visit BarKeepersFriend.com and CometCleaner.com.

Are Bar Keepers Friend and Comet disinfectants?

Bar Keepers Friend is an effective cleaner, but it’s not a disinfectant. Comet offers two products that are EPA registered disinfectants: Comet Bathroom Spray and Comet Classic Antibacterial Spray. Comet powder cleanser is not a registered disinfectant.

Are Bar Keepers Friend and Comet septic-safe?

Yes, both cleansers are septic-safe when used as recommended.

Can you mix Bar Keepers Friend and Comet with other cleaners?

No, never mix these cleansers with anything besides water. Mixing powder cleanser with an ammonia-based cleaner causes a chemical reaction that releases a dangerous toxic gas.

Do Bar Keepers Friend and Comet expire?

The active cleaning ingredients do not expire, but they can lose effectiveness over time. Avoid storing powder cleansers in humid conditions because it causes the powder to solidify.

Where can you buy Bar Keepers Friend and Comet?

Both of these products are available in virtually any grocery store or home improvement retailer. They are also available to purchase on Amazon (Bar Keepers Friend, Comet).

Who owns Bar Keepers Friend and Comet?

Bar Keepers Friend is owned by SerVaas Laboratories, Inc. Comet is owned by KIK Custom Products Inc.

Bottom Line: Should You Use Comet or Bar Keepers Friend?

Bar Keepers Friend and Comet offer reliable cleaning products, and both brands have stood the test of time. 

But before you grab a bottle and start cleaning, it’s important to know their differences. 

Let’s sum up the key takeaways:

  • Bar Keepers Friend and Comet clean hard, non-porous surfaces. They’re ideal for cleaning most kitchen and bathroom surfaces.
  • Don’t use Bar Keeper Friend or Comet on sensitive surfaces like silver, gold, marble, granite, or plastic.
  • Bar Keepers Friend is safe on glass and ceramic tiles, but Comet is not.
  • Both brands contain granules and are abrasive cleaners, but the granules in Comet are larger and more likely to scratch surfaces. 
  • Bar Keepers Friend is an acidic cleaner, whereas Comet is a bleach-based cleaner.
  • Although Bar Keepers Friend and Comet contain toxic ingredients, they’re safe to use if you take proper precautions.
  • Comet offers disinfectant sprays, while none of Bar Keepers Friend’s products kill germs.
  • Based on my tests, Bar Keepers Friend is more effective at cleaning stainless steel and porcelain.

Ultimately, Bar Keepers Friend and Comet are both trusted brands, and their cleaning products are cheap, versatile, and highly effective.

If you’re still not sure which to buy, I recommend Bar Keepers Friend. It’s less abrasive and more effective on stainless steel and porcelain. It also has a milder odor and is safe on more surfaces, including glass and ceramic tile.

If you’re ready to buy or want to learn more, check out Bar Keepers Friend on Amazon and BarKeepersFriend.com and Comet on Amazon and CometCleaner.com.

Andrew Palermo Founder of Prudent Reviews

Andrew Palermo - About the Author

Andrew is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Prudent Reviews. He’s studied 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 via emailLinkedIn, or the Prudent Reviews YouTube channel.

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