Bar Keepers Friend and The Pink Stuff are two trusted cleaning brands.
Both remove tough stains, grime, and rust on stainless steel, tile, glass, and other hard surfaces. But which brand works better? What are their main differences?
In this comparison of Bar Keepers Friend vs. The Pink Stuff, you’ll learn how they differ in product offerings, ingredients, safety, ease of use, and more.
I also reveal the results of the test I conducted to determine which cleaner is better at removing stubborn stains.
Use the links below to navigate the comparison:
- Cleaning Performance (Test Results)
- How to Use
- What Others Say
- Product Offerings
- Bottom Line: Should You Use The Pink Stuff or Bar Keepers Friend?
Cleaning Performance (Test Results)
Let’s answer the main question on your mind:
Which cleaner works better, Bar Keepers Friend or The Pink Stuff?
First, I placed a thin strip of tape down the middle of the dirtiest stainless steel pan in my kitchen. As you can see below, the bottom of this pan was almost completely brown and discolored.
I use this pan almost daily and haven’t scrubbed it in months, so the staining was baked into the steel.
Next, I applied The Pink Stuff paste to the left side with a paper towel and began scrubbing with a Scotch-Brite sponge. This product has a pleasant fruity fragrance (keep it away from small children), and because it comes as a paste, it adheres to the surface you apply it to and doesn’t drip.
Almost immediately, the stains began to vanish. As the water in the sponge dripped off to the sides, so did the discoloration. It took about two minutes to clean the left half of the pan completely.
To get a fair comparison, I cleaned the right side with Bar Keepers Friend using the same force and scrubbed for the same amount of time.
Unlike The Pink Stuff paste that went on smooth, Bar Keepers Friend powder was clumped up in the can and made a mess as I shook it on the pan. It also has a slightly unpleasant odor that becomes more noticeable when you add water to create a paste.
At a glance, both cleaners did a fantastic job removing the stains. However, when I took a closer look, I noticed a faint stain on the left side, which I cleaned with The Pink Stuff. The Bar Keepers Friend side was spotless and shiny.
I repeated this test with another pan to see if the results differed. The stains on this pan were worse, so I scrubbed both sides for about 3 minutes.
This time, The Pink Stuff and Bar Keepers Friend both did a great job removing most of the stains, and there was no lingering discoloration on either side.
For the final test, I attempted to clean one of my go-to non-stick aluminum pans. This pan has a steel induction plate on the bottom that had turned almost black from so much baked-in oil and grime.
Both cleaners removed the initial layer of grime, but if you look closely, the right side, which I cleaned with Bar Keepers Friend, is cleaner with less discoloration.
Both failed to eliminate the deepest, most stubborn stains within 3 minutes. I might have been able to remove the remaining stains with 3 to 5 additional minutes of scrubbing.
Overall, The Pink Stuff and Bar Keepers Friend are both highly effective. The Pink Stuff had a more pleasant odor and was less messy, but Bar Keepers Friend cleaned two of the three pans better.
Want to see me conduct these tests? Watch this quick video:
Bar Keepers Friend doesn’t include an ingredient list on the packaging, so I reached out to the head chemist at Bar Keepers Friend, who confirmed the product contains:
- Oxalic acid
- Glass oxide
- Benzene sulfonic acid
- Mono C10-16 derivative
- Sodium salt
The main active ingredient is oxalic acid, which breaks down rust, limescale, and stains. It’s a potent ingredient for cleaning and whitening but also corrosive to the skin and is harmful if ingested. Always wear gloves, eye protection, and a mask when cleaning with Bar Keepers Friend. The glass oxide serves as the abrasive to scour away deep stains.
Star Brands, the company that owns The Pink Stuff, claims all its products are 100% natural. Its Miracle Cleaning Paste contains soap, perfume, laurylamine dipropylenediamine (a preservative and antimicrobial agent), and quartz.
The Pink Stuff’s active ingredient is soap (sodium palmate), which acts as a surfactant and emulsifying agent. In other words, it breaks down the surface tension of dirt, grease, and grime and allows it to mix with water so it can be scrubbed off and rinsed away.
The paste is primarily made up of quartz, which acts as an abrasive to help scrub away dirt, similar to the glass oxide in Bar Keepers Friend.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a non-profit organization dedicated to rating the impact of cleaning products on your health and the environment.
The Pink Stuff received a low ranking (C through F, depending on the product) due to concerns about bioaccumulation and increased cancer risk.
EWG gives all Bar Keepers Friend products an F rating. The main concern for Bar Keepers Friend was oxalic acid and its potential to contribute to skin irritation, allergies, developmental damage, reproductive effects, and vision damage.
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Whether you’re looking to bring new life to your stainless steel cookware or give your kitchen a thorough deep clean, the right products are only as good as a proper application.
In this section, I’ll provide a step-by-step guide on how to use both The Pink Stuff and Bar Keepers Friend to achieve the best results.
- First, ensure the surface you plan to clean is compatible with Bar Keeper’s Friend. While surfaces like stainless steel, porcelain, aluminum, or brass will be fine, be cautious when cleaning delicate surfaces, like glass, because of the mild abrasive texture.
- Prepare the surface for cleaning by removing any loose dirt and debris with a paper towel, damp rag, or sponge. Pre-rinse your cookware so it is lightly dampened.
- Evenly sprinkle Bar Keepers Friend powder cleaner over the cookware or appliance surface.
- Let the powder sit for no longer than one minute. Do not let the powder cleaner rest too long on your metal cookware and appliances because it may cause discoloration.
- Scrub the Bar Keepers Friend into the surface you’re cleaning with a sponge, brush, or rag. Be sure to use small circular motions and thoroughly scrub the entire surface area.
- Rinse the Bar Keepers Friend powder and repeat these steps as needed.
When Not to Use Bar Keepers Friend
Bar Keepers Friend does not recommend using its product on cast iron, granite, marble, wood, fabric, leather, painted surfaces, or other materials sensitive to abrasives.
Some users have had good results when using Bar Keepers Friend to clean gold, silver, and mirrored surfaces, but the company warns against it. If you are unsure about the compatibility of the surface, test on a small, inconspicuous area first.
- Before beginning cleaning, ensure the surface is cool to the touch. Do not use The Pink Stuff cleaning paste on hot or warm surfaces. If needed, allow the surface to cool down before proceeding.
- Using a soft dishcloth or sponge, apply a small amount of The Pink Stuff Miracle Cleaning Paste directly onto the surface you wish to clean. Remember, a little goes a long way, so start with a small amount and add more if necessary.
- Gently rub the paste onto the surface using light pressure with a soft cloth or sponge. Be cautious not to apply excessive force — because this cleaner is abrasive, applying pressure can lead to scratching, especially on highly polished steel surfaces, ceramic, and glass.
- After gently rubbing the paste onto the surface, allow it to rest if necessary to help break down difficult stains. Then, rinse it thoroughly with hot water. After rinsing, make sure all traces of the paste are removed from the surface.
Where not to use The Pink Stuff Miracle Cleaning Paste
Avoid using the pink stuff on any surface that can easily be scratched, like stainless steel kitchen appliances, enamel cookware, or plated metals. If you’re unsure whether The Pink Stuff Miracle Cleaning Paste is compatible with a particular surface, test it on an inconspicuous area first.
Let’s explore what reputable media outlets and home/lifestyle publications have to say about The Pink Stuff and Bar Keepers Friend:
The Today Show gave Bar Keepers Friend a shout-out in its list of the Best Household Cleaners for Spring Cleaning. Today noted that Bar Keepers Friend is effective on shower doors and toilets and removes scuffs from dishware.
The Spruce also called out Bar Keepers Friend in its roundup of the best cleaners for stainless steel appliances. Bar Keepers Friend Superior Cookware Cleanser and Polish was named the Best for Cookware on this list. The Spruce liked that it’s safe to use on both stainless steel and glass and easily cuts through grease.
Bob Vila featured Bar Keepers Friend in its collection of classic home cleaners. Specifically, Bob Vila calls out Bar Keepers Friend’s 141-year legacy and how its reliable formula is still widely used for stainless steel, porcelain, and ceramic surfaces.
The Pink Stuff received mixed reviews from the New York Times, which admitted it is an excellent household cleanser but not the miracle product social media would have you believe. The NYT loved that The Pink Stuff is an effective cleaner with a pleasant smell and an affordable price tag. But it also acknowledged that it can take quite a bit of scrubbing to get the desired results, which is consistent with my tests.
Consumer Reports pointed out that The Pink Stuff’s “100% Natural” claim could be misleading. While the ingredients in the cleaner are found in nature, that doesn’t automatically mean it is completely safe. Consumer Reports warn users to read the fine print on the packaging and not to use The Pink Stuff on anything that could get scratched by the abrasive cleaner.
The Pink Stuff also got a shout-out from Better Homes and Gardens as an effective way to get your oven clean. However, BHG is also quick to point out that this is not a miracle product, and it takes a lot of scrubbing and elbow grease to get the job done.
All-Clad, one of the most renowned cookware brands (and one of my favorites), recommends using Bar Keepers Friend to remove stubborn stains, burnt fat, and charred food from its pans.
Calphalon, another quality cookware brand, also recommends Bar Keepers Friend for cleaning tough stains on their pots and pans.
In this section, I’ll answer the most frequently asked questions about the safety and effectiveness of Bar Keepers Friend and The Pink Stuff.
When used as directed and in appropriate amounts, both brands are safe. However, it’s crucial to follow the instructions provided on the container and take precautions. To protect yourself, wear gloves and eye protection and adequately ventilate the area you’ll be cleaning.
Both brands can irritate your skin and eyes if they come in direct contact. And both are harmful if ingested. Since The Pink Stuff has a fruity fragrance, keep it away from young children who might be tempted to taste it.
Read the fine print in The Pink Stuff and Bar Keepers Friend safety data sheets to learn more.
You can use The Pink Stuff and Bar Keepers Friend on steel, brass, glass, tile, grout, enameled cast iron, metal furniture, copper, fiberglass, and almost any other hard surface.
Since the most popular cleaners from both brands are mild abrasives, avoid using them on shiny surfaces like stainless steel appliances (Bar Keepers Friend Stainless Steel cleaner is safe on appliances), enamel, or finished flooring. Also, avoid using both brands on gold or silver, polished stone such as marble or granite, colored grout, or lacquered, painted, or mirrored surfaces.
As a general rule, if you’re worried about the surface being scored or scratched, use a non-abrasive cleaner instead.
When using The Pink Stuff to remove stains on grout, leave the cleaner on for about 10 minutes before wiping it with a damp rag or sponge.
Yes, both are excellent at removing rust from surfaces. The mild abrasive texture of these cleaners helps to quickly scrub away rust on kitchen appliances and cookware without damaging the surface underneath.
The Pink Stuff and Bar Keepers Friend are excellent at removing limescale caused by hard water buildup. The Pink Stuff toilet cleaner is designed to remove limescale with repeated use.
The Pink Stuff and Bar Keepers Friend are excellent choices for deep cleaning the interior of your oven. The abrasive cleaners scrub away deep baked-in stains and grime.
These cleaners work exceptionally well if used after running your oven’s self-cleaning cycle, but if you don’t have one, you can still clean your oven by mixing either The Pink Stuff or Bar Keepers Friend with hot water and scrubbing down the surface.
The Pink Stuff’s signature cleaning paste is not a disinfectant. However, The Pink Stuff’s cleaning product line does include a disinfectant spray. Bar Keeper’s Friend is not disinfectant or antibacterial.
Bar Keepers Friend and The Pink Stuff are safe for septic systems because they are biodegradable and do not contain fillers or bleaches.
No, never mix either brand with other cleaners. The acid in Bar Keepers Friend could release toxic fumes if combined with ammonia or bleach. The Pink Stuff warns not to mix its products with other cleaners for the same reason.
You can purchase The Pink Stuff from its website or through other online retailers, such as Amazon, Walmart, or Home Depot. You’ll find Bar Keepers Friend on Amazon or other online retailers, like Target, The Home Depot, Walmart, Kroger, and Albertsons.
The Pink Stuff is known for its signature cleaning paste but has expanded its product line to feature multi-purpose cleaning sprays, window cleaners, toilet cleaners, and laundry detergents.
In addition to its signature powdered cleanser, Bar Keepers Friend offers several liquid cleaners designed for specialized cleaning tasks.
Here’s a quick breakdown of both brands’ most popular products.
The Pink Stuff’s signature product is its cleaning paste. This mild abrasive cleaner is designed for tough stains and built-up grime on various surfaces, such as cookware, appliances, and tiles.
As a non-abrasive alternative to The Pink Stuff’s cleaning paste, this cream cleaner is an effective-yet-gentle cleaning solution that can remove stains and grease on surfaces like enamel, ceramics, and countertops where you may not want to apply an abrasive cleaner. It’s also a good choice for tough outdoor applications like grills.
The Pink Stuff Miracle Multi-Purpose Cleaner is a traditional spray cleaner. It’s designed as an all-purpose cleaning solution for your kitchen and bathroom and can be used on surfaces like sinks, bathroom fixtures, kitchen counters, windows, interior walls, and upholstery.
This toilet cleaner is helpful as a one-time toilet cleaner, but when used regularly (three times a week) or overnight, it can remove limescale from your toilet bowl and leave it sparkling clean. Plus, the signature rhubarb scent of The Pink Stuff’s products will add a pleasant fruity fragrance to your bathroom, rather than the harsh chemical scent of most toilet cleaners.
The Pink Stuff’s convenient foaming spray cleaner is made specifically for quick and easy cleanup of kitchen surfaces. Allowing the foam to expand on tough stains gives the cleaner time to penetrate through grease or dried-on gunk. From there, you can easily wipe or rinse the stain away.
The Pink Stuff Miracle Window & Glass Cleaner With Rose Vinegar is formulated to eliminate dirt, smudges, and streaks from glass surfaces like windows and oven doors. It leaves your glass surfaces streak and smudge-free with a subtle fruity scent left behind. This product is not suitable for frosted glass surfaces.
This powerful stain-fighting solution is designed to help remove tough stains from fabrics quickly and easily. It penetrates deep into the fabric’s fibers to break down and remove various stains, including food, grease, oil, and more. It can be used as a pre-soak or in addition to your regular laundry detergent.
The Pink Stuff’s fabric softener is a gentle and effective formula designed to provide softness and freshness to your laundry. It helps to soften the fabric’s texture, reduce static cling, and leave clothes feeling soft and comfortable after each wash. During your washing machine cycle, use it in place of fabric softener, but avoid pouring it directly on your clothes.
This versatile cleaning solution works on a range of hard floor surfaces. When diluted with water, it tackles dirt, grime, and spills, leaving floors clean and refreshed without leaving behind residue or streaks. Plus, there’s no need to rinse afterward.
The company’s signature powder cleanser is easy to use, versatile, and ideal for non-porous surfaces around your kitchen, such as sinks, countertops, tile, and flooring. It easily cuts through dirt, grime, rust, and tarnish on your porcelain or stainless steel cookware.
This specialized powder cleaner is perfect for cookware that needs extra care and cleaning power, such as enamel-coated and ceramic pieces. It has 50% more detergents than other Bar Keepers Friend cleaners, which helps it power through difficult stains. It’s also safe for cookware and dishware that can’t be cleaned with the Original Bar Keeper’s Friend powder, like cast iron.
Powder cleansers are messy and difficult to use in small areas where you don’t have room to shake the can. This cream cleanser is Bar Keepers Friend’s answer to these problems. It’s easy to apply and eliminates tarnish and rust. It’s also ideal for quick cleaning jobs that only need a few seconds of scrubbing.
Designed for glass cooktops, this gentle cleanser is less abrasive and can help remove oil and food debris without damaging the delicate cooktop surface. It can be used on other glass surfaces in your kitchen, like oven doors and coffee pots.
This cleaner has a spray and foam setting for various applications. The spray setting is perfect for cleaning non-porous surfaces like glass, metal, or varnished wood daily. The foam setting is for tougher cleaning jobs — the foam sits on the stain for an extended period and breaks down the stain’s surface, making it easier to scrub away.
This spray cleaner is non-abrasive and designed specifically for use with stainless steel cookware, appliances, and surfaces. It can remove troublesome food stains, water spots, fingerprints, and more without scratching the stainless steel surface. Because it’s a spray cleaner, it can easily cover hard-to-reach areas and provide even coverage while cleaning.
This cleaning spray is pH-balanced; it won’t damage surfaces sensitive to high acid, like natural stone or granite. It’s excellent for natural stone countertops in your kitchen or bathroom.
For a complete list of each brand’s product lineups, check out both brands at the links below:
Bar Keepers Friend and The Pink Stuff are versatile, affordable, widely available, and highly effective.
But before you decide which cleaner is better for your needs, let’s quickly recap the differences:
- Based on my tests, both products are effective on deeply stained cookware. Bar Keepers Friend did a slightly better job cleaning two out of three pans.
- The Pink Stuff has a more pleasant smell and is easier to apply.
- Bar Keepers Friend powder cleanser clumps up and can make a mess during application.
- The Pink Stuff offers a wide range of products meant to clean every surface in your home. Bar Keepers Friend has products more effective for kitchen surfaces like cookware, brass, and stainless steel.
- Media outlets and independent product testers mention that while The Pink Stuff is an effective cleaner, it requires lots of scrubbing to get the job done, and it doesn’t quite live up to its recent social media hype. Bar Keepers Friend has been one of the most reliable cleaning brands for over 100 years.
- Bar Keepers Friend is not a disinfectant, but The Pink Stuff offers a disinfectant spray in its product line.
Bottom Line — both brands get the job done.
The Pink Stuff smells better, and the paste adheres to the surface you’re cleaning, making it easier to apply and less messy.
But Bar Keepers Friend is a tried-and-true cleaner that’s proven its effectiveness for over 100 years. It has been my go-to cookware cleaner for years, and according to my tests, it performs better than The Pink Stuff. There’s a reason why established brands like All-Clad and Calphalon recommend Bar Keepers Friend — it works.
Here’s my recommendation — if you’re cleaning flat surfaces, go with Bar Keepers Friend. It’s a little messier, but it gets the job done well. But if you’re cleaning walls, appliances, or other vertical surfaces, The Pink Stuff’s sticky paste formula is easier to apply.
Since they’re so affordable, try both and see which you like the best.
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