Entertainment, Health and Lifestyle

My Secret Housecleaning Weapon

Keeping a pristine home doesn’t have to be a daunting or expensive task. I want to let you in on my secret weapon sitting front and center in my cleaning cupboard. It’s Bar Keepers Friend (BKF) and I wouldn’t want to clean without it.

BKF is a simple, versatile cleaning product that has been trusted by homeowners for over a century. Developed in 1882 by a chemist in Indianapolis, this cleaning powder was initially formulated to clean and polish brass and copper surfaces in bars and taverns, hence its name. It sits on the shelves of our favorite supermarkets and discount department stores. And it’s super cheap!

The key ingredient in BKF is oxalic acid, a powerful compound that effectively breaks down stubborn stains, rust, and mineral deposits. This acid is what gives BKF its remarkable cleaning capabilities, allowing it to tackle a wide range of surfaces and stains with ease.

Now here’s the fun part: Oxalic acid occurs naturally in many of the foods we consume, such as spinach, rhubarb and beets. And in the same way you wouldn’t eat a bushel of rhubarb in one sitting, ingesting BKF would not be a good idea either. Either could lead to symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

That said, one of the most appealing aspects of BKF is its relatively nontoxic nature. While oxalic acid is a potent cleaner, it is generally considered safe for household use when used as directed. However, it’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and avoid prolonged contact with the skin or ingestion of the product.

As with any cleaning product, it’s wise to keep BKF out of reach of children and pets and to use it in well-ventilated areas to minimize exposure to fumes.

BKF is simple and easy to use. Simply wet the surface you wish to clean, sprinkle the powder over the area, and gently scrub with a sponge or cloth. For tougher stains, you may need to let the product sit for a few minutes before rinsing it away.

Whether you’re tackling a grimy stovetop, a stained porcelain sink or tarnished stainless steel appliances, BKF makes quick work of even the most stubborn messes. Its fine powder consistency allows for precise application and targeted cleaning, making it suitable for a variety of surfaces and materials.

BKF is incredibly versatile and can be used to clean a wide range of surfaces and materials throughout your home. From kitchen appliances and cookware to bathroom fixtures and outdoor furniture, there’s almost nothing BKF can’t tackle.

Here are just a few of the many surfaces and materials BKF can clean effectively: stainless steel, porcelain, ceramic, glass, copper, brass, chrome, tile, grout, ceramic, glass, copper, brass, chrome, tile, grout and fiberglass.

Whether you’re dealing with rust, mineral deposits, soap scum or baked-on grease, BKF is up to the task.

One of the most attractive aspects of BKF is its affordability. This cleaning product is budget-friendly, available in powder and liquid forms. A typical container of BKF powder costs just $2 or $3 and can last for months, depending on your household’s size and how frequently you use the product. You can find BKF in the cleaning products aisle at supermarkets, Target and Walmart, as well as on Amazon.

So, is BKF the right choice for your cleaning needs? Here are a few factors to consider:

— Cleaning Preferences: If you prefer a versatile, multipurpose cleaner that can tackle a wide range of stains and surfaces, BKF is an excellent option.

— Safety Concerns: If you have young children or pets in the home, you may have reservations about using a product that contains oxalic acid. While generally safe when used as directed, it’s essential to take appropriate precautions and store BKF out of reach of curious hands and paws.

— Budget: If you’re looking for an affordable cleaning solution that delivers exceptional results without breaking the bank, BKF is hard to beat.

— Environmental Impact: If you’re concerned about the environmental impact of your cleaning products, you’ll be pleased to know that BKF is biodegradable, does not contain phosphates or chlorine bleach, and it is safe for septic systems.

— BKF Label Cautions: “May etch or dull delicate surfaces. Test a small, hidden area first. Rub extra gently on fiberglass, plastic, anodized aluminum, and brushed metal surfaces such as appliance exteriors. Always rub in the direction of the brush lines. DO NOT USE ON: gold, silver (sterling silver is OK), polished stone, or surfaces that are lacquered, painted, or mirrored.”

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Mary Hunt

Mary invites you to visit her at EverydayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/contact/, "Ask Mary." Tips can be submitted at tips.everydaycheapskate.com/ . This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."

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