Bar Keepers Friend

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A can of Bar Keepers Friend.

Bar Keepers Friend is a powdered cleaning agent produced since 1882. It was invented by a chemist in Indianapolis where it continues to be manufactured.[1] Trademark number 17,313 was filed on October 2, 1889 by George William Hoffman who asserted the name had been used since January, 1887.[2] It became the base of a line of cleaning products made by SerVaas Laboratories in Indianapolis, Indiana,[3] who started producing and carrying the product under the Bar Keepers Friend name in the 1950s.

Active ingredient[edit]

Unlike more abrasive cleaning powders such as Comet and Ajax, Bar Keepers Friend uses oxalic acid as its primary active ingredient.[4] A similar abrasive cleaning product, Zud Heavy Duty Cleanser, also contains oxalic acid.[5] Prolonged use and extended skin contact can cause skin peeling and contact dermatitis, which is avoided by wearing gloves.

Use and effectiveness[edit]

In 1994, Consumer Reports found Bar Keepers Friend to be on a par with Mr. Clean for removing baked-on soil, tea stains, and other pot stains, and better at removing rust.[4] While recommending Bar Keepers Friend for a variety of household cleaning uses, author Heather Solos warns that it should not be used to clean silverware, real marble, or pewter.[6]

The Bar Keepers Friend logo represents the swinging doors of a saloon. According to the President of SerVaas Laboratories, Paul SerVaas, although some people complained during Prohibition, "the name was never changed. It's been Bar Keepers Friend since 1882."

Off label uses of Bar Keepers Friend include removing the brown or yellow stains caused by Avobenzone containing sunscreen.[7]


  1. ^ "The Bar Keepers Friend Story". Retrieved July 6, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office". 49 (13). 1889: 1849. Retrieved 2015-03-30. 
  3. ^ Schouten, Cory (May 12, 2011). "Bar Keepers Friend parent lands new headquarters". Indianapolis Business Journal. Retrieved July 6, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Indiana Business Magazine, Friday, April 1, 1994
  5. ^ "Oxalic Acid from OTC Products". Retrieved 2015-03-31. 
  6. ^ Home-Ec 101: Using Bar Keepers Friend, February 18, 2009
  7. ^ "Sunscreen and Laundry Advice". Retrieved Sep 16, 2013. 

External links[edit]