Most brands of dish soap are only effective at removing food residue and oils that sit on the surface of the steel. Stains that have fused to your cookware through excessive heat are a different, more difficult foe. You need an entire different cleaning product to tackle these stain.
How it works
The secret to removing tough stains from stainless steel cookware is a product called Bar Keeper's Friend. Rather than binding oils with soap, Bar Keeper's Friend uses an acid that won't harm stainless steel to dissolves stains. This is what sets it apart from anything you can buy at your grocery store.
Unlike dish soaps, Bar Keeper's Friend comes in powder form. To clean a pan, sprinkle a bit of power on the stains you want to remove, add a little water, and gently mix the powder into a slurry. Let the pan sit for 30 seconds to a minute, rinse, and check the results.
While the product description promises perfect results after only one application, I have found that two or even three applications are necessary to remove heavy stains. Gently scrubbing also seems to speed up the process. Doing all this still only takes a few minutes.
What is important, however, is that Bar Keeper's Friend eventually gets your stainless steel cookware looking great again. You don't need anything else. I was able to remove stains from one of my favorite pans left behind by boiling all the water away. This is one of those rare products that actually delivers what you want: clean stainless steel cookware.
What it can't do
As good as it is, Bar Keeper's friend is not a complete dish washing solution. You'll have to rely on your regular dish soap to get your cookware cookware clean after everyday use. Bar Keeper's Friend is your go-to product for removing tough stains, and for restoring the sheen of your cookware every once in a while. It also only works on stainless steel cookware, and has little effect on the burnt-on crud stuck to the underside of your cookware. For the powder to work well, the stain has be very thin.
Paired with a good dish soap, a single can of Bar Keeper's Friend goes a long way. You can clean dozens of pans. At the low price the product is going for, it is certainly worth a try.
- removes virtually all stains from stainless steel
- works very quickly
- takes very little effort
- one can lasts a long time
- paired with dish soap it is a complete cleaning solution
- tough stains take multiple applications
- can only be used on stainless steel
- only works on thin stains
- has no effect on the burnt on crud on the underside of cookware