May 5, 2014

a love story: barkeepers friend + me.

part one: 
NOT love at first sight

i have heard all kinds of hoopla about bar keepers friend for years. i even bought some about a year and a half ago, and after half-heartedly using it on a few things around my house, decided it was not a keeper. the nearly full bottle was one of things that got thrown out when we moved into our new house about a year ago.

part two:
second chances

jenny recently revived a vintage desk chair and used barkeepers friend and a pumice stone. i have a similar chair (vintage, chrome) that also has some rust on it....

i tried using some backing soda and steel wool, but i wasn't super impressed with the results.

 i decided to give barkeepers friend a try...

i bought the liquid form, and slathered it on my chair, making sure that i had some old towels and cardboard under it.

at first, i used the pumice stone, which was nice, but my chair has so many little nooks and crannies, and i knew i needed something more brush-like to reach into all those groves and details.

  i bought this wire brush that works with my drill, and it was amazing! i cannot tell you how much time it saved me. at first i was a little worried that it would dull the finish or scratch the chair, but it actually took off the rust, and even buffed the chair so that it was way shinier than before!

the combination of the bar keepers friend with the wire brush was the magic bullet for me. these two together removed nearly all of the rust (there are still a few small areas where the pitting was pretty bad), and really shined up my chair!
i had to admit, that i was falling in love!

part three:
i-truly, truly-love-you-and-i-dont-know-how-i-ever-lived-without-you!
(and why did i never realize how awesome you are?)

ok, well this is the part of the love story when i REALLY fell in love!
i have been avoided stripping my vintage desk for a long time. i purchased the desk about 8 years ago at an antique shop in hartselle, alabama. when i bought it, i knew it needed to be refinished.

i took this picture two weeks ago--you can see how badly the finish is damaged.

as you can see, the top of the desk had some pretty severe water staining on it--the entire left side had about a dozen little water marks. here is what it looked like after i stripped all the stain off:

on the right side there were also some water marks, but the biggest and most obvious culprit was this dark stain---

i did some research online that said that these dark watermarks can be removed with something called oxalic acid. apparently, this mild rhubarb-dervied bleach is available in crystal form. it needs to be dissolved in water, and then can be applied to the wood.

i watched a few very convincing you tube videos, and then set off to find me some oxalic acid!
easy, right?
i went to lowes, thinking for SURE they would have some. (NOPE.)
i showed the "wood and stain EXPERT" the picture of the dark stain on the desk top, hoping she would have some other ideas, and do you even want to know what she said?
sure you do.
because it was pretty awesome.
it a bad way.
she said.."you know---i think that might just be the grain of the wood...yeah. that's what it looks like. you know---that's probably not even a stain."

that is what it is like 47 shades darker than the rest of the wood.
and in the outline of a GLASS.
oh boy-eeeeeee.
the "expert" then tried to convince me to buy me a gallon jug of deck cleaner for $30, and i was like " i actually trust you less than my 10 year old son to advise me on wood stain removal. but thanks."
ok, i didn't actually say that, but i wanted to.

ANYWAY, i went back home and googled where i COULD find this elusive oxalic acid. it was easy to find a place to purchase it online, but i wanted it YESTERDAY. even if i had to drive across town to get it, i was convinced i would have some by the end of the day.
well, as i was researching oxalic acid, an article caught my eye that said that the active ingredient in bar keepers friend was OXALIC ACID!
of course i was super skeptical, so i tried seeing if i could find any pictures of of before and afters of people using this method....i am not gonna lie. there were only a few. and none of them very convincing, but i decided to give it a try.

here  is the dark stain before:

at first, i very cautiously dabbed just the stain with the barkeepers friend:

i was literally petrified that it would ruin the wood.
i only left it on for about a minute, but i could tell it had indeed lightened the stain.

i applied two more quick applications, and i then started worrying that there were going to be bleach marks on the wood where the barkeepers friend was applied, and so i mixed some water with my liquid barkeepers friend, and smeared it over the entire desk.

i let it sit for about 3 minutes, and could totally see that it was working to remove the other water stains! i applied one more all-over coat, and was AMAZED at what a difference it made!

here is the desk top, after the first coat of stain:

so, in short, here is what i learned:
barkeepers friend is really great at not only removing rust from metal, but it can also be used to remove water stains from WOOD.
and, i am now in love:


  1. You're too funny. You should be a screenwriter! But nonetheless, thanks for that golden nugget of info. I use bar keepers friend for regular stuff around the bathroom but I never have relied on it for my diy!! Thanks so much for your creativity! On-screen and off

  2. You're too funny. You should be a screenwriter! But nonetheless, thanks for that golden nugget of info. I use bar keepers friend for regular stuff around the bathroom but I never have relied on it for my diy!! Thanks so much for your creativity! On-screen and off

    1. ha!! i will keep the screenwriter thing in mind. you are too sweet! now i feel like there are so many other places i should be using this stuff!

  3. I use it all the time for my kitchen sink. The sink is so old and the surface has been so worn and is mostly gone. I am in a rental and except for the kitchen sink, the house is pretty wonderful. Anyway, soft scrub, ajax, all of my trusted cleaners would not remove stains (that appear the same day after I clean it because there is no surface on it). Bar Keepers Friend takes them all off, easily, every time. Glad to hear about more uses for the product.

  4. I am so happy that you now LOVE my best friend! I have had a long standing love affair with Bar Keepers Friend. Thank you for introducing me to an even deeper knowledge in this wonderful product!! xo, Emily

  5. Oh I love this stuff too. I use it all the time on everything. Great post and I love that desk.

  6. Okay, that's officially the cutest product review I've ever read!

  7. Fabulous! I've never used BKF. I'll have to get some. I am especially impressed with the desk! How did you strip the stain off the desk? Sanding? or using a chemical stripper? I have a vintage coffee table that needs refinishing on the top. It has two little burn marks on it that I need to lighten.

  8. Got to get some. I have some black water/moisture marks on a table that I need to attack. It's worth a try. Thanks for the info. The desk is going to be fabulous.

  9. Looks Great! Do you watch Rehab Addict.? she uses it a lot and is always recommending it for wood

  10. I know this is from last year's challenge and it's old news but, boy, I really love this room. Everything about it speaks to me: the color, the chair, the fabrics, the storage.... it's jewel-box perfection. I want to burrow in there and explore, then write a few emails. Perfection in a shoe box! I still come here to stare at it longingly....