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Chefs, restaurant workers and more swear by this $8 cleaning powder — and so do I

The pros love it for a reason.
Courtesy Emma Stessman

Almost everyone has at least one well-loved baking sheet in their house. You know the one I'm talking about. It's the one you reach for every time you're roasting vegetables or baking cookies. You can't really remember when you got it, but you do know that it definitely looks a little different than when it first entered your kitchen.

I'm a little ashamed to say that I have quite a few baking sheets and other pieces of cookware that meet that description. And a lack of care and proper cleaning techniques have left many of them looking worse for the wear, complete with stains and hard-to-remove burn marks.

In fact, some of my cookware has reached the point where many people might consider tossing them. I had previously tried a range of solutions to get them clean. So as a last ditch effort, I decided to try to get rid of some of the deep set stains using Bar Keepers Friend, a cleaning staple with some impressive before-and-after images that I have popped up on my TikTok For You Page.

Bar Keepers Friend Powder Cleanser

It's been around for over 100 years

According to the brand, chemist George William Hoffman created an oxalic acid-based cleaning powder during the 1880s and sold it to taverns as brass rail polish. It worked so well that they gave it its catchy name, "Bar Keepers Friend." And while the ingredients and packaging have changed a bit, the product is essentially the same.

Designed to be used on stainless steel, aluminum, brass, tile, ceramic and other surfaces, the brand says that the powder formula can cut through grease, rust, hard water stains and more, making it perfect for cleaning in the kitchen.

On TikTok, where the product has more than 163 million views, I had seen impressive results on old baking sheets and pans, so I had pretty high hopes for mine.

The first time I tried it on one of my well-loved baking sheets, I followed the instructions on the label, sprinkling it across the surface and lightly rubbing with a damp sponge. And I was upset to see that the results were pretty minimal. But I knew I had seen people who had serious success using the product on social media, so I turned back to TikTok for help.

Courtesy Emma Stessman

There, I learned from a few videos that the key is to sprinkle it on a damp surface, rub it lightly all over the area to spread it around as it turns into a paste and then let it sit for at least 30 minutes before scrubbing. And that's when I really started to see its magic.

On my nonstick pan, which had minimal staining compared to the baking sheet, it only took about five minutes of scrubbing for all of the stains to come off and the steel bottom to be shining again.

As for the baking sheet, I'm not going to lie, the stains didn't come off easily. It did require a fair amount of elbow grease. But as soon as I started, I could see that it was actually working better than the other cleaning products that I had tried before, so I kept scrubbing.

To get optimal results, I followed the TikTok-recommended prep process and then scrubbed pretty aggressively for about 10 minutes. Then, I added more product, let it sit and scrubbed again for another five. Obviously, it wasn't a miraculous transformation — there'a still a fair amount of staining left. But considering how stained it was, and how long it had been that way, I was pretty impressed by the results.

Courtesy Emma Stessman

It's a restaurant industry secret

While I first heard about the product on social media, anyone who has worked in the restaurant industry likely already knows about the product and probably even used it themselves. More than 13,000 shoppers have given the formula a five-star rating on Amazon, and of those people, many have said that they found out about it through chefs, restaurant employees, and, yes, bar owners, too.

"My son (a chef) recommended this," another person added. "Can’t believe I lived this long without it. Stovetop sparkling, pots looking like new. It takes a little elbow grease the first time (depending on how bad your stuff is, mine was pretty bad), but it CLEANED IT. And now quick swipes and they STAY clean. I’m amazed."

Ultimately, if it's good enough for the pros, it's certainly good enough for me. And with my personal experience verifying its impressive results, I have a good feeling your cookware will benefit from this product, too.

Below, we're sharing some of the other beloved cleaning products that our team has tried and loved.

More tried-and-true cleaning products

The Pink Stuff

I previously tried this viral product on another one of my nonstick pans and was equally amazed by the results. So much so that I used it to clean a variety of other surfaces in my home, from my walls to my white sneakers.

Shadazzle Natural All Purpose Cleaner and Polish

A former writer for Shop TODAY used this all-purpose polish on her sink and said that it took off residue and hard water stains, leaving it looking like new. And she's not the only fan of the polish — it has more than 2,600 five-star ratings from Amazon shoppers.

Wet & Forget Shower Cleaner

Hate cleaning your shower? So do I. Thankfully, one of our writers discovered this simple, spray-on solution that doesn't require you to scrub so hard your arms ache.

"Now that I’m satisfied with my tub and the stains are way less noticeable, I’m going to use the cleaning solution once a week as recommended — and finally enjoy those no-scrub perks. With weekly use, I’m confident I’ll be able to keep the soap scum and grime at bay," she wrote.