So I’ve been caught. I gave conflicting advice. I’m sorry.
*gasp* goes the readership
In one post I suggest using Bar Keepers Friend on acrylic surfaces and in a more recent post I suggest only following your manufacturer’s advice at the risk of etching / scratching an acrylic surface.
So which is it, Heather, which is it?
Well, both. It depends on your manufacturer. That’s a big CMA*, I know.
*I didn’t say the word, am I still in trouble? Are you pursing your lips and shaking your head in a disappointed fashion at me?
Let’s talk about acrylic:
When we’re in the bathroom -metaphorically, I’m not going to be standing outside the water closet and harassing you while you do your business- and we say “acrylic” we actually mean “acrylic resin.”
So what’s acrylic resin?
a glassy thermoplastic made by polymerizing acrylic acid or methacrylic acid or a derivative of either and used for cast and molded parts or as coatings and adhesives
Ooh, look at that, it’s not that specific, is it? Polymerizing is the process by which you turn monomers (the basic molecule) into a polymer (a chain of the basic molecule).
If all acrylic resins were made of the same polymer you’d get a specific chemical formula for that answer. Since we don’t have one chemical formula and if I’m not mistaken, each manufacturer is going to have a proprietary formula. Some will be more impervious than others. The good news is many manufacturers have a list of approved cleaning products on their websites or are happy to help when you call their consumer hotlines.
So my answer is as follows:
When used properly, Bar Keepers Friend SHOULD be safe for your acrylic surfaces. However, you must follow the directions for use completely, up to and including rinsing thoroughly when finished. Additionally, before using Barkeepers Friend on your acrylic fixtures, check with your manufacturer’s recommendations to prevent damaging the surface.
And here is another point to consider:
Do not scrub the dry BKF into your acrylic surface.
Wait, wait, what?! I thought that’s what it was for?
When using BKF on surfaces, such as acrylic, you want to make sure the surface is already wet. Apply the BKF. Now give the BKF a little time to dissolve into solution -oh my word, will she stop with the chemistry already?- Once the oxalic acid is in solution it can get to work. When you are removing things like soap scum from the surface of your tub, you really want the chemical energy to do the work for you. Remember when we’re cleaning we use several kinds of energy to accomplish our goal:
- chemical energy,
- thermal (heat) energy
- and physical energy
Remember, with great power, comes great responsibility.
Each of these energies brings with it the potential to damage your surface, so proceed with caution. If you sprinkled dry Bar Keepers Friend onto your surface and attacked it with a sponge or rag, you have the potential to scratch the ever loving snot out of your tub (yes, that is the technical term). If you applied the Bar Keepers Friend to a damp acrylic surface and forgot about it completely, there is a chance, albeit small, that the acid reaction could do more than remove soap scum. Heat really isn’t an issue in our bathtub scenario, unless you break out a propane torch, but that seems a little excessive, no?
Good luck and I hope this helped!
Submit your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.