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My glass cooktop cleaner has abrasive materials and other components which are very effective when cleaning the hob: grease, burnt and solid stuff...

I thought this could be used to clean and polish pots too. I tried with an old pot and the results look amazing (I didn't take a picture before, but it didn't look like that at all):

enter image description here

The question is: is it safe to use?

While rubbing I could see the abrasive material's effect: once the grease and rust was gone the cloth started becoming gray like the pot, presumably from the steel particles that were being removed. I made sure to clean it up a couple of times with water and soap to remove all those particles, so I guess that would not be a problem. But maybe other components could damage the pot in the long term, or worse, be unsafe for cooking?

Update (ingredients)

  • <5% Nonionic surfactants
  • Perfumes
  • Limonene
  • Benzisothiazolinone
  • Methylchloroisothiazolinone
  • Methylisothiazolinone
  • 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1.3-diol

The sticker literally says "Among other things", so I hope they are harmless if they are allowed to omit them. :-D

  • If you're worried about chemical interactions, then we need a list of ingredients for the cleaner you used. – Johanna May 23 '20 at 16:32
  • @Johanna Yeah, that makes a lot of sense, thanks! I updated the question with the information on the sticker. I asked without providing this information in case this products usually had same/similar composition and because I had to look for the translation of each ingredient... ^^ – Peque May 23 '20 at 17:12
  • The brand name here would help as well. – FuzzyChef May 23 '20 at 19:43
  • @FuzzyChef Thanks! I added a link on top of the question to the specific product. Although I don't think it will be very useful since there is not much information in the webpage (and it is in Spanish). Also, most probably, it is not a recognizable brand outside of Spain. ^^ – Peque May 23 '20 at 20:05
  • Hmmm. So that cleaner seems to have neither abrasives, nor strong bases in it. How, exactly is it cleaning? Those chemicals are all antimicrobial agents, except limonene, which is a weak surfacant. – FuzzyChef May 23 '20 at 22:23
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It depends on the abrasive.

In the USA, there is a class of "soft abrasives" designed for effective scrubbing while not scratching cookware and barware. This includes the brands Bon Ami and Barkeeper's Friend. These, and abrasives like them, can be used on most cookware, and certainly on any kind of steel.

Harsher abrasives, such as Comet Bleach Powder and Ajax, are designed for cleaning porcelain and will scratch most cookware and even some kinds of glass. You can use them on anodized aluminum coated cookware, because the coating is basically corundum (and this a hardness of 8). However, even for these, harsh abrasives will wear down the coating over the years, eventually stripping it off (based on my personal experience).

The cleaner you linked to is probably fine for steel, since it contains no harsh base chemicals; the strongest surfactant is limonene. The only thing that would make it not-safe would be a silica-based or corundum-based scrubbing agent.

Please also see discussion in the comments regarding calcium carbonate as a scrubbing agent, and why Comet and Ajax are harsh (because of strong basic chemicals).

  • Interesting. Thanks for your answer! ^^ I have seen, from the links you shared, that both Comet Bleach Powder and Ajax have "Calcium carbonate" as their first ingredient (presumably the abrasive component). I saw this video where the guy uses exactly that for cleaning his pans. Would you really recommend not using calcium carbonate? Or is it another ingredient that makes Comet Bleach Powder or Ajax too harsh? Note that Bon Ami's powder cleanser has calcium carbonate. Both Bon Ami and BKF have feldspar, which may be the softer abrasive? – Peque May 23 '20 at 20:29
  • I don't think the calcium carbonate is the issue; pure CaCO3 (otherwise known as Baking Soda) is fine for scrubbing just about anything. It's soft in a mineral sense, and completely safe; I've even used it on cast iron. I think it's more that the extremely strong bases in the harsh cleansers cause some kind of reaction that make a lot of surfaces easier to scratch. – FuzzyChef May 23 '20 at 21:05
  • In fact, here's a link that supports that theory (that the strong bases are what damages the steel surface): plumbingsupply.com/stainlesssteelsinkcare.html – FuzzyChef May 23 '20 at 21:06
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    Thanks again for the information! ^^ Isn't baking soda sodium bicarbonate? (not calcium carbonate) Is there an "informal/familiar" name for calcium carbonate in English? – Peque May 23 '20 at 23:31
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    Thanks for your answer! For a more complete answer, consider adding the comment about the antimicrobial agents and limonene (the weak surfactant), as well as the information about why some products are harsher than others and why calcium carbonate and feldspar are weak abrasives that will not ruin your pots. If you want, of course! ^^ Otherwise upvote this comment so that others may read it and spend some time reading the discussion, which I think it is worth it in this case. – Peque May 25 '20 at 14:56
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I would not worry about use of abrasives on stainless steel cookware, especially fine abrasives such as found in cleaning products. I might not go around scrubbing my stainless steel pots with crushed basalt or anything like that, but frankly even that is likely at most to only leave unsightly scratches that don't really affect the performance of the cookware.

A fine abrasive may rub off an exceedingly thin layer of metal. But I wouldn't expect this to significantly reduce the lifetime of the cookware, in terms of removing material.

More to the point, stainless steel is an alloy that is homogeneous throughout. If you remove a little bit, there is more right underneath that will soon oxidize and recreate the "passive" layer that makes the metal "stainless". There is a small possibility that surface contamination will interfere with the passivation process after you clean it, but in my experience this just doesn't happen with the stainless alloys used for cookware. And if it does, you can generally just scrub it again.

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