ZUD Heavy Duty Cleanser

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When all else fails, reach for the Zud, the mother of all powdered cleansers

Aug 24, 2006 (Updated Sep 7, 2006)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Cuts through rust, minerals, grease and more, powerful, non-chlorine based

Cons:Abrasive and must be used with care, sometimes difficult to find

The Bottom Line: When it comes to really serious cleaning and scouring I havenít yet found an equal to Zud.

Growing up we didn’t have powdered cleansers. We had scouring powder. Different times, gentler names! Not that any grocery list that I ever saw actually said “scouring powder.” They were usually referred to by their brand names. My mom would just jot down the name Babbo. Anyone remember Babbo and its early hokey TV commercials? Well it’s been a good number of years since the brand name Babbo has graced the supermarket shelf.

Today we have Ajax, Comet, Bon Ami, Barkeeper’s Friend and the mother of all scouring powders, Zud.

As much as I love Bar Keeper's Friend (BKF for short) for maintaining my Tramontina TriPly Stainless Cookware, professional knives and stainless steel sinks, there are times that call for stronger remedies. That’s when I call in the Zud.

If you’ve ever tried to remove scorched or time caked grease off the bottom of your pots and pans only to be rewarded with a sore arm or shoulder and a less than satisfactory result, it’s time to step it up a notch and reach for the Zud.

Zud is a scouring powder (OK, a powdered cleanser) usually found in the market or hardware store next to the Comet, Ajax, BKF and Bon Ami. Manufactured by Reckitt Benckiser of Parsippany, NJ it is the higher horsepower alternative to the rest of the pack.

So What’s the Difference?

Like Bar Keeper’s Friend, Zud derives it’s rust and mineral busting properties to Oxalic Acid though in a significantly higher concentration. Added to this is the superb combination of abrasives, pumice and finely ground quartz. When trying to cut through years of baked on crud or deeply imbedded mineral stains it’s hard to find a better, more effective formula. By contrast, BKF relies on a minimally abrasive mineral (probably feldspar) added to the Oxalic Acid and Citric Acid. So, while BKF is excellent at polishing at the same time it’s cleaning, it just plain lacks the crud cutting properties of Zud.

Cleaners such as Ajax and Comet rely more heavily on chlorine bleach and abrasives such as calcium carbonate and sodium carbonate in addition to powdered detergent. They may be excellent for getting food stains out of your porcelain sink or formica counter top, but rust and really scorched grease are beyond their ability. Bon Ami takes a more earth friendly approach, leaving out the chlorine bleach. Rather, it cleans by combining calcite with feldspar mineral abrasives and a biodegradable detergent. Mild and friendly it may be highly effective for general cleaning, but again another product that lacks the power for really serious scouring.

The Proof aka another Rudi Xeno story

Many years ago when I first started courting (or was it stalking) the ravishing Mrs. Xeno, I figured I might dazzle her with my culinary skills and decided to prepare a dinner for her at her place that romantically overlooked the Atlantic Ocean.

I pulled out some of her Farberware stainless cookware and as I placed it on the counter I could see that the bottoms of these pots were caked with years of burned on grease. Obviously, this fox of a woman had done some serious cooking. Bonus! Excellent! But what was somewhat baffling was that this evidence was curiously at odds with the current contents of her fridge, which now consisted of one apple and a half full bottle of Perrier.

Needless to say a major shop was in order if I was going to pull this evening off. So I shopped, then cooked, we ate over candle light, then…..well let’s just leave it at that. But, we did fall in love, eventually marry and her pots became my pots. What’s that? Oh no, no, no, no! You really didn’t think I cleaned those pots before our romantic evening did you? No, that would wait another few years.

One early morning a few years later I gathered all her disgusting pots and pans – you can tell we were married by then can’t you? Wetting each pot I sprinkled some Zud on their bottoms. After about a minute I took a green little plastic scrubby and went to work. With amazingly little effort years of grease and lord knows what else disappeared in short order. The whole job was over before the good lady stirred. The pots and pans looked hardly used.

Fast Forward to Present

These days it almost seems like we’re living in a stainless steel environment. Zud, predictably is a staple cleaning product in the Xeno household. Zud is also excellent for removing rust and those blue/green mineral stains from porcelain sinks and tubs. Again, a little Zud applied to a wet plastic scrubby and this product works its magic with a relative minimum of effort. When used on fiberglass, plastics and countertops very light scrubbing is recommended. I find it incredibly useful for removing dried latex and oil based paints from laminates such as flooring and formica.

I generally purchase it in my local Publix Supermarket for approximately $1.99 for a 16 oz. can.

But Caution

As in all aspects of life, power has to be wielded with care. The quartz and pumice abrasives in Zud make it ill suited for use on mirrored stainless surfaces. This is a job far more suited for Bar Keeper’s Friend. I save the Zud for pot bottoms and satin finishes where the powerful abrasives will leave no noticeable scratches.

But a far more important issue is to heed the warning not to mix this product with other household chemicals. This is particularly important with regard to chlorine bleach. The combination of an acid with sodium hypochlorite (bleach) can result in free chlorine and a potentially fatal result. Several years ago when powdered cleansers first started including bleach to their formulas, the then common practice of mixing cleansers with ammonia was responsible for some very serious accidents. It is important to read and heed cautions on household cleaners and chemicals.

Summing Up

When it comes to really serious cleaning and scouring I haven’t yet found an equal to Zud. Used as directed Zud is a safe and incredibly effective solution for difficult stains and grease build up on most hard surfaces. This reviewer recommends it highly.

Thanks to Helen for so quickly adding this product to the database



©Rudi Xeno 2006

Recommend this product? Yes

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