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How to Clean a Stainless Steel Outdoor Water Bowl

July 6, 2022

I learned how to clean a stainless steel outdoor water bowl this weekend. It was easier than I thought it might be because, as you can see in the photo, it was nasty. I didn’t know if it could be saved or not. It’s a heated water bowl, which I should’ve taken better care of. Regardless, BKF  Stainless Steel Cleaner to the rescue.

We have several outdoor feral cats that live in the woods behind our home. Three were born there seven years ago. It’s the only place they’ve lived. But they’re not our cats. They’re ferals. We’ve named them, spayed them, and feed them twice daily. We gave them heated huts and a heated water bowl, but like I said, they’re not our cats.


I had unplugged the bowl earlier in the spring, replaced it with a non-heated stainless steel bowl, and then set it aside. I meant to clean it. It was on my to-do list. I didn’t think it could get so nasty in only a few months, but it did. By the time I got around to cleaning it on the 4th of July weekend, I wondered if it was too far gone. I hoped not, stainless steel heated water bowls don’t come cheap.

How to Clean a Stainless Steel Outdoor Water Bowl


The first thing I did was place it in the middle of the yard, set the water hose on jet, and sprayed the heck out of it. That removed some of the grime but not the toughest stuff. I still wondered if it was salvageable. Next, I wiped it dry with an old soft cloth. When I did this, I could feel the grime. It was like it was etched into the stainless steel. Once again, the thought crossed my mind that my efforts might be futile, but I wasn’t ready to give up.

After I dried the water bowl, I heartily shook my spray can of BKF Stainless steel cleanser and covered the inside and out of the bowl with the foam. When it was covered, I took a cloth and wiped the foam in a circular motion, following the “grain” of the stainless steel. It got some of the deep grime up, but not all. So, I sprayed it again and then let it sit for several minutes. I knew leaving it on there was a chance of dulling the stainless steel, but what did I have to lose? Besides it was really good stainless steel. It wasn’t a cheap bowl.

It Could Be Saved! 

After taking my brush to it, I wiped it dry. It was then that I first realized the water bowl was salvable. I wasn’t done. I sprayed and wiped it two more times after that. There are still a few small spots, and I may go back to it, but all-in-all it looks pretty darn good. After I wiped it dry, I hung it in a safe spot in the garden shed. It will be ready for the kittens when the weather turns cold again. Now, I need to make sure I add cleaning the non-heated stainless steel bowl to my Autumn to-do list.


We’d love to hear from you about what you’ve salvaged with Bar Keepers Friend Products. If you take before and after images you can upload your photos here.


About the Author 

Randy Clark is a speaker, coach, and author. He publishes a weekly blog at Randy Clark Randy is passionate about social media, leadership development, and flower gardening. He’s a beer geek, and on weekends (after COVID-19), he can be found fronting the Rock & Roll band Under the Radar. He’s the proud father of two educators; he has four amazing grandchildren and a wife who dedicates her time to helping others. Randy is the author of the Amazon bestseller The New Manager’s Workbook: A crash course in effective management.

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