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Cream Of Tartar Uses: 13 Practical Tips

You can use cream of tartar for a variety cleaning tasks.

You might have a bottle of it in your cupboard, but you might not realize just how many cream of tartar uses can come in handy around the house! Cream of tartar, or potassium bitartrate, makes a useful addition to cooking and baking recipes (angel food cake, anyone?), but its acidity also makes it an excellent cleaner.

In this post, you’ll learn 13 ways that cream of tartar makes an excellent household helper!

You probably have a bottle of cream of tartar in your pantry, and there are a lot of uses for cream of tartar!

Cream Of Tartar In Baking Recipes

Cream of tartar begins as tartaric acid, which is formed as a byproduct of the winemaking process. This acidic powder goes a long way in recipes — just a teaspoon of cream of tartar can help stabilize whipped mixtures that have a tendency to wilt, like meringues and soufflés. Cream of tartar is also used in snickerdoodle and sugar cookies to ensure fluffy, chewy results.

And if you add a small amount of cream of tartar to baking soda, you’ll have an excellent baking powder substitute! Baking soda plus an acidic ingredient like cream of tartar releases carbon dioxide, creating a leavening agent that makes baked goods rise.

As long as it’s stored in a cool, dry location like your pantry, cream of tartar keeps almost indefinitely. (When in doubt, use your eyes and nose—if it’s white and powdery and smells tangy or acidic, it should be fine to use!)

15 Practical Uses For Cream Of Tartar Around The House

Sprinkle cream of tartar to deter ants.

1. Ant Deterrent

Use cream of tartar to deter ants from gathering on your driveway or sidewalks. Just sprinkle a bit of the powder around the areas where they congregate.

You can use cream of tartar to remove stains on laundry and carpets.

2. Stain Remover For Clothing And Carpets

Add enough lemon juice to a small dish of cream of tartar to make a paste, then apply the paste to clothing or carpet stains. Let it sit for an hour or two, then launder the item or blot it clean with a damp cloth. (This works particularly well on ink stains!)

Use cream of tartar to clean your kitchen sink.

3. All-Purpose Kitchen Cleaner

Make a paste of cream of tartar and white vinegar to make a great all-purpose kitchen cleaner. Use it to clean aluminum pots and pans, burner pans, grout lines, or your oven or sink. Store the mixture in a squeeze bottle for easy application.

Use cream of tartar to help get out ring around the collar.

4. Erase Collar Stains

Makeup, lotion, sunscreen, and other products often leave behind oily residues on shirt collars. To remove those oily stains, dampen the collar with water and sprinkle a bit of cream of tartar over the area. Scrub the powder into the stain with an old toothbrush, then launder the shirt as usual.

Use cream of tartar to scrub scratches off your dishes.

5. Restore Scratched Dishes

Make a paste of cream of tartar and water and use it to scrub away scratches or stains on your dishes. Simply apply the paste, scrub with your fingers or a sponge, and rinse with water.

You can use cream of tartar to clean coffee pots.

6. Coffee Pot Cleaner

Clean stains and old coffee residue out of your coffee pot by sprinkling cream of tartar inside. Add boiling water to fill the pot, let the water cool to room temperature, then drain the water and rinse well.

Add cream of tartar to baking soda to make baking powder.

7. Make Baking Powder

Making your own baking powder is as easy as mixing 1 part baking soda with 2 parts cream of tartar. As an added bonus, the resulting baking powder will be fully gluten free, unlike some store-bought brands.

Cream of tartar makes an excellent stainless steel polish.

8. Shine Stainless Steel

Clean and shine your stainless steel appliances around the kitchen with cream of tartar. Add 1 cup of white vinegar and 1/4 cup of cream of tartar to a small bowl and mix well. Dip a sponge into the mixture, scrub your stainless steel, then wipe clean with a damp cloth. Buff with a dry microfiber cloth until shiny.

Use cream of tartar to remove rust.

9. Remove Rust

You can remove rust from metal by mixing up 1/4 cup baking soda, 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar, and just enough hydrogen peroxide to form a paste. Apply the mixture to a rust spot, let it sit for 30 minutes, then wipe the surface clean.

Cream of tartar will polish your copper.

10. Clean Up Copper

Clean and brighten copper pots and pans with a mixture of 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Rub the mixture onto the copper surface, then wipe clean with a damp cloth.

A traditional use for cream of tartar is to stabilize recipes with eggs to keep them from collapsing.

11. Egg White Stabilizer

When making meringue, add 1/8 teaspoon of cream of tartar per every 2 egg whites in your recipe. The acid from the cream of tartar helps to stabilize the egg whites and preserve those all-important air bubbles.

You can use cream of tartar to brighten laundry.

12. Brighten White Clothes And Linens Bright

To keep your white clothes and linens bright, fill your sink with lukewarm water and add 1 teaspoon cream of tartar for each quart of water. Soak your whites in the solution for a half hour or so before laundering as usual.

You can even use cream of tartar to touch up your toilet bowl!

13. Toilet Touchups

Could your toilet bowl use a quick touchup? Sprinkle cream of tartar around the inside of the toilet bowl, then give it a quick scrub with your toilet brush. Flush to rinse.

Use cream of tartar in cooking water to keep your veggies bright and colorful.

14. Keep Cooked Veggies Colorful

Just a half teaspoon of cream of tartar in the cooking water will keep your steamed or boiled veggies bright and colorful. So much more appetizing!

Use cream of tartar with flour and salt to make homemade playdough.

15. Make Homemade Playdough

All you need is flour, salt, cream of tartar, water, food coloring, and some vegetable oil to make homemade play dough that will keep the kids amused for hours. Living Well Mom has a great recipe, and you can even add peppermint oil or other essential oils to make it smell wonderful too.

Some people who add cream of tartar to bath bomb recipes claim it makes them extra fizzy, but I haven’t personally tried it. If you give it a try, be sure to let me know how it goes!

Do you have any favorite uses for cream of tartar?

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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  • I used cream of tartar to remove a stained aluminum Presto canner. It was black on the bottom so I put some hot water in it and 2 or 3 teaspoons of cream of tartar and it removed the stain like magic!

  • Since finding you 8 (-/+) years ago, you have become my personal problem solver ! I trust any idea, formula, solution you have presented. It’s good to have someone like you on my side. Bless you!

  • I have used cream of tartar for many many years for cleaning. I’ve never baked with it. My son’s godmother taught me about using cream of tartar and this was 44 years ago.
    I don’t buy it very often because it isn’t cheap. However, once in a while I get a little container of it to clean my stainless sink and faucets. In Florida, the water has calcium in it and it leaves white deposits on the stainless. Cream of tartar made into a paste and left on overnight removes that stuff like nothing else can.
    I recently moved to a house in South Carolina and the bathtub didn’t look so good. The seller had renovated the house and made a mess while installing and grouting the shower tile. Thankfully there are two bathrooms so I didn’t have to worry about not being able to take a shower.
    I had to use a safety blade knife to remove the dry grout then scrubbed the tub with Barkeepers Friend to remove all the dirty areas and who knows when the last time the tub was cleaned anyway. Ugh. The next morning I bought the largest container of cream of tartar I could find, made a paste and smeared it all over the tub. I let it sit overnight and this afternoon I washed it out. The tub is nice and clean and bright. There are still a few little areas that look like rust but at least it isn’t dirt and grout. The tub is porcelain.
    Some people on Facebook had no idea that cream of tartar is a cleaning agent.

  • I read several years ago that the amount of cream of tartar added to homemade Snickerdoodle cookies would make them harder or softer, so you can make them whichever way you prefer.

  • I read that creme of tartar is excellent for getting rid of nicotine cravings for someone trying to quit. The recipe was 1/8 tsp to 1/4 tsp in 8 oz. of orange juice. Smokers need Vitamin C because smoking gets rid of it for you and you need the C. I don’t smoke, but some in my family do and I know cravings for nicotine are hard to resist.

    • I have smokers in my family too. Didn’t know they are lacking in Vitamin C. Does it have to be 1/8 to 1/4 tsp cream of tarter or can we use arrow root powder?

  • My husband has had problems with kidney stones. He discovered that if you take 1 tsp of cream of tartar in 1/2 cup of water every morning you can dissolve small stones before they develop into problem stones. Cream of tartar is available in the bulk department of most health food stores. For those of you that do not know what cream of tartar is… It is the residue found at the bottom of the vats when they make wine. So if you are allergic to grapes you might want to be careful with ingesting cream of tartar.

  • Some of these applications are similar to uses for baking soda or baking soda and hydrogen peroxide you’ve shared. It would be interesting to see a comparison of how they both work.

  • I never knew you could use it for cleaning coffee pots. When i was in high school, working at McDonald’s, we cleaned the coffee pots with ice and salt. That’s the way i have done it ever since. Will keep this in mind though. Thanks for all the great tips/ideas.

    • I worked in the hospitality industry for over 20 years, and the lemon/salt combo was the only way I’ve ever cleaned a coffee pot because of that. It’d be great to try the cream of tartar just for something that doesn’t flash me back, lol.

  • I just saw an article of FB using 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar with 1/2 lemon juice, some salt to a glass of water and drink it every day for a week to cleanse your adrenal glands and help bodily inflammation.
    Is it ok to drink it like this?

      • The recommended amount of potassium per day for “adequate amount” for an adult is 2600 mg.. One teaspoon of Cream of tartar has about 500 mg., so the 1/4 tsp would be about 125 mg.
        Persons taking certain medications or with kidney disease need to use caution. There are certain foods that are higher in potassium also, a banana has about 422 mg.

    • I used it as needed when I was treating adrenal fatigue. This recipe was developed by a chiropractic doctor. The recipe I used had orange juice rather than lemon. The reason that it helps the adrenal glands is the combination of vit, C, sodium and potassium.

  • I have a tip for the play dough recipe. You’re better off cutting that salt amount down to a quarter cup. It’s all you need. The salt is what makes the dough gritty and leaves that gross film on hands. Another good idea for those who can trust their kids not to eat the dough is using 1/4 c of baby powder and only 3/4 c of flour. The dough feels so soft with that substitution. I also use baby oil instead of vegetable.

    • RE: Debbie’s remark. I’ve never used CoT. If you used it for canker sores (I’m guessing a tiny amount), I wonder how or if it would work for skin tags? I have a set of tiny measuring spoons – 1/8, 1/4, a pinch and something else. Maybe I’ll try a pinch with some water for a paste and put it on one tag. It can’t burn any worse than what the dermatologist uses!!!

  • Jillee,
    Another use for cream of tartar is to remove stains in pots. I don’t recall all the details like how much to use, if you boil the water, and for how long. I did try this many years ago and it worked! Maybe someone could fill in the blanks?
    Thank you for all the useful tips!
    Amy

    • My pressure cooker canner turned black on the bottom inches, could not get it out. Put 2 quarts of water in with 2 tablespoons cream of tartar, lid and regulator on, bring pressure up to 15, take off, let sit 3 hours, take regulator and lid off, totally spotless, totally amazed.

  • Hey ladies, there’s still a print option. I had overlooked it also. There’s the face book symbol in blue, pintrest in red, email in gray, then the printer symbol in green. It’s at the end of the blog, just above Have You Checked Out These Good Things?

  • Cream of tartar is expensive. I can’t imagine using it in some of these applications which would require half a spice jar full. It doesn’t make economic sense….

  • Jillee

    What happened to your “print” option on your website? It was such a great thing you added to your site. I found it perfect to printing your incredible informational articles.

    • There’s a print button at the bottom of the post, but before the comments. It’s a green, square button towards the right with a printer on it! :-)

      • I promise it’s there! It’s a smaller button, but it’s light green and has a picture of a printer on it. At the end of the post, there is a long image, and at the bottom of that image – you’ll find the print button! It’s the last button in a row of square, colorful buttons for Pinterest, Facebook, email, and then print. :-)

      • Jillee, your webmaster really needs to do a deep dive into the printer button problem. I have tried 4 different search engines and only one of them allowed the green print button to appear.

      • Hi Nancy – would you mind sending me an email at jill@byjillee.com and tell me which browsers you tried and which one worked? I would love to get this fixed. Thanks!

  • In an attempt to go “less processed”….I always see recipes with aluminum free baking powder. Would the soda/CoT be an aluminum free option? Never have understood how it got into baking powder! Thanks Jillee…you rock!

    • I could be wrong, but my understanding is that the ingredient aluminum-something is an anti-caking agent, or some other preservative. I’ve been using this formula for a few years. Works just as well. Just crumble any lumps before measuring, and make it in smaller batches than you’d buy in a store.

  • In looking on amazon, when citric acid popped up, which I have a big bag of, I found out this can be used as a substitute for cream of tartar. This is a very helpful link: https://www.answers.com/Q/Can_citric_acid_be_used_instead_of_cream_of_tartar

    “It is roughly four times as strong, so you have to reduce the amount used by four. If your recipe calls for a teaspoon of cream of tartar, use 1/4 teaspoon citric acid.
    However if it only calls for a pinch — for instance when you’re making meringue — then you can use a pinch of citric acid in place of a pinch of cream of tartar.”

    I use citric acid to make foods more sour, such as bread, to make it taste like sourdough without having to nurse sourdough starter. Now I will have many more uses for it. You can get 2 lbs. of citric acid for 10.59, one price, so definitely less than buying cream of tartar. $ .33 per ounce, and you won’t have to use as much either.

  • These are great ideas. anyone had any success with using cream of tartar on collar stains. My white work shirts get these stain. They are very hard to remove.

  • How toxic is cream of tartar to household pets, i.e. cats? I have been spending my last few days wiping my cupboards down with white vinegar to stop ants from coming in. We have two cats so I must be careful of them, also this is the food cupboard, so have to avoid contaminating food.
    Some great ideas!

    • CoT is less toxic to cats than coffee, avocados, chocolate, baking soda, or canned tuna. It would cause some gastric distress due to the extreme dryness of eating a lot of powder in the unlikely event that a kitty found it even remotely appealing to snack on. The wipe down residue is tiny and a bit safer than vinegar so you should be good. And it IS a food so it’s appropriate for a food cabinet.
      Jillee, you are awesome.

  • Wow! Wow! I’m scrubbing my grout lines with a toothbrush trying to bring them back to normal. I’m with MustloveDawgs, where can we buy large quantities? Those little jars would bankrupt me.

  • If you have a pan with burned on food that you can’t even chisel out, just sprinkle with some cream of tartar and enough water to bring to a boil. After a few minutes, remove pan and let it sit until cool. Like magic, the burned on food can easily be washed away!
    This is what works when everything else fails!

  • My mother taught me long ago to use cream of tartar if you are making a pan gravy from your meat drippings. After scamming off as much fat as you can, stir in your flour and water mixture and whisk well. There is always a bit of fat that does not want to blend in. Add a couple of dashes of cream of tartar and like magic the fat is blended into the gravy. Just don’t add too much as it will taste somewhat bitter. A little goes a long way…probably only about one quarter to half a teaspoon total.
    Love all the hints you come up with and the recipes for the make it yourself cleaning products. I am now using several of them.

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