7 Surprising Things You Can Clean with Cream of Tartar

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Many of us have cream of tartar in our cabinets, an infrequently used ingredient for baking that we break out about twice a year. I always just assumed it was some kind of mineral, but recently learned it’s actually an acidic byproduct of the wine-making process. Like other tasteless baking tools (looking at you, baking soda and yeast!) its main role in cooking is to create chemical reactions: stabilizing egg whites, activating baking soda, and preventing sugar crystals among them.

And interestingly, those same chemical properties can help in cleaning! Here are seven things you can clean with cream of tartar.

1. Stainless steel surfaces

Use the acidic-yet-gentle scrub to your advantage: Dip a cloth in water, sprinkle a little cream of tartar onto the cloth, and use it to spot-clean stainless steel surfaces like small appliances or pots.

2. Aluminum pans

Make a paste of cream and tartar and either water or hydrogen peroxide to clean stained aluminum pans — just dip a microfiber cloth or sponge into it to rub off stains.

(Image credit: Erika Tracy)

3. Copper pots

Combine cream of tartar with lemon juice or white vinegar to make an acidic, abrasive paste that can shine up copper pots and kettles.

4. Brass candlesticks

Using the same method as you would for copper, use a cream of tartar paste made with lemon juice or vinegar to brighten brass candlesticks or utensils.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

5. Scratched dishes

If you have scratch marks on your well-used plates, you can buff them out with cream of tartar. Sprinkle a generous amount over the surface of your dish. Then add a few drops of water and rub gently with a wet dishcloth. Let it sit for a minute or two, scrub, and wash the plate with soap and water.

6. Stained kitchen linens

If your dish towels are starting to look a little dingy, brighten them with cream of tartar: Soak them overnight in a mix of 1 teaspoon cream of tartar for every quart of water, then launder as usual.

7. Rusty kitchen tools

To remove rust from kitchen tools like can openers or cheese graters, make a paste of cream of tartar and hydrogen peroxide and let it sit on the stain for a few hours, then scrub off the rust.

Do you have anything to add? How else do you use cream of tartar for non-baking projects?