10 Uses for Cream of Tartar That Don't Involve Cooking

By: Alia Hoyt  | 
Cream of tartar
Cream of tartar is a commonly used item in the kitchen, but it's usefulness goes way beyond cooking and baking. Michelle Lee Photography/Shutterstock

Savvy chefs no doubt have a box of powdery white cream of tartar lying around the kitchen pantry. The organic acid (also known as potassium bitartrate) is a beloved staple for anyone who dabbles in making souffl├ęs, meringues, jams, jellies, candies and many baked goods.

Cream of tartar actually occurs naturally in many plants and is a natural byproduct of the winemaking process. Its most well-known skills are obviously cooking-related since cream of tartar is an adept stabilizing agent. Indeed, it adds texture, volume and occasionally creaminess to certain food products, but it is particularly known for its ability to help stiffen egg whites.

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Although cream of tartar clearly excels in churning out fluffy baked goods, the substance is also used as an additive to control the pH levels (basicity or acidity) of products, prevent microorganisms like bacteria from growing and keep foodstuffs from getting all lumpy thanks to excessive moisture.

However, like many other pantry regulars (ahem, baking soda and vinegar), cream of tartar's skillset is anything but limited to making tasty treats. Here are a few of our favorite alternative uses for this versatile ingredient.

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1. Keeping Ants Away

People don't like ants inside the home, but they also don't like harsh insecticides where they eat, sleep and breathe. Cream of tartar is a happy way to split the difference. Simply drizzle a line of the white stuff in the area where you suspect the insects are gaining entry. They'll turn around automatically to avoid it.

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2. Making Bath Bombs

DIY bath bombs are all the rage and show no sign of slowing down. Although you can make bath bombs with a variety of ingredients, including citric acid, cornstarch and more, cream of tartar is arguably the best at hardening them. It also makes the bombs extra fizzy, according to this recipe.

Cream of tartar is the ingredient that makes those DIY bath bombs harden and fizzy.
Cream of tartar is the ingredient that makes those DIY bath bombs harden and fizz.
Daria_Cherry/Shutterstock

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3. Unclogging Drains

Combined with baking soda, salt and boiling water, cream of tartar is a powerful drain de-clogger. The first two ingredients are pros at destroying materials that cause clogs, and the cream of tartar cleans up metal to an impressive shine. The boiling water, poured on top of the mixture, helps them do their jobs to the fullest.

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4. Removing Stains

Out of spray stain remover? Don't fret too much, because a little bit of cream of tartar will go a long way toward tackling that stain. Just sprinkle some onto the new, damp stain, then launder the garment as usual. Repeat if necessary.

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5. Whitening Laundry

Speaking of stains, sometimes even the most well-bleached garments get a little yellow in spots. Fight this discoloration by spritzing the affected area with water. Then, apply powdered cream of tartar, rub it in and allow it to soak. Launder as you normally would and repeat as needed.

Ring around the collar is gross. But you can use cream of tartar to get rid of that dingy stain.
Ring around the collar is gross, but you can use cream of tartar to get rid of that dingy discoloration.
Canan Asik/Shutterstock

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6. Clearing Up Skin

This one is just a rumor, but many people swear by cream of tartar's ability to clear up acne. It's probably not far off base since the product is known for being antimicrobial. Anyway, it certainly won't hurt your skin if you just mix it with water a little and apply directly to blemishes.

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7. Cleaning Your Coffee Pot

Old coffee leaves a nasty residue in your coffee pot and in your favorite coffee mugs. Just sprinkle some cream of tartar in any with stains, add boiling water and let the water chill to room temp and then rinse. The coffee stains should be long gone.

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8. Getting Rid of Rust

Thanks to its metal-cleaning properties, cream of tartar is a great option for those who want to get rid of rust. Mix it up with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide, then apply it to the affected metal. Allow it to soak for at least an hour, then wipe it with a damp cloth. Repeat as needed.

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9. Easing Constipation

A little bit of cream of tartar is also said to act as a laxative, effectively easing constipation. However, it's also a diuretic, so it can cause dehydration if used excessively. So, maybe just a smidge when the situation calls for it?

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10. Reinvigorating Aluminum Pots and Pans

Cream of tartar mixed with vinegar makes an all-natural paste that's aces at breathing new life into old aluminum pots and pans. Apply the paste to the pan, then allow it to set for at least an hour, longer if possible. Scrub the pan and watch the caked-on food, grime and other detritus disappear. Rinse well in warm, soapy water.

Use cream of tartar to help get those pots and pans gleaming and clean.
Use cream of tartar to help get those pots and pans gleaming and clean.
tab6 /Shutterstock

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