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

By: Alia Hoyt  | 
A measuring spoon full of cream of tartar powder, with the jar in the background.
Cream of tartar is a commonly used item in the kitchen, but its 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 their kitchen pantries. 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. However, did you know that many cream of tartar uses have nothing to do with baking or cooking?

Like many other pantry regulars (ahem, baking soda and vinegar), cream of tartar's skillset is anything but limited to making tasty treats. In this article, we'll explore a few of our favorite cream of tartar uses that won't get you hungry!

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An Ingredient That Transcends Baking Recipes

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 as an egg white stabilizer.

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.

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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. Who knew you could find pest control options in the baking aisle?

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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, baking powder, and more, cream of tartar is arguably the best at hardening them. It also makes the bombs extra fizzy, according to this recipe.

Person wearing gloves and making bath bombs using household ingredients.
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.

A white dress shirt with yellow and black stains around the inside of the collar.
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 this acidic powder with a little water 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 upon any surface with stains, add boiling water, and let the water chill to room temp before you rinse. Tartar makes the coffee stains disappear!

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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 remove 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 use a smidge when the situation calls for it?

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.

Don't Underestimate Tartaric Acid

While cream of tartar is famous for firming up egg whites and making everything from whipped cream and sugar crystals to homemade playdough, it has so much to offer beyond the kitchen. As versatile as baking powder and white vinegar, this pantry staple can solve problems in the laundry room, bathroom, and even the garage!

Next time you're using potassium bitartrate to make angel food cake, reflect upon how the same acidic ingredient can remove stains, improve your bath, and make your car look brand new.

Person washing an aluminum pot with cream of tartar and soap.
Use cream of tartar to help get those pots and pans gleaming and clean.
tab6 /Shutterstock

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