How to Clean with Cream of Tartar

Think cream of tartar is something you only put on a fish sandwich? Guess again! This baking essential can also be used for a variety of cleaning tasks around your home.

Amanda Thomas
5-minute read
Episode #109

If you like to cook or bake, then you probably know what cream of tartar is. If not, then you probably assume that it’s something you put on a fish sandwich. Ah, sorry…but, no. Here’s the technical description of cream of tartar:

Cream of tartar is a by-product of the winemaking process. A powder forms inside wine barrels during fermentation. It comes from tartaric acid, a naturally occurring substance in winemaking. It's found in the sediment left behind in barrels after the wine has been fermented, and it gets purified into the powdery white substance that we use in baking. .


Did you know?  Cream of Tartar + Baking Soda = Baking Powder

Baking powder is used in baking all the time to ensure that cakes and cookies rise well. Adding it to beaten egg whites increases their stability and volume when making a meringue.

But here’s something you probably didn't know about cream of tartar: It's also a pretty awesome household cleaner. A winemaking by-product - really? That’s right. Here are 12 of the best ways to use cream of tartar in something besides your lemon meringue pie:

12 Tips for Cleaning with Cream of Tartar

  • Removing rust stains:  Mix one teaspoon cream of tartar with ¼ cup baking soda. Add hydrogen peroxide a little at a time until a paste is formed. Rub the paste on the rust spot. Let sit for 30 minutes and then clean with a damp sponge.

  • Cleaning the bathtub and tile:  This concoction is almost the same minus the baking soda. Mix a few tablespoons of cream of tartar with peroxide one drop at a time to form a paste. Use this to scrub away a bathtub ring, stains in the tub, or stains on your bathroom tile.

See also: How to Clean Your Bathroom


  • Cleaning a stainless steel sink:  Mix 1 cup of distilled white vinegar with ¼ cup cream of tartar. Be sure to mix this in a glass or plastic container (no metal). Use the mixture as a scrub for your stainless steel sink and rinse with warm water. Your sink will shine!

  • Reviving scratched dishes:  Cream of tartar is just great for restoring scratched dinnerware. If you have light colored or white dishes, you know that eating utensils can leave greyish scratches on your plates and bowls. Simply mix cream of tartar and water to form a soft paste. Rub this on the dishes and rinse with warm water.  Your plates and bowls will look new again!

  • Clean the gunk off your toaster:  You know that sticky stuff that collects around the toast slots on your toaster? It resists just about any cleaning application I’ve tried...except cream of tartar. Just mix a little water with some cream of tartar to create a milky substance. Smear it on the sticky stuff, scrub a little with a sponge, and then wipe clean with a damp cloth or paper towel. That gunk is history!