Pin Busters! Cream of tartar as a cleaning product?

One thing I love about Pinterest is finding different uses for everyday items. Something I see pinned over & over again is "new ways to use cream of tartar". If I remember correctly, cream of tartar is kind of pricey to use for cleaning purposes, but if it works really well on something that is otherwise difficult to clean, I might consider using it for a couple of things.

A little background on cream of tartar...

It's a powder that forms on wine barrels after the wine has been removed. Hey, if it comes from a wine barrel it has to be good, right? Apparently, when mixed with baking soda, it also becomes what we know as baking powder. Who knew?

I read a ton of websites talking about the uses, but I'm only going to list a few here, Some of them just made me think "why in the world would you want to do that?", so needless to say, I'll be leaving those out.
  1. Mix cream of tartar with lemon juice, rub on copper pots, rinse and see the shine! (I didn't test this one so take it for what it's worth. My Grammy used Bon Ami for that sort of thing.)
  2. Rub porcelain surfaces (like sinks, tubs, or toilets) with cream of tarter to remove stains. (This one was in the "why would I do that" category, but I included anyway. No I didn't test it. Why would I? I have other cleaners for that.) Some say to mix with hydrogen peroxide to make a paste.
  3. Mix cream of tartar with glycerin to make a fabric stain remover spray. Rub in & launder as usual. (Didn't test it - might try it sometime. Unfortunately, it didn't give the ratio.)
  4. Use a few tablespoons of cream of tartar with hot water or hydrogen peroxide and clean aluminum pans which have discoloration or any rusty drains, pans, or stains.
  5. Sprinkle cream of tartar on cracks and crevices near your doorway to prevent ants from coming in the house. (Might try this in the spring - we get ants once a year in our laundry room.)
  6. To clean metals (like cookware), combine 2 1/2 c. baking soda, 1 1/2 c. salt, and 2 TBSP. cream of tartar. Store it in an airtight container.To use, pour a couple tablespoons of the powder onto the cookware and scrub with a dampened nylon scrubber. (Seems like a lot of work, but I guess if you were trying to avoid chemicals it might be worth it. Again, Bon Ami doesn't have chemicals & it's inexpensive.)
  7. Make a nonabrasive cleaner by mixing 2 tsp. vinegar or lemon juice and 2 tsp. cream of tartar in a small dish (you can adjust the amount if you need more).  Apply with rag or scrubber and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. Scrub, then rinse with hot soapy water. This can be used on dishes that have marks from silverware. Okay, I'll test this one!!
I have this Longaberger baking dish that gets a ton of use. It's probably about 10 years old and is my go-to lasagna pan just for it's ease of cleaning. However, it has a ton of metal marks on it from all the use. Perfect to test the "works great for cleaning marked dishes" comments.

I mixed 2 tsp. of cream of tartar with 2 tsp. of lemon juice. Very runny, but I decided to use it.

I poured some on the dish and scrubbed with an old dish scrubber...

I wasn't impressed with the results. Well, there were no results - it looked the same. So I added a little more cream of tartar to make more of a paste - then scrubbed again...

By this time, I was annoyed. How can so many people swear this works when it clearly isn't doing anything at all? I decided to let it sit on the dish for 10 minutes to see if that made any difference - and after 10 minutes, I scrubbed again...

Really? Total fail. Not worth any of the time or effort. Don't bother trying this at home. That's a half hour of my life I'm never getting back. Do yourself a favor - relax with a magazine and a cup of your favorite beverage instead. And for cleaning those marks? Stick to Bar Keepers Friend. I haven't tried it myself, but I plan to get some. I've heard nothing but good things about it. There's a printable coupon available at the link above - and you now have a choice of powder, soft cleanser, or spray. In my state, it's available at Ace Hardware, BB&B, Home Depot, Kmart, Kroger, Lowes, Meijer, Target, & Walmart, so I shouldn't have any problem finding it.

On to the next trial.

How about the bottoms of these saucepans? They're not horrible, so maybe it will work? And yes, I'm asking myself why in the world anyone would go to the trouble of mixing up a fairly expensive baking product just to clean some pans when you can buy inexpensive store products that will do the job better. But I promised to test it, so I will.

Well, that worked better but I wonder how it compares to something like Soft Scrub?

Hmmm. Fairly comparable, but the Soft Scrub side looks slightly better to me.

Here's what I think: Soft Scrub required less vigorous scrubbing & smelled better - plus I didn't have waste time and dirty some dishes to mix it up. It's ready-to-use - which means I'm more likely to use it.

I think for this purpose (where it actually seems to work), it just depends on what is more important to you - a no-chemical cleaner that has to be mixed up as needed or a ready-made product that's good to go when you are, but might cost a bit more and contains some chemicals. I think you definitely have to consider the price of the cream of tartar and how much of it you will use.

The verdict? Not Pin-worthy at all! Seriously, who thinks up these things?? I will test it for repelling ants in the spring though. Terro works really well (and I just discovered that they now offer pre-filled bait stations!! No more messy liquid on cardboard!), but I'm willing to give this a try.

And now I want Snickerdoodles. Which is why God created cream of tartar anyway.


  1. I never heard of using cream of tarter for cleaning, who knew? Thanks for linking up to Talkin' about Thursday, I hope to see you this week.


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