10 Surprisingly Useful Ways to Use Cream of Tartar

This mysterious white powder in your pantry is known for its use in baking, but can it really help you around the house? Yes! See the list.

Cream of tartar is one of those mystery ingredients you might have in your pantry but have no idea what to do with it.  Those who bake know it works magic to stabilize and add volume to meringue, macaroons, and angel food cake.

Cream of tartar is potassium bitartrate, also known as potassium hydrogen tartrate, a byproduct of winemaking. And while it’s a great tool for baking, it actually has many other uses. Here are 10 unusual ways to make this acidic white powder work for you, in and out of the kitchen!

  1. Ant Repellent – Deter ants from invading your picnic table or patio by dusting their trail with cream of tartar.
  2. Stain Remover – Keep a container in the laundry room to remove stains from shirt collars. To use, dampen the collar with water and sprinkle with cream of tartar. Scrub the stained area with a toothbrush and then launder.
  3. Polish Stainless Steel Appliances – Clean and polish your stainless steel kitchen appliances by mixing ¼ cup of cream of tartar with 1 cup of white vinegar. Apply the mixture to a sponge and scrub the refrigerator, dishwasher, and other stainless steel appliances. Afterward, wipe clean with a damp cloth.
  4. Baking Powder Substitute – Run out of baking powder? Make your own by blending ½ teaspoon cream of tartar, and ¼ teaspoon each of baking soda and cornstarch.
  5. Kids’ Play Dough – Make your own non-toxic play dough. In a medium saucepan mix: 1 1/2 cups of flour, 1 cup salt, ¼ cup cream of tartar, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, and 2 cups of water. To color, stir in beetroot power (red) or green tea powder, or add 15 to 20 drops of food coloring. Stir constantly and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes until the mixture holds together. Transfer dough to wax paper to cool. Knead lightly and store in an airtight container.
  6. Polish Silver –Sprinkle cream of tartar onto wet silver serving pieces and scrub clean with a damp Magic Eraser. Magic!
  7. Rust Remover – Mix 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar with 1/4 cup baking soda, and add enough hydrogen peroxide to form a paste. Apply the paste to a rusted spot and let it sit for 30 minutes. Wipe with a clean, dry cloth.
  8. Unclog Drains – Clean the hair and gunk from your tub and sink by pouring a cup or two of boiling hot water down the drain. Mix ¼ cup of salt, ¼ cup of baking soda, and 1 tablespoon of cream of tartar together. Pour the mixture into the drain. Let it sit for about 15 minutes, then pour more boiling hot water through the drain.
  9. Stop Smoking? – While Snopes.com and other media outlets has claimed this use to be “false,” many of our readers have had success with cream of tartar mixed with orange juice to remove cigarette cravings. The remedy is: mix ½ cup of fresh orange juice, combined with 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar, and drink daily for 10 to 30 days as a natural remedy to stop smoking cravings. It may have a laxative effect, so keep that in mind. We recommend discussing this treatment option with your physician before implementing it.
  10. Laxative – Cream of tartar has been used as a natural remedy for constipation. It has a diuretic effect on the body, so it should only be used as an occasional remedy to prevent dehydration and loss of vital electrolytes. Cream of tartar is high in potassium so if you’re on a potassium-restricted diet, or need a remedy for constipation, discuss dosage and options with your healthcare professional first.
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Deborah Tukua

Deborah Tukua is a natural living, healthy lifestyle writer and author of 7 non-fiction books, including Pearls of Garden Wisdom: Time-Saving Tips and Techniques from a Country Home, Pearls of Country Wisdom: Hints from a Small Town on Keeping Garden and Home, and Naturally Sweet Blender Treats. Tukua has been a writer for the Farmers' Almanac since 2004.

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Is it 1/2 tsp or 1/2 tbsp with oj for the lungs? This recipes says tbsp but literally every other recipe I see says tsp. LMK! Thanks!

Susan Higgins

Hi Laura, we’re going to adjust our recipe to say 1/2 teaspoon, so we recommend that. But again, we stress that there’s no scientific evidence it works on cravings, but we hear from a lot of our readers that it worked for them.


Thanks so much for the reply and for making that adjustment! And noted on the evidence. I’ll see how it works for ME and report back. 🙂


Did it work? I’m on day 3 of quitting.


Thank you for sharing!

Mildred Riddell

Interesting uses


April 2020 and the coronavirus pandemic is not decreasing. The lungs are certainly one area that could use some help..the major cause of death has been pneumonia.
Great information and I agree we need all the good advice and facts only that are available.

I have use cream of tarter to help relieve the symptoms of msg (mono sodium glumate) that may be hidden in foods for my husband. We try to avoid it but “life happens”. We actually keep a little in our cars for just in case

Simply add 1/4 teaspoon to 4 to 6 ounces of warm water and drink it. His allergic reactions disappeared under 30 minutes.

We also had a pinch to our daily gallon of water to help balance ph and and potassium.

Everyone pray for those that are infected to be healed and live.
Pray for those of not infected to stay immune forever and pray for all of the persons known and unknown that are helping to assist and solve this pandemic all over the world.

Thank you for this great post I was looking for something to clean my stainless appliance. Using this time to do thing I did not make time to do. Stay healthy, wash your hands thoroughly, drink something warm to hot liquids every hour, stay hydrated, and stay positive.

Rhonda Blankenship Westbrook

Well its march 2020 now. I’ve heard this stuff about a year or 2 ago. So I went and got mine out of the cabinet, studying up on it wondering if would help destroy some or all the toxins out of the lungs to help beat this CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC that’s going on here now. I guess it would really be worth trying. I read once before about it clearing mucus from you lungs as well as helping to stop smoking.. I think with so many getting this respiratory virus and the world being in such a nervous chaotic situation right now with so man lives its taking, that this would be another great thing to be trying to stay healthy right now.. the oj would be a plus as well for those that can handle it. We blots of vitamin C too. And if it could get folks to stop smoking that will be a great help to. God bless us all. Some really horrible and historical times we’re all in right now ,and no way possible for anyone to know how long til its over

James Matt

Lot of really good information I’m interested in possibly cleaning the nicotine out of my lungs I’m not so interested in quitting cigarettes but if I can clean my lungs out probably be a good thing

Shawna Hamby


amber lawson

How many times a day do you drink the ok and cot mix??

Maryann Bailey

Can you cot with another liquid like gatorade 0 i am diabetic and oj raises my sugar levels


I realize this is an old post but thought it might help someone. I mix mine with V8. It mixes well and you can’t tell it’s in there. Hope this helps!


I am just curious. Someone said they mixed the cot with o.j. 3x over 2 days and hadn’t smoked in 2 months . Did it make your stomach cramp? Diaherrea? Did you keep smoking when you drank it?


I am going to try this Stop Smoking recipe.
It calls for 1/2 cup of orange juice.
Would more orange juice hurt? Or is it the cream of tarter that matters, and the oj is just to make it taste better?

Susan Higgins

Hi Dan, you can add more. It’s just to make it taste better.


I have been doing a small glass of ok with 1 teaspoon of cot twice a day now for 3 days. My cravings have cut in half and the taste of cigarettes is getting nasty so I don’t want to smoke either. Haven’t noticed any side effects other than butts tasting like crap lol

Valeria Ashley

Yes the cigarettes starts to taste real bad

Tish K.

Just tried a little and got diarrhea. It’s best used in baking and some cleaning recipes.

Valeria Ashley

It’s cleaning out the nicotine so it’s best to take when you’re home or before bed

Valeria Ashley

I did this and quit unfortunately I got depressed and started again but it really works

Markelle Rieken

So do
Orange juice and cream of tartar really work to stop smoking I really need to stop but I have
gastritis so can I still try will it make you sick

Valeria Ashley


Melba Sakowski

I litterally mixed 1 tsp of COT with orange juice 3 times over the course of two days. Have not had a cigarette sense. It’s been two months and two days.

Susan Higgins

Excellent! Great news, Melba!


So how many times do you drink it in a day

Margie Lee Green

I want to try cream of tartar to help me stop smoking. Orange juice, no. Indigestion is a problem. I’m gonna try it in other liquids til I find something that works

Mary G.

I use Trop 50. It has less sugar and I don’t get the stomach problems. Try a small bottle first and see how you do!

LaVonne Bickle

Like me, most readers probably know that Cream of Tartar is called for in many grandmothers’ Snickerdoodle cookie recipes. YUM!


I use cream of tartar to remove flatware marks from my stoneware dishes. Make a paste and scrub. It makes them look new again.

Barbara Amundson

I have used cream of tartar in my canners for canning for the last 45 years. It started with sterilizing baby bottles. You will have sparkling clean jars with no lime on them.

Roberta Dixon

I failed to mention that when I use it to remove the stains or burned on foods in my pans, I just sprinkle the cream of tarter – less than 1/2 tsp. – in my pan with water and bring it to a boil. If it doesn’t work the first time, repeat the process. I’ve never had it fail.

Roberta Dixon

I have always used it to clean my pans that have stubborn stains or burned on foods. I never dreamed you could use it for so many other things! I love that it is not-toxic for clearing out clogged drains or the ant thing. I am going to try it for ants in my kitchen.

My husband uses toxic insecticides indoors but I don’t like it in my kitchen! I am EXCITED, thanks to you Farmer’s Almanac and Deborah Tukua.

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