Any half-decent chef or baker most likely has a jar of it stashed somewhere, something that they bought long ago, for that one project that one time, and then ignored forevermore. And the name may ring a bell for you, but maybe only in that vaguely-familiar way. Snickerdoodle cookies? Fish sticks?
All the way at the very back of your spice cabinet, pushed into the farthest corner and long forgotten, is that little jar of eco-friendly DIY green cleaning gold: cream of tartar.
Tartaric acid is a white crystalline by-product of winemaking that’s affectionately referred to as “wine diamonds.” How cute is that?! And when it’s collected and ground into powder, it becomes cream of tartar: the secret ingredient in snickerdoodles, and the newest secret weapon in your green cleaning arsenal. There’s about a million and one ways to use cream of tartar around the house, but here are 10 of the very best:
1. Polish copper using a paste made from 1 part cream of tartar and 1 part fresh lemon juice. Just use a rag to rub it on, then rinse it clean and use a fresh rag to dry.
2. Shine up stainless steel with a paste made from cream of tartar and water. This works on everything from flatware and jewelry, all the way up to large kitchen appliances.
3. Buff aluminum pans and get rid of rust or discoloration using a paste of cream of tartar and either water or hydrogen peroxide. Use a scrub brush to apply the paste, then rinse clean.
4. Make a general soft scrub by combining 2 cups distilled vinegar with ½ cup cream of tartar and mixing well. This can be used on countertops, or pretty much any other surface where you’d usually use a mildly abrasive cleanser.
5. Clean and polish your stovetop burner pans using a mix of equal parts cream of tartar and distilled white vinegar. Apply the paste and allow it to sit for 15 minutes before rising it away.
6. Make a bathtub rub that is especially effective against the dreaded “bathtub ring,” by mixing equal parts cream of tartar and baking soda, and then making a paste with a bit of fresh lemon juice. Scrub it onto stains, allow it to sit for 30 minutes, and then rinse it away.
7. Remove bathtub mold and mildew with a simple paste made from cream of tartar and water. A toothbrush or other stiff-bristled brush will really expedite the process.
8. Eliminate stains from porcelain too, like sinks, toilets and more. Simply make a paste of cream of tartar and vinegar in equal parts. Rub the mixture over the stains, wipe it away, and then rinse the area clean.
9. Brighten up your coffee pot by adding 3 teaspoons of cream of tartar. Top it off with water, allow it to heat and sit for a bit, then wipe it clean and rinse as normal.
10. And finally, you can effectively remove that awful “spiderwebbing” and other scuff marks from your plates and mugs. Make a thick paste from cream of tartar and just a bit of water, then use a rag to massage the paste over the marks. Watch ‘em disappear, like magic!