Scuffed Up Plates? Cream of Tartar to the Rescue!


Cream of Tartar sounds way fancier than it really is.

In fact, it’s known in the scientific community as Potassium bitartrate, but sounds way classier as cream of tartar.  Don’t you feel a little more bourgeoisie now?  It kind of sounds like a 19th century toothpaste that royalty used. I can assure you, it’s not.

So what the heck is Cream of Tartar?

It’s a byproduct of wine making actually, it forms crystals which are then processed and used for many household and cooking applications.  It is found in baking powder and baking soda, is a key component of your kids’ beloved Play-Doh, can remove stains and rust from metals (mix lemon juice and make a paste) and on and on we can go.  It’s pretty wild stuff, hence the Fancy McSpecial name.

Anyway, I am so pleased that I came across it because it helped me solve a very pesky and common household issue.  When you eat, you tend to scratch and scrape your way around dinnerware with flatware.  Even when dishes are placed in the sink among a pile of other dishes and flatware scratching occurs.  Have you looked inside your favorite coffee mug lately?  It’s likely there too.  These ‘scratches’ are scuff marks (read: not permanent) which look like black and grey lines and are sometimes referred to as ‘spiderwebbing‘.

Most people just ignore or accept these marks.  Over the years, they can really darken up your dishes and make them look old and dingy. Then, you’ll get the itch to buy new dishes…but you don’t need to.

Expensive or Cheap – they both get scuffed..

When my husband and I got married we registered for nice dishes.  We didn’t go for  bone china, but we went a few steps up from our Ikea plates.  Since Ikea plates are so cheap, they scratch very easily.  Our wedding plates look much better, albeit we have not used them as much.  Scratching occurs more frequently in lower-quality dinnerware.

The way to get rid of these marks is so simple you will run to your kitchen to try it as soon as you finish reading the post, because you won’t believe it and will have to see for yourself.

All you need is:

  1. Cream of tartar
  2. Water
  3. Scuffed up dishes
  4. Rag and drying cloth

To make this problem go away, simply:

Create a paste of water and cream of tartar (a thinck paste, so add only as much water as you need).  For small scuff marks, just massage the paste over the mark and you should see it magically disappear.  If the whole plate is marked up, use the rag to wipe the paste over the plate.  Work the paste into the dish using a circular motion and when you don’t see marks anymore, rinse the paste off and buff dry with your drying cloth.

It’s so easy!

I hope you give this a try – let me know how it works for you!  I am going to do some more experimenting with cream of tartar and see what other magical uses it has.

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Melissa Maker is the host of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube, editor-at-large of, and founder of Clean My Space (a well-known Toronto-based cleaning service). She's been knee-deep in the cleaning game since 2006. Follow Melissa: @MelissaMaker on Instagram, SnapChat & Twitter!