A kettle is a staple part of most kitchens.
We use them nearly every day for things like warming up porridge, cleaning out bottles, or the obvious, making a nice cup of tea.
Since we use them so frequently, limescale is prone to build up. This build-up can affect the taste of your food and drink.
That’s why we believe everyone should know how to descale the kettle. To ensure a nice brew never goes to waste!
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Here’s a quick way to descale your kettle in 3 steps:
- Add warm water mixed with vinegar or lemon juice
- Fill it up to the top and let it sit for an hour or two.
- Once the time has passed, turn the kettle on and let it boil away.
- Pour the mixture down the sink and thoroughly rinse your kettle with water and a sponge.
These steps are the easiest and quickest way to descale the kettle.
We will get into other methods further on, but before we do. Let’s take a look at how it gets to cleaning point.
What is limescale and how does it build up in your kettle?
Limescale is the hard, chalky substance that you can find lurking in your taps.
It’s mostly common in hard water areas because it contains more rich minerals like calcium and magnesium compared to soft water. Hard water and limescale are not dangerous by any means.
The problem is it will cause mayhem on the taste of your cuppa.
Nevertheless, due to the water sitting in your kettle for days at a time, this eventually will allow the minerals to reform back to solid matter, which happens after boiling it.
Once the evaporated water removes itself, the minerals will remain behind, and that’s how limescale gets into your kettle. For that reason, you will always see limescale build-up on your kettle.
You can stagnate the build-up by cleaning and rinsing your kettle regularly. Contrary to popular belief, the use of bottled water does not stop the limescale appearing in your kettle. This belief is false because bottled water contains many minerals that once evaporated, will leave behind deposits. Therefore, soft-water remains the ultimate prevention.
How To Prevent Limescale
You can use a simple, natural solution like the method previously described, or you can purchase a kettle cleaning mixture. These are available from most shops and supermarkets.
Here are a few other tips you can use to prevent limescale:
- Limescale catcher – It’s basically a squished up wire ball that attracts and collects the deposits so you can rinse it out of your kettle after. The problem with using one of these is they do not collect every bit, which is frustrating. But they are cheap and cheerful.
- Remove the water overnight – Leaving the water to sit for hours overnight will only promote build-up. Emptying and drying the kettle for extended periods when you are not using it will slow down the process.
- Descale often – Below we have a frequency guide to show you how regularly you need to descale. Fill your kettle using a filter jug – Brita filters are perfect and cost less than buying water softeners. If you’re looking to buy a brand new kettle, you can purchase ones, with built-in filters. Again this will only slow down the process, but it’s a better solution than most.
When you make your mixture of vinegar and water, it has to be half and half. 50/50. Too much vinegar or other mixture can cause internal damage to your kettle, which will mean having to purchase a brand new one. On the flip-side, not adding enough water will dilute the solution, and it will not clean properly.
We recommend you leave it for at least an hour before you boil the kettle. Doing so will give it plenty of time to attack the limescale and dislodge it away from the interior. If you have a lot of build-up, then give it another hour so that it can get the most stubborn parts inside.
Dispose of what’s left down the sink or any drain hole.
Then you must rinse it out and wipe it down with a general-purpose cloth. If you don’t have one to hand, kitchen towel is fine, because of its absorption ability.
If you want a more convenient and long-term solution to prevent limescale from forming, then you will want to get a water softener – Like this one.
These will transform hard water into soft water by removing excessive minerals delaying a quick build-up.
Soft water is well known to improve the quality and taste of drinks like tea.
How Often Do You Need To Descale The Kettle?
Descaling regularly prevents long term damage and prolongs the life of your kettle. The typical usage is around five times a day.
The following descaling frequency guide below is based on average use per day.
- Hard water area: Once every month
- Soft water: Once every three months
If you use your kettle less than the average amount, you will not need to descale in accordance with this guide – more usage means more cleaning!
On the flip side, if you use it more than double the average, then you will need to clean it every two weeks.
Vinegar Stinks – Here’s What You Need To Do After
First of all, do not use brown vinegar!
White vinegar is much better for cleaning purposes, because of the ingredients, and smell.
If your kettle does smell of vinegar, you do not have to worry. It’s a simple fix and can be done in 10 minutes.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Fill the kettle up
- Add one heaped teaspoon of bicarbonate soda to the water
- Bring to a boil
- Empty again
- Rinse out with cold water and a cloth
The bicarbonate soda will eliminate any remains of the vinegar inside.
If the smell persists, then you repeat until it has completely gone.
If you wish for a more scented approach, you can add 1/2 a cup of lemon juice to the water and boil it. The lemon will neutralize the vinegar, and leave a better smell behind.
In addition to that, a more natural way to remove the smell of vinegar would be to chop half a lemon. Add it to the kettle and let it sit for a few hours. Do not boil it!
Once you are happy that the vinegar scent has gone, rinse and wipe it down.
How Water Softeners Help You Descale Your Kettle
We mentioned above about water softeners being the long-term deterrent to limescale within your kettle.
The best thing about these is they not only help your appliances but also, your taps, pipes and other water units in your home.
As you know by now, hard water is full of magnesium and calcium, which causes limescale to appear.
The problems are the majority of water in the UK is hard. That’s why softeners in recent times have become incredibly popular.
Softeners are installed on the main supply pipes to your home. Having one installed will remove excessive minerals in the water.
These minerals can cause bigger problems than just limescale within your kettle.
They can clog pipes and complicate washing detergents like soap from dissolving properly, which leaves behind water spots.
Dishwasher owners will understand, as a common problem they see is cloudy glasses.
The Benefits of Owning a Water Softener
- They trap excessive minerals which prevent limescale build-up and clogged pipes, which gives you cleaner pots, pans, and glasses. Even if you hand wash or use a dishwasher
- They improve the life-span of all water appliances, like kettles, coffee makers and washing machines
- They improve personal hygiene, as soft water is better for washing your skin and hair
- They improve the taste of tap water and decrease the use of bottled water which adds to plastic waste
- They save money on energy costs and appliance repairs/maintenance
As you can see, there is more to owning a water softener than just descaling the kettle. It has many advantages you can benefit from.
Now you know how to descale the kettle, you can get to it right away. Our methods seen above will only slow down limescale and not totally prevent it.
Unless you invest in a water softener, which has more benefits, then you will always incur this problem.
For some, having hard water is no issue, and cleaning your appliances every month or so, it part of the housework.
If you wish to know what the water type is in your area, we recommend you contact your local water authority who will be able to give you the best answer.
Founder of homeappliancegeek.com, avid cook, and lover of Asian food.
Signature dishes include Thai Red Curry, Chicken Saag, Bibimbap and Sushi.
Massive clean freak; a habit baked-in after spending 9 years in the catering industry.
The one appliance he couldn’t live without? Easily the dishwasher (total relationship saver!).