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How to Clean and Descale an Electric Kettle

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Let’s bring your kettle from spotty to spotless.

An electric kettle — sometimes called a water boiler — is one of the most beloved pieces in many homes. But when it becomes grimey with mineral deposits, limescale and mold, it can be a little heartbreaking.

We’re going to show you how to clean an electric kettle so you can avoid these nasties. Our step-by-step guide will show you how to decalcify a kettle, too.

Soon enough, you’ll be making the world’s best cup of tea, thanks to your spotless kettle.

How to Clean an Electric Kettle With Vinegar

Fill the kettle with a 1:1 solution of water and distilled white vinegar. Boil the kettle, then leave it for 20 minutes to soak. Rinse the kettle a few times. Refill the kettle with water and boil again to remove the vinegar residue. You may need to rinse it a few more times to remove the vinegar odor thoroughly.


How Often to Clean an Electric Kettle

We recommend deep cleaning an electric kettle every two months. You may need to issue a deep cleaning once a month if you notice more deposits inside your kettle. But thankfully, electric kettles are low maintenance.

What are Mineral Deposits?

One of the main reasons you need to deep clean your electric kettle is to remove mineral deposits. But what are they?

Mineral deposits come from the elements in your water, particularly if you live in a hard water area.

These minerals include magnesium and calcium, which won’t evaporate. Therefore, they cling to the kettle’s interior. They’re usually white and chalky.

Mineral deposits are also referred to as limescale.

How to Descale an Electric Kettle

Deep cleaning your kettle, otherwise known as descaling, is easy. This method uses distilled white vinegar to loosen mineral deposits, remove odors and thoroughly clean your kettle’s interior.

  • Time: 30 minutes.
  • Difficulty: Easy.

What You’ll Need

  • Distilled white vinegar.
  • Water.

1. Fill the Kettle With Solution

Fill your kettle half full with distilled white vinegar. Fill it the rest of the way with water.

2. Boil the Kettle

Turn the kettle on to boil. Let it fully boil.

3. Let the Vinegar Soak

Let the solution soak in the kettle for about 20 minutes to loosen any residual limescale.

4. Rinse Well

Rinse the kettle a few times to remove the loosened limescale and vinegar residue. Refill the kettle with plain water.

5. Boil the Kettle Again

With just water in the kettle this time, boil the kettle again. This will help get rid of vinegar residue. Nobody wants their next cup of tea to taste like vinegar.

Repeat a couple of times until the vinegar smell is gone from inside the kettle.

How to Clean an Electric Kettle Without Vinegar

If cleaning with vinegar isn’t your cup of tea (no pun intended) or you don’t have any, you can use another product. We’ve got three other cleaning methods to try.

With Citric Acid

Citric acid is a compound derived from lemon juice and a naturally-effective cleaner. To use it to clean your kettle, follow these steps:

  1. Make solution: Add one tablespoon of citric acid and one cup of water to the kettle.
  2. Boil: Boil the kettle.
  3. Rinse: After the kettle has boiled, rinse the kettle out a few times.
  4. Dry: Use a towel to dry the inside of the kettle and remove any traces of the acid.
  5. Rinse again: If you feel it’s necessary, rinse the kettle again. Fill it with water. Boil it. Then rinse once more.

With Baking Soda

Baking soda is a cheap and non-toxic cleaner. It’s really easy to use for cleaning your kettle.

  1. Make solution: Add two tablespoons of baking soda to your kettle and fill the rest of the way with water.
  2. Boil: Bring the kettle to a boil.
  3. Leave: Leave the kettle to sit for 10 minutes. This gives the baking soda a chance to remove limescale even further.
  4. Brush: Once the kettle is cool to the touch, use a non-abrasive scrubbing brush to scrub the inside of the kettle.
  5. Rinse: Rinse the kettle well a few times.
  6. Dry: Dry the kettle with a dish towel.

With Soda

As a bit of a fun experiment, you could also descale your kettle with soda, such as Coca-Cola. Because of its acidic nature, this can help to remove mineral deposits.

  1. Make solution: Fill the kettle with about 500 milliliters of soda. If you have a smaller kettle, just fill it halfway.
  2. Boil: Boil the kettle, then leave it to stand for 30 minutes.
  3. Scrub: Once the kettle has cooled, empty it and scrub the inside with a non-abrasive brush.
  4. Rinse: Rinse well with water a few times.
  5. Dry: Dry the inside with a dish towel.

How to Clean the Outside of an Electric Kettle

Kettle exteriors can get dirty. Fingerprints, oil, splashes from other foods, coffee stains, and debris can stain the outside of your kettle. Let’s get it clean.

Plastic

Here’s how to clean a plastic exterior:

  1. Create solution: In a sink, mix together warm water and dish soap.
  2. Wipe kettle: Dampen a microfiber cloth in the soapy solution. Wring it out well, then rub the outside of the kettle. The dish soap and warm water will remove blemishes, stains, and dirt.
  3. Dry: Use a dry microfiber cloth to wipe the kettle exterior.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel kettles are easy to clean, but they quickly get grimey. Most stains show up very clearly on steel. Here’s how to clean it:

  1. Make baking soda solution: Add three tablespoons of baking soda to a bowl with warm water. Mix well.
  2. Wipe kettle: Dip a microfiber cloth into the baking soda solution and wring it well. Wipe the kettle to remove dirt, debris, and stains.
  3. Dry: Use a separate microfiber cloth to dry the kettle.
  4. Oil the kettle: If you want a shiny finish, add a drop of olive oil onto a clean cloth and rub the kettle in circular motions. Leave it to dry for about an hour before you touch the kettle again.

Glass

Glass kettles are gorgeous, but sometimes stains ruin the aesthetic. Did you know you can clean a glass kettle with lemon? Here’s how:

  1. Use a lemon: Cut a lemon in half and rub the open side over the stains on the glass.
  2. Wipe with a damp cloth: Dampen a lint-free cloth in warm water and wipe the kettle.
  3. For further stains and streaks: If you’re still unsatisfied, make a 1:1 solution of white vinegar and water. You can keep it in a spray bottle for future uses. Dampen a cloth with the solution and scrub the outside of the kettle to remove stains and add shine.
  4. Air dry: Let the glass air dry to avoid streaks.

Kettle Maintenance Tips

Electric kettles aren’t cheap, but they can last a long time with proper care. Here are our top maintenance tips:

  • Clean it regularly: Deep clean the interior at least every two months. We recommend cleaning the exterior every week.
  • Empty out water: Don’t leave water sitting in the kettle. Try boiling what you need. Fill a mug with water, then pour it into the kettle to have the exact amount for your cup of tea. You can use the leftover water to feed your plants.
  • Use distilled water: Tap water is full of mineral deposits, especially if you live in a hard water area. Instead, use distilled water to minimize limescale.
  • Clean cartridges and filters: Your kettle has cartridges and filters, too. Check your user manual for cleaning instructions. These need cleaning regularly.
  • Don’t turn it on while empty: Sometimes, we accidentally nudge an empty kettle and end up flicking it on. But try and avoid this at all costs as this will damage the heating element.
  • Don’t clean the electric parts: Never get the heating elements or the kettle’s base wet. You don’t need to clean these parts. You can wipe them with dry cloth from time to time to remove dust.

FAQs

Is Limescale In a Kettle Harmful?

Limescale might be harmful to the condition of your kettle, but it’s not a worry for your health. In fact, there might be health benefits to drinking hard water and its deposits (1). Studies show that mineral deposits can protect you from cardiovascular disease.

However, other studies show that there might be a correlation between hard water and kidney stones. The evidence is murky, so we can’t fully trust it.

The main drawback is that it doesn’t taste good. If you want fresher and cleaner-tasting water — keep your kettle clean.

Can I Reboil Water In a Kettle?

Yes — health-wise, this is mostly safe (2). However, it can lead to more mineral deposits in your kettle. If you have gallstones, kidney stones, or arthritis, you may want to avoid this since the extra limescale can be harmful.

The main risk, overall, is that reboiling water can be a burning hazard. The water can get even hotter than its standard boiling point.

If you pour it from the kettle too quickly, it can explode and sputter. If this splashes on you, you may get burned.

What Is the Brown Stuff In My Kettle?

That’s limescale. While limescale is typically white or yellow, it can sometimes be brown. Don’t panic — it isn’t rust.

How Do I Get the Black Off the Bottom of My Kettle?

If the black marks are limescale, you can use our vinegar, baking soda, citric acid, or soda method to descale the kettle.

However, if it’s a black burn mark, you may want to consider getting a new kettle. Your kettle may be overheating and burning, which is a fire hazard.

Another way to clean these black burn marks — if you know your kettle isn’t a fire hazard — is with this method:

  1. Boil the kettle: Add water to the kettle and bring it to a boil.
  2. Add soap: Add a few drops of dish soap to the hot water. Mix it with a wooden spoon.
  3. Soak: Leave the soapy water to soak for two hours.
  4. Add baking soda: Add two tablespoons of baking soda to the soapy water.
  5. Scrub: Use a non-abrasive scrubbing brush to clean the kettle’s interior.
  6. Rinse: Empty the water and rinse the kettle well to remove all traces of soap and baking soda.
  7. Dry: Dry the interior with a dish towel.

What If It’s Mold?

If the black spots in your kettle are mold, we recommend getting a new one. It’s not safe to ingest mold.

How Often Should a Kettle be Replaced?

Aim to replace your kettle every four to five years. Here’s how to know it’s time:

  • It takes forever to boil: If your kettle is taking minutes upon minutes to boil water, it might be near the end of its life.
  • The water tastes funny: If the water tastes weird even after our deep cleaning method, there might be too much limescale and deposits. A new kettle will fix that.
  • Discoloration: If your kettle has crazy discoloration inside, then we recommend getting a new one.

Make Fresh Tea

There’s nothing quite like coming home from a long day, boiling the kettle, and enjoying a rich cup of tea.

But for the best flavor, we recommend deep cleaning an electric kettle every two months. Our method is easy — it takes 30 minutes (this includes 20 minutes of waiting time).

Don’t forget to clean the exterior, too. The methods differ depending on the material of your kettle.

When in doubt, check your user manual for specific instructions.

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About the Author

Beth McCallum

Beth McCallum is a freelance writer & book blogger with a degree in creative writing, journalism, and English literature. Beth firmly believes that a tidy house is a tidy mind. She is always looking for new ways to sustainably clean and tidy her house, that's kind on the environment but effective in the house, too!