How to clean a kettle

Find out how to clean a kettle to improve its performance and prolong its lifespan

how to clean a kettle: Le’Xpress Copper Finish 1.4 Litre Whistling Kettle
Le’Xpress Copper Finish 1.4 Litre Whistling Kettle, Kitchen Craft
(Image credit: Kitchen Craft)

Want to know how to clean a kettle? Water boiled in a furred-up kettle can really spoil the taste of your morning cuppa, especially if you find yourself slurping up flakes of limescale with your tea and toast.  

It’s important to give your kettle a clean every few months. Limescale and other mineral deposits build up inside your kettle over time and this will affect its performance, or even shorten its lifespan, so you’d be wise to pay it some attention occasionally. If you live in a hard water area you may need to descale your kettle more frequently.

Use this guide to find out how. For more household cleaning advice, visit our cleaning hub page. 

Cleaning a kettle with vinegar

What is limescale?

Limescale (calcium carbonate) is a milky white, tough deposit which clogs up the filaments of your kettle and forms when hot water has evaporated and solidified.  As well as looking unappetising when it appears as flakes floating in your hot drink and giving your boiled water a slightly metallic tang to it, limescale can be stubborn to remove by scrubbing alone. However, you don’t need to spend a lot of money or a lot of time on the solution. Chances are that you’ll have the ingredients in your cupboard already. 

Fill the kettle up to ¾ capacity with a solution of equal parts water and white vinegar. Bring the kettle to the boil and then turn it off (if it doesn’t do so automatically) and allow the mixture to stay in the kettle for up to 30 minutes. Pour away the liquid after use, rinse out the kettle with fresh water and then boil the kettle once or twice on full capacity to make sure that there is no lingering taste of vinegar. 

Find more ways to clean your home with vinegar in our guide.

How to clean a kettle with citric acid

Ensure that the kettle is half full before bringing it to the boil. Once it has boiled, add one to two tablespoons of citric acid powder to the boiled water. Allow the mixture to do its job for 15 to 20 minutes and then pour it out. Make sure that you rinse out the kettle and boil it at full capacity, throwing away the boiled water afterwards, before you use it to make a hot drink. Citric acid is available from Amazon.

Le’Xpress Mirror Polish 1.4 Litre Whistling Kettle

(Image credit: Kitchen Craft)

Cleaning with Coke

Our favourite fizzy drink has a phosphoric acidity at a pH level of 2.8, which makes it as effective as lemon juice or vinegar for some cleaning tasks. Pour enough Coke into your kettle to fill it and then set it to boil. After it has boiled, leave it to cool down for about 45 minutes before pouring it out. Thoroughly wash and rinse out your kettle afterwards and boil some fresh water in it, discard it and then you’ll be ready to make a cup of tea again. 

Cleaning a kettle with lemon juice

Try putting a mixture of 30ml of lemon juice to 500ml of water in your kettle. Leave it to stand for one hour before bringing the liquid to the boil. Pour it away and rinse well before resuming your usual routine.

More ways to use lemon to clean your home in our guide.

How to clean a kettle with bicarbonate of soda

Add a tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda to a full kettle of water before boiling it. Allow it to stand for 30 minutes before pouring it away. Rinse the kettle with fresh water and boil once or twice with new water each time to ensure there is no lingering taste of bicarb.     

We have lots more baking soda cleaning tips in our feature

Garden Trading Enamel Stove Kettle in Charcoal

(Image credit: Garden Trading)

Getting rid of limescale in a kettle

Vinegar will remove the limescale from your kettle. Rinse out the loose flakes, add a half and half white vinegar and water mixture to the kettle, boil, and leave to stand for 30 minutes. Rinse and boil with clean water then discard contents twice.

The top three kettle descalers you can buy

1. How simple and mess free is this? Just boil half a kettle full of water, unplug, drop the sachet in and leave for 10 to 15 minutes. With a five-star rating and plenty of rave reviews for its results, Home Master Kettle Descaler does the business. You can use it on metal or plastic designs. You don’t even need to open the sachet. Once the fizzing’s over, you can rinse and get back to a fur-free kettle and residue-less brews.

2. Ivitro CalSolve Kettle Descaler is also five-star solution according to its users as well as the team at Real Homes. You’ll get 40 doses in the pack, so you can keep on descaling at low cost. All you need to do? Dissolve the powder in hot water and the limescale will vamoose. Oh, and it’s not smelly either. You can make sure you stay on top of the descaling with this long-lasting pack. It’ll work for most kettles – except galvanised surfaces or enamel appliances – dissolving the accumulated limescale speedily.

3. After an eco-friendly solution? Ecozone Kettle & Iron Descaler is made with 100% citric acid. It takes half an hour to do its work, so you won’t be waiting long for a fur-free appliance. Oh, and it’ll sort out the iron for you, too. It’s easy to use and, as it doesn’t take long, you won’t be parched for a cuppa.

Kettle cleaning: tips and hacks

Removing stubborn limescale

If you find that there are stubborn spots of limescale left behind after you have cleaned the kettle, give the areas a gentle rub with a pan scourer to dislodge the last few bits. Rinse well afterwards.

Empty after use

Avoid leaving leftover water in the kettle after use because this increases the chances of mineral deposits building up inside.

Make it shine

If you have a kettle with a stainless steel exterior, dip a soft cloth in olive oil and wipe it over the outside surface. Use a gentle rub and polishing motion to leave the kettle gleaming. Plastic kettles can be wiped over with a cloth dipped in warm, soapy water.

Watch electrics

Always take extra care to ensure that the base of the kettle and its electrical parts remain dry when you are cleaning it.  

Let it cool

If you are cleaning the interior or the exterior of the kettle by hand, check that it has cooled down first and unplug it. 

More cleaning tips and hacks: