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How to Descale an Electric Kettle

In this article, we’ll explain how to descale your electric kettle. We’ll start by taking a look at the damage that can happen from not descaling it, what causes scale to build up and how to descale an electric kettle step by step.

Why do I need to descale a kettle?

If you don’t descale your kettle, the build-up of deposits will lead to unsafe boiling water and a bad taste in your tea and other hot beverages.

So what causes these problems? The big culprit is limescale or mineral deposits, which forms on the heating element as well as inside the kettle due to hard water minerals such as calcium and magnesium ions reacting with dissolved carbon dioxide (CO2) in the water. This is often referred to as kettle furring and a kettle protector can go a long way in reducing build-up.

These substances are insoluble so they tend to accumulate over time forming an insulating layer preventing heat from transferring through resulting in higher energy consumption and risk of scalding. As well as this, limescale can have a bad effect on the taste of your drinks by reacting with compounds in the water to give it a soapy or chemical taste.

If you don’t descale your tea kettle regularly, you may also find that your kettle starts boiling your water at higher temperatures than usual and takes longer to bring it to a boil. This is because the build-up of limescale has increased the insulating layer on the heating element making it more resistant to heat and therefore requiring a higher voltage to overcome this resistance.


How to descale an electric kettle using white vinegar

inside a kettle with scale buildup

So what can you do?

In order to prevent these problems from happening, you should descale your kettle regularly. The first thing you need to do is remove any water from the kettle.

What you will need:

To clean the kettle you will need:

  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Water

Make a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water and pour it into the kettle. Depending on how high the scale is on the kettle you will want the vinegar solution to cover it. We usually fill the kettle halfway.

Let the mixture sit in the kettle and do its stuff. This will help break down the buildup inside of the kettle on the element and the affected areas on the inside walls of the kettle.

Next turn on the kettle and wait. When the solution boils there will be a vinegar smell. This is because of the solution we created in the first step.

Once the water boils the scale on the inside should be broken down. If you haven’t descaled your kettle in a while. This process can take time, and you may need to leave the mixture to sit for some time.

After the kettle is descaled, you can pour the rest of the water down the drain and rinse the kettle with warm water a few times to remove the vinegar smell.

Finally, rinse it out with fresh water and your done

Fill your electric kettle with fresh water before placing on the power base. Your tea/coffee will be ready to drink in a few minutes, and you can enjoy the benefits of being able to have a good cup of tea whenever you want!

Note: You can also use this to remove any limescale build-up that may be on the outside of the kettle by wiping it with a non-abrasive sponge or a damp cloth.

Make sure to unplug the kettle when you do this. Also never submerge an electric kettle in water, as you can get electrocuted or damage the kettle.

Second method: Descale a Kettle using baking soda

If you don’t like the smell of vinegar you can always use baking soda. To descale your kettle with baking soda, place a couple of teaspoons of bicarbonate soda (baking soda) in the empty kettle and add enough water to dissolve it.

Once dissolved, pour the solution back into the kettle and place it on its base. Now turn your kettle on and once boiled, leave it to sit for a few minutes.

As well as removing limescale deposits from inside the kettle, this baking soda solution will also remove any unpleasant tastes in your drinks caused by limescale deposits from previous descaling sessions.

When the kettle boils, pour the baking soda mixture in with the boiled water and leave it to sit for one minute. Pour the water out and rinse the inside of the kettle before using it again.

Once the kettle has cooled you can clean the exterior of the kettle.

Third method: Get a Descaling solution

If you’d like to try and avoid the vinegar smell altogether, or the scale has been built up over years, you can use commercial descaling products available from most supermarkets.

These usually come as a powder and should be mixed with hot but not boiling water before adding it to the kettle (always read the instructions).

A teaspoon of descaling powder per 1-gallon capacity is the standard dosage. Once inside the kettle, the product will remove limescale deposits from inside the electric kettle using an acidic chemical reaction.

After leaving it to sit for a predetermined period of time (usually 10 or 20 minutes), you’ll need to drain and rinse your kettle before filling it with water and boiling it as usual.

This should leave your kettle spotless and your water tasting great.

Fourth Method: Citric acid

descale electric kettle using citric acid

Another common method is to use citric acid to break down and remove limescale from electric kettles. Fill your kettle to the halfway point and bring it to a boil.

Wait a few minutes and add a few tablespoons of citric acid and let it dissolve. Wait 20 minutes for the mixture to break down the scale and then give it a scrub with a sponge or bottle brush. This will remove your build-up as well.

Next, remove the water and rinse out the kettle with some fresh water.


What if I don’t descale my kettle?

So what happens if you don’t do this? If you use hard water, the lime deposits will build up over time and eventually cause your kettle to boil water at a higher temperature than usual, boiling it well above the recommended 100ºC.

This means that not only will your tea and coffee taste horrible because of the limescale deposits, but it can be much more dangerous as boiling water at such a high temperature is much less forgiving than normal.

You may even find that your kettle switches itself off to prevent overheating, which could lead to dangerous situations if you’re not there to dispose of the hot liquid safely.


Other things you need to know about descaling your kettle

The other thing that you should be aware of is that not all descalers are suitable for use with kettles, especially if the water being used has a high mineral content such as hard water from a well. We live in such an area and we have a water softener to help with this.

If possible, look for descalers specifically made for kettles and follow the instructions on the packaging. Also, never add a descaler while your kettle is on as it could damage your heating element.

Electricity is dangerous, so you should always unplug your electric kettle before descaling. You should also be aware that some of these products contain small amounts of acids such as citric, phosphoric and oxalic acids, so this is something you should take into account when using these products or using descaling methods involving vinegar.

You shouldn’t let children anywhere near descaling solutions as it’s a dangerous chemical that can cause severe burns if consumed by accident. Always choose a good quality kettle with a stainless steel heating element, as these types of kettles will last longer and be more efficient than other types.

If you’re too busy or lazy to descale your kettle, then it may be better to buy a water filter jug that will remove lime deposits from the water before boiling. These tend to last much longer than kettles and save on electricity because they only boil as much as you need.

In conclusion, descaling your kettle is a necessary task to keep it in top condition and ensure a good tasting cup of tea or coffee every time. It’s also important to know what type of descaler to use and how best to do it so that you don’t damage your kettle or hurt yourself with dangerous chemicals. Follow the instructions on the packaging carefully, and if you’re still not sure, then just let someone else do it for you!


Tips for making the process easier

descaled electric kettle inside

Here are some tips for making the process easier:

-Start with boiling water and vinegar, and then add hot tap water periodically to make the process quicker.

-Put a rubber mat around the kettle. This will help to protect it from any spills that may occur during the descaling process.

-It’s not necessary to use every method of descaling described above. Choose whichever sounds best for you and your needs.

The benefits of descaling your electric kettle (lower risk of scalding, better tasting tea)

Some of the benefits of descaling your electric tea kettle are:

-Lower risk of scalding: As the deposits accumulate, it can cause water to boil at a higher temperature and makes it unsafe to drink.

-Better tasting tea: The build up on the heating element reduces the contact between water and metal, meaning that there is less ‘metal’ taste in your hot beverages.


How often should I descale a kettle?

You should descale the kettle every 4-6 weeks depending on how often you use it. Make it a practice to do it when you clean your electric kettle and you should prevent excessive deposits. This will keep your kettle running like new. Enjoy!

Related: How often to descale an espresso machine?

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