How to clean a kettle that’s covered in limescale

Is that tea with milk, sugar, or calcium carbonate?

A red clean kettle boiling on the kitchen counter

Whether you’re cooking up a hearty meal or a warm drink, hot water should be clean, fresh and free from limescale residue. For this you need a clean kettle to boil it. That means knowing how to decalcify kettles – and we have just the tips to help.

Limescale: Kettles’ #1 enemy

Wondering why cleaning your kettle is important? While it’s easy to miss off the cleaning rota, doing so will allow limescale to build up which can clog the heating element. It can also leave a grubby residue on the outside of your kettle. Remove limescale inside and out to get your kettle looking good and working great.

How do I descale a kettle?

Limescale clings to surfaces so it can be hard to scrub off manually. Doing so risks damaging the surface or breaking the kettle completely. Instead, you need to naturally loosen the limescale. Store cupboard favourites like lemon juice and vinegar can do just that.

Cleaning tips for a kettle descale: Vinegar method

If you’re looking to kettle-descale, vinegar is a great option. Use it to tease encrusted limescale off the kettle with minimal effort.

How to clean a kettle with vinegar:

  1. Fill a kettle ¾ full with equal parts white vinegar and water.
  2. Close the lid and bring to the boil.
  3. Rinse a few times to clear out the dislodged limescale.
  4. Boil again with water only and rinse again to remove the smell and taste of vinegar (no one wants vinegar-infused tea).

If you have a lot of limescale build-up then you may find some areas need more targeted cleaning. Soak a sturdy kitchen towel with vinegar and wrap it around areas with lots of limescale. Leave for at least an hour and you should then be able to just wipe it off.

Not a fan of vinegar? You can also remove limescale from kettles with citric acid. Instead of vinegar and water, fill a kettle ¾ full with plain water then drop in half a lemon. You might need to boil it a couple of times to decalcify it fully, but it will leave your kettle fresh and smelling of lemon. If you don’t want this flavour to infuse with your next brew, then just rinse and boil with clean water a couple of times before you next use your kettle.

How to descale kettles outside

Now the water you’re boiling runs clear and fresh, you can make the outside of your kettle look just as clean. As before, soak strong sheets of kitchen towel in vinegar and let them rest on the outside of the kettle to loosen the grip of the calcium carbonate (that’s all limescale is). After an hour or so, wipe off the remains. Use a clean dry kitchen towel to dry the outside and buff away any streaks.


A really strong kitchen towel is best for this job. Plenty Kitchen Towels won’t fall apart after soaking in vinegar. They’re also extra absorbent, which means they’ll hold vinegar around the target areas of your kettle effectively.

So now you know the secret to removing limescale it’s time to decalcify your kettle and enjoy a fresh cup of tea (or coffee) and put your feet up. You’ve earned it.

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