How to remove limescale from a kettle with vinegar – not elbow grease 

How to descale a kettle that’s covered in limescale: top tips from Plenty

A red clean kettle boiling on the kitchen counter

Whether it’s gravy for the family roast, or a cup of tea to cheer your housemate up, the kettle might just be the most important part of the kitchen! However, if you live in an area with hard water, you’ll know how quickly limescale can build up. One minute everything is fine, and the next you’re drinking your morning coffee, wondering how it’s both slimy and flaky at the same time.  

But not to worry! Removing limescale from your kettle doesn’t have to be difficult, and we have put together this guide on how to decalcify kettles so you can keep yours in great shape. After all, sometimes love is making someone a cup of tea, and sometimes love is finally getting all that limescale out of the kettle.  

Limescale: kettles’ #1 enemy  

Wondering why cleaning your kettle is so important? Apart from the obvious (we’re thinking about that slimy coffee again), limescale build up can actually clog the heating element in your kettle. This makes it worse at heating water.  

Limescale can also leave a grubby residue on the outside of your kettle. Remove limescale inside and out to get your kettle bright and shiny on the outside and working at its best on the inside. 

How do I descale a kettle? 

If you’re reading this guide, you might already know that limescale is hard to scrub off surfaces manually. Plus, scrubbing your kettle too hard can damage its surface and even break it completely.  

Altogether, removing limescale naturally is both better for your kettle and much easier for you! Ingredients like lemon juice and vinegar are a simple home remedy for limescale removal which are perfect for the job.  

Kettle cleaning tips: How to remove limescale from your kettle with vinegar

Vinegar is a great gentle acid for all sorts of home cleaning. Use it to get 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, and admire your new limescale-free kettle!
  4. The next step is technically optional but very highly recommended: boil again with water only and rinse again to remove the smell and taste of vinegar (unless you fancy vinegar-infused tea).

If you have a lot of limescale build-up then you may find some areas need a more targeted, intense approach to get them really clean. Soak a sturdy kitchen towel with vinegar and wrap it around any areas with a lot 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 with citric acid. Just fill your kettle with plain water, add half a lemon, and boil it a few times. This should remove limescale and leave your kettle smelling of lemon! Again, you might want to rinse and boil with clean water a couple of times before you next use your kettle. 

How to descale a kettle with bicarbonate of soda

Another easy way to remove limescale from a kettle is using bicarbonate of soda. Before going ahead, make sure your appliance is switched off and unplugged for your safety.

  1. Mix one teaspoon of baking soda with 500ml of water.
  2. Pour the solution into the kettle and boil for 15 minutes, then leave for another 15 minutes.
  3. Empty the kettle and rinse with cold water.
  4. Or if you don’t want to wait, create a paste with a teaspoon of baking soda and a little water and stir till thickened. Scrub the kettle with the paste using a toothbrush until the limescale comes off. Rinse and boil again as needed.

How to decalcify kettle exteriors

Now the water you’re boiling is limescale-free, you can make the outside of your kettle look just as clean. To clean limescale outside a kettle, soak strong sheets of kitchen towel in vinegar as before 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 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 some delicious and limescale-free water. Maybe make a not-so-subtle hint to your housemate or partner about how you deserve a cup of tea after your hard work. 

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