How to clean a kettle that’s covered in limescale

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

A red clean kettle boiling on the kitchen counter

How to descale a kettle that’s covered in limescale

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 descale kettles (decalcify) – and we have just the tips to help.

How often should you clean a kettle?

How often you need to descale your kettle depends on the hardness of the water in your area, and how regularly you use it. Generally speaking, if you use your kettle every day you should be descaling at least every two months. The more you let limescale build up, the more difficult it becomes to remove, and may shorten the life of your kettle.

Why is it important to remove limescale from a kettle?

Wondering why knowing the right way to clean a 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. Learning how to remove kettle limescale inside and out is the first step to getting 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.

How to descale a kettle with vinegar

If you’re looking to kettle-descale, vinegar is a great option and it also works for coffee machines. 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.

How to descale a kettle with lemon

Not a fan of vinegar? You can also clean a kettle with lemon, as citric acid is also great at removing limescale.

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 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 clean limescale outside a kettle

Now the water you’re boiling runs clear and fresh, 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.

Our top kettle descaling tip

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, why stop there? If you find yourself in a bit of a cleaning frenzy, check out our article on organising your kitchen.  Or if you’re done decalcifying, enjoy a fresh cup of tea (or coffee) and put your feet up. You’ve earned it.


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