How to Descale a Kettle Naturally
Chemical-Free, Guilt-Free Solution to Unsightly Limescale
If your family is anything like mine, the kettle is something that goes on several times a day. If you live in a hard water area, this kind of usage means that before long the inside of your kettle can start to develop a thick layer of limescale.
Not only does it look unsightly, but if it gets really bad chunks of limescale can start to break off and end up in your hot drinks. Not nice!
So, what's the best way to descale a kettle? Whilst there are many chemical descalers on the market that do an excellent job, I'm somewhat averse to putting chemicals in a kettle in case any remain after use. Not only that, but I'm trying to have less of an impact on the environment of late, so I prefer natural methods where possible. Luckily the method I detail below works better than most chemicals, meaning guilt-free, perfect results.
How to Descale an Electric Kettle Without Chemicals
- Empty the kettle completely so there is no water left in it. Some kettles have removable plastic filters in them (to catch bits of limescale and stop it falling into your drink). If your kettle has one and it is removable, remove it now so that it is not damaged by the process.
- Find some vinegar. Theoretically, the best type of vinegar to use for this is white vinegar; however, I have used malt vinegar (my kitchen smelt like fish and chips afterwards!) and also a bottle of rice wine vinegar that was in the back of my cupboard and had gone out of date. Both worked just fine, although I think the malt vinegar was better.
- Work out where on your kettle the limescale comes up to. If your kettle is not badly scaled, it may just be the bottom that has scale on it. If it hasn't been descaled in a long time (or ever), it may go all the way up the sides. Fill the kettle to the point where all the limescale you want to remove is covered. Only areas covered by the solution will be descaled.
- Pour the water that you have just added to the kettle into a measuring jug to see how much solution you need. For instance: If it took 500ml to cover all the scale, this is how much solution you'll need. Then, pour half the water into the sink. So, if you need 500ml to cover the scale, pour 250ml away out of the jug.
- Now, fill the jug back up to the original point with vinegar so that you have a 50/50 vinegar-water solution. Don't make it any stronger than this, or you might cause damage to the kettle. Equally, if it's less strong it may not be as effective.
- Tip this solution into the kettle and leave it for a minimum of one hour. Personally, I prefer to leave the solution 3-4 hours, or even overnight if possible, particularly if the scaling is bad.
- Once the time is up, put the kettle on to boil. Be warned—the smell of the vinegar is quite pungent at this point! You might want to open a window.
- Leave the kettle until it has fully cooled. At this point, the scale should have either dissolved or come away from the edge of the kettle. You can now fully wash the kettle with fresh, cold water to remove all the loose bits of scale and vinegar.
- Once you are satisfied that all the scale is gone (and I did once need to repeat this when a kettle had been in my daughter's college house for five years without being cleaned) and the vinegar has been rinsed away, fill the kettle to the maximum level with fresh water and boil it. This will help ensure there is no lingering smell of vinegar. Tip this water away, and your clean and sparking kettle is ready to use!
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© 2019 Rachel Thomas