How do I descale a kettle and keep it clean?
As a nation of tea lovers that drink literally millions of cups of the stuff every day, the quality of our kettle water is incredibly important. The phrase “put the kettle on” has become synonymous with British culture for a reason, after all.
But anyone who has used the same kettle for a few months and lives in an area with notoriously “hard” water will have noticed the limescale that accumulates inside your kettle over time. Limescale is off-white coloured calcium and magnesium deposit that gets left behind when water containing lots of bacteria evaporates.
While it is not harmful to ingest, it will shorten the lifespan of your kettle and can affect the quality of your water and your cuppa, giving it a slight unappealing metallic flavour.
Descaling your kettle, however, is a relatively painless task that should be undertaken every few months. Here are three of the more common methods that have been used by housewives and househusbands across the globe for generations.
Descaling your kettle
The three methods below all work similarly. The first step is to manually remove as much of the free-floating limescale as you can, which you can do simply by swilling your kettle out or using a scouring brush. You should also rinse the filter under a cold tap until you remove as much limescale as possible.
Bicarbonate of soda – Fill the kettle around 75% of the way to the fill line and then add a large tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda and set it to boil. The logic here is that the bicarbonate of soda acts as an acidic element to remove the limescale that’s stuck to the metal parts of your kettle. Once the kettle has boiled, allow it to sit for around an hour and let the chemicals do their work. Then pour it out, rinse and fill the kettle and boil it once more to remove any lingering flavours.
White vinegar – The second and perhaps most infamous descaling method is to use distilled white vinegar. Here you should fill your kettle around half and half with water and vinegar before boiling it. You should then pout the water out (no need to let it linger this time) and repeat the steps as many times as is necessary.
Kettle descaler – The ‘nuclear’ option would be to abandon the old wives’ tales and order a bespoke kettle descaler such as Ecozone. This is made from citric acid and requires you to simply add a sachet of the solution to your kettle with some water before boiling it.
Of course, prevention is always better than the cure. As such, the most thorough way to ensure your kettle remains limescale free is to only fill it with filtered water. The filtration process removes all of the calcium-magnesium from the water which leads to limescale build-up.