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How To Clean An Electric Kettle: Getting Rid of the Gunk Naturally

Don’t you just hate it when you get to the bottom of your cup and your last mouthful of tea is full of sediment from your kettle?  Yuck!  The good news is that it’s simple and easy to get rid of.  If this has ever happened to you, this post is for you.

The easiest way to clean and descale the inside of an electric kettle is with a mixture of white vinegar and water.  The vinegar dissolves the sediment buildup without using any toxic chemicals. 

Since most people have vinegar in their pantry, this method is the simplest and quickest way to get your electric kettle ready to make your next cup of tea.  Read on for the easy instructions so you can get back to enjoying your favorite hot drink.

What’s the White Stuff in a Tea Kettle?

If you have an electric kettle, white residue in the bottom is the cause of the white bits at the bottom of your cup. This white stuff is a buildup called limescale.

What is Limescale?

Limescale is the buildup that happens on the inside of your kettle whether it’s an electric or a stovetop model.  This hard, chalky sediment is calcium buildup that gets left behind when you boil water for coffee or tea.  As the water evaporates, it leaves behind minerals that eventually build up.  

Is the White Stuff in a Tea Kettle Dangerous?

The “official” name of limescale is calcium carbonate. Before this sediment chips off, it can look like little spots on the bottom of an electric kettle.

While limescale isn’t harmful to drink, when the chalky bits chip off, they can get poured out of your kettle and into your cup.   I don’t know about you, but I don’t like crunchy tea. 

What is Kettle Furring?

Kettle furring is just another name for the sediment that builds up inside your kettle.  It sounds even worse than limescale though!

What’s the Green Stuff at the Bottom of My Kettle?

While limescale is mostly white, if you have water that’s high in iron, you can have a greenish sediment buildup in your water boiler. Don’t worry, it’s not mold (mold couldn’t survive boiling water), and it’s not harmful. You can remove it the same way as you remove other built up sediment.

How to Clean Electric Kettles Without Chemicals

There are several non-toxic ways to keep the inside of your kettle free of sediment buildup.  All of the non-toxic methods involve using some kind of acid, like vinegar or lemon juice, both of which help to dissolve and remove the buildup.  

Some people also swear by using Coca Cola to clean their kettles, so if you have a bottle of Coke that’s gone flat, you may want to give it a try instead of throwing it away.

how to clean tea kettle

How to Clean a Water Boiler with Vinegar

You just need a few items to clean your favorite electric kettle that you probably already have in your kitchen at home:  white vinegar, water, and a bottle brush.

Step 1:  Fill and Let Sit

Dump out any water that’s currently in your kettle.  Add equal parts of white vinegar and water to your kettle.  The amount you use depends on the size of your kettle. I usually use 12 ounces of vinegar and 12 ounces of water.   Let the mixture sit for an hour. 

Step 2:  Bring to a Boil

After an hour, turn your kettle on and bring the mixture to a boil.  You may want to turn on a fan or open a window since the fumes can be a bit strong.

Step 3:  Let Sit Again

Once your kettle has come to a boil, let it sit and soak for one hour. 

Step 4:  Empty, Scrub and Rinse

Empty your kettle, and scrub out any remaining bits if needed.  Rinse your kettle well to remove any chalky bits that may have come loose.  Wipe down the outside.

Step 5:  Run a Plain Water Cycle

Fill your kettle with plain water and heat to boiling.   Dump out and repeat until you can’t smell the vinegar.

Step 6:  Sit Down and Relax with a Cup of Tea

Now that you’re all done, make yourself a hot cup of tea to celebrate!

How To Clean Electric Kettle Inside Without Vinegar

The process of cleaning your kettle with lemons is nearly the same as above:

  • Juice a lemon and cut it into pieces
  • Fill your kettle with water, add the juice and the cut pieces and let sit for an hour.
  • Bring to a boil and let sit for another hour.
  • Dump out the contents, scrub any remaining sediment with a brush and rinse well.  

How to Clean a Kettle with Coke

Cleaning your kettle with Coca-Cola is almost exactly the same as cleaning with vinegar except you don’t dilute the coke.  

  • Fill your kettle with Coke, and let sit for an hour. 
  • Bring to a boil and let sit for another hour.  
  • Dump out the contents, scrub any remaining sediment with a brush and rinse well.  

Why You Should Remove Limescale From Your Kettle

Even if you don’t mind the chalky bits in your cup, limescale can shorten the life of your kettle, especially if you have an older model with an exposed heating element.  

A kettle with a thick limescale buildup takes longer to heat water and uses more energy than a clean kettle.

Some kettles come with filters attached to the spout to stop those bits from being poured out.  But if yours doesn’t, you’ll need to make sure your kettle’s limescale buildup stays in check. 

Did you wait too long and your kettle is beyond de-gunking? Take a look at my favorite electric kettles if you’re shopping for a new one.

naturally clean tea kettle

How Often Should I Clean my Kettle?

Inside:  Clean the inside of your kettle at least every few months.  If you live in an area with hard water, you may need to descale your kettle more often than others.  If your kettle gets a ton of use, you may also need to clean more often. 

Exterior:  Wipe down the outside of your kettle at least once a week.  I give mine a quick wipedown every night when I’m tidying up my kitchen counters. 

How to Prevent Limescale in Kettles

If you’re wondering how to prevent limescale in your kettle, there are a few things that you can do to help you go longer between cleanings.

  1. If you have extremely hard water, try using bottled water.
  2. Only boil as much water as you need.
  3. Empty your kettle completely each time you use it.
  4. Leave the top open so it can air out between uses.
  5. Clean regularly to keep the buildup to a minimum.

The Takeaway:  Cleaning your Kettle is Simple with Vinegar

So there you have it, keep a bottle of plain white vinegar in your cupboard at the ready when you first start to see the limescale building up in your kettle.  If you remember to give your electric kettle a quick cleaning with vinegar every couple of months you shouldn’t be bothered by those floating chalky bits in your tea. 

For a beverage that we love so much, it does seem to create a lot of cleaning opportunities! If you have white teacups that have been stained, check out this post on how to remove tea stains from cups. It’s really simple to do with products you probably already have in your pantry.

If you have a fancy silver teapot you like to use on special occasions for your tea, you’ll want to follow these instructions in my how to clean silver plate without harsh chemicals post.

If you love tea as much as I do, pin this how to descale a kettle post to your favorite tea-loving Pinterest board and pass it on for others to enjoy! Pinkies up!

how to clean electric kettle