How to Clean An Electric Kettle

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How to clean an electric kettle at home with vinegar, citric acid, or lemon juice to improve the lifespan, descale the kettle, and improve the performance of this well-used kitchen item!

Freshly cleaning kettle

Having lived in London with its hard water for YEARS, I’m no stranger to the nasty build-up of mineral deposits that can build up inside a kettle (aka kettle “furring”). I’ll even admit that once (sorry!) I threw away a kettle that I thought was beyond saving. If I’d learned how to clean an electric kettle and descale it back then, I have a sneaky suspicion it would have lasted a little longer – we live and learn!

The truth is, we often think of kettles as self-cleaning since they’re used for boiling water. However, that does nothing to rid the kettle of the white chalky deposits. If your kettle doesn’t have a filter, eventually, you’ll end up with bits floating in your morning tea/coffee, too (eww!).

Before and after cleaning a kettle nozzle

Having moved from London late last year to an area with even harder water (eep!), I finally decided to get my act together and learn how to clean my kettle, not just for moving, but because it can improve the performance and avoid shortening their lifespan too – a win-win situation!

In fact, a clean kettle is also actually better for the environment. It uses less energy, boils quicker, and keeps your kettle going for longer! This is great – especially considering we use the kettle for everything here in the UK: boiling water for tea, instead of boiling on the stovetop, for ‘instant’ products like oats and noodles, etc.

I’ve already shared methods for how to clean an oven and microwave too! Below I’ll show you my personal method for kettle descaling. I’ve also included two bonus methods that my readers have shared with me!

How To Clean Electric Kettle with Vinegar

Needed to clean a kettle

What You Need

  • Acidic element: white vinegar or citric acid, or lemon juice (all methods mentioned below).
  • Water: you can use tap water for this or distilled water to eliminate ‘hard water’ from the cleaning process.
  • Baking soda: just a bit is needed to help clean the nozzle of the kettle.
  • Sponge/brush: use the harder side of a non-abrasive sponge or a brush like a bottle brush.
  • Cloth: like a microfiber cloth or any cleaning cloth.

The White Vinegar Method

First, fill your kettle about 1/2- 3/4 full with equal parts vinegar and water. If your kettle already had water in it, drain it first and start with fresh water.

Filling a kettle with water

You can do this in a measuring jug if it’s easier to measure out the two elements accurately.

Bring the mixture to a boil and then allow the kettle to sit for 15 minutes. If the kettle was really ‘furry’ with deposits, then you can leave it for up to an hour.

Boiling water in a kettle

Pour the vinegar water down the sink and rinse the kettle well. Make sure to also rinse the kettle filter (if it has one) at this point too. Leave it to soak in a hot vinegar-water solution for 5-10 minutes to start the process if needed then scrub lightly with a sponge/brush.

Add fresh water to the kettle and boil once more – twice if needed, alone or with a little lemon juice – and this will help remove the vinegar smell and deodorize the kettle.

Before and after cleaning a kettle

If your kettle was particularly “furry,” then you may need a little (just a little!) scrubbing power with a clean, non-scratch scrubber.

At the same time, feel free to clean the outside of the kettle – the main thing is never to immerse an electric kettle in water otherwise the heating element at the bottom can become damaged. I like to use a little natural cleaning spray and just spray and wipe around the kettle for in-between cleans. However, at this point, you can use a cloth dipped into the warm vinegar-water solution and wipe over the exterior of the kettle. Alternatively, you can use a half lemon and rub the outside of the kettle. Then just wipe it clean with a dry cloth.

Cleaning the outside of kettle with lemon

To Clean Kettle With Citric Acid

  • Fill the kettle around 1/2 full and boil.
  • Once boiled, add 1-2 Tbsp citric acid powder (lower amount if it’s not TOO bad, higher amount if it needs a little extra power).
  • Allow it to sit and do its thing for 15 minutes, then discard and do any further scrubbing if needed.
  • Boil new lots of water TWICE before using the kettle again when using citric acid.

You can use fresh lemon juice instead of powdered citric acid – however, it will need to be used at a 1:1 ratio, so I usually avoid this as I’d rather use my lemons for other things. If your kettle isn’t too dirty, I suggest squeezing all the juice into a half-filled kettle slicing up the remaining lemon, and adding it to the kettle before bringing it to a boil.

Shiny interior of a kettle

To Clean the Kettle Nozzle

If your kettle has a wide nozzle, you can also easily clean it. Unfortunately, pouring out the vinegar or citric acid solution will not dislodge all the build-ups on it. However, you can use a small sponge or a microfiber cloth to get a bit of baking soda and vinegar (or lemon juice) into the nozzle of the kettle. Leave the cloth with baking soda “stuffed” into the nozzle for 10-15 minutes and then wipe well.

Cleaning the nozzle of a kettle

Top Tips For Maintaining Electric Kettle

  • You can actually purchase small kettle protectors/descalers that look a little like a cylinder of wire mesh. All you have to do is place it in your kettle, and somehow, the mineral deposits cling to it. You can then clean it with vinegar when cleaning the filter and re-use it.
  • Don’t allow water to sit in the kettle. I’m guilty of this. I like there to be water waiting for me whenever needed. However, this can actually cause the deposits to build up quicker. Instead, try to only add enough water to the kettle that you need.
  • If you live in an area with hard water, you could use distilled or filtered water to eliminate issues with mineral deposit build-up. I like to avoid bottled water when possible and reduce my plastic usage.
  • This method will work for metal and plastic kettles.
  • How often to clean an electric kettle? This really depends on how often you use your kettle and how hard the water is where you live. If it’s getting daily use and you live in an area with hard water, I’d do this every 3-4 months.
  • To clean the outside of a kettle: You can use a damp cloth with just a few drops of dish soap or use an all-natural cleaner and wipe it down with a damp cloth.
Freshly cleaned kettle in a sink

Other Kitchen DIYs

If you try this method to clean a kettle, then let me know your thoughts and questions in the comments. I’d also love to see how well it works for you in your own kettle – just tag @AlphaFoodie.

How To Clean An Electric Kettle

5 from 6 votes
By: Samira
How to clean an electric kettle at home with vinegar, citric acid, or lemon juice to improve the lifespan, descale the kettle, and improve the performance of this well-used kitchen item!
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients 
 

  • 1 cup water or more depending on kettle size
  • 1 cup vinegar or more depending on kettle size
  • lemon juice optional, to remove the vinegar smell or to clean the outside
  • 1 tsp baking soda to clean the nozzle

Instructions 

To Clean Kettle With Vinegar

  • Fill your kettle about 1/2- 3/4 full with equal parts vinegar and water. If your kettle already had water in it, drain it and start with fresh water.
    You can do this in a measuring jug if it's easier to measure out the two elements accurately.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil and then allow the kettle to sit for 15 minutes. If the kettle was really 'furry' with deposits then you can leave it for up to an hour.
  • Pour the vinegar water down the sink and rinse the kettle well. Make sure to also clean and rinse the kettle filter (if it has one) at this point too. Leave it to soak in a hot vinegar-water solution for 5-10 minutes to start the process if needed then scrub with the back of a sponger or brush.
  • Add fresh water to the kettle and boil once more – twice if needed- (alone or with a little lemon juice) and this will help to remove the vinegar smell and deodorize the kettle.
    If your kettle was particularly 'furry' then you may need a little (just a little!) scrubbing power with a clean, non-scratch scrubber.
  • At the same time, feel free to clean the outside of the kettle – the main thing is never to immerse an electric kettle in water otherwise the heating element at the bottom can become damaged. I like to use a little natural cleaning spray and just spray and wipe around the kettle for in-between cleans. However, at this point, you can use a cloth dipped into the warm vinegar-water solution and simply wipe over the exterior of the kettle.

To Clean Kettle With Citric Acid

  • Fill the kettle around 1/2 full and boil.
  • Once boiled, add 1-2 Tbsp citric acid powder (lower amount if it's not TOO bad, higher amount if it's in need of some more serious cleaning ).
  • Allow it to sit and do its thing for 15 minutes then discard and do any further scrubbing if needed.
  • Boil lots of new water TWICE before using the kettle again when using citric acid.
  • You could also use fresh lemon juice instead of powdered citric acid – however, it will need to be used at a 1:1 ratio so I usually avoid this as I'd rather use my lemons for other things. If your kettle isn't too dirty then I suggest squeezing all the juice into a half-filled kettle slicing up the remaining lemon and adding it to the kettle before bringing it to a boil.

To Clean the Kettle Nozzle

  • If your kettle has a wide nozzle, you can also easily clean it. Unfortunately, pouring out the vinegar or citric acid solution will not dislodge all the build-ups on it. However, you can use a small sponge or a microfiber cloth to get a bit of baking soda and vinegar (or lemon juice) into the nozzle of the kettle. Leave the cloth with baking soda "stuffed" into the nozzle for 10-15 minutes and then wipe well.

Notes

  • You can actually purchase small kettle protectors/descalers that look a little like a cylinder of wire mesh, which you place in your kettle and somehow the mineral deposits cling to it. You can then clean it with vinegar when cleaning the filter and re-use it.
  • Don’t allow water to sit in the kettle: I’m guilty of this. I like there to be water waiting for me whenever needed. However, this can actually cause the deposits to build up quicker. Instead, try to only add enough water to the kettle that you need.
  • If you live in an area with hard water, you could use distilled or filtered water to eliminate issues with mineral deposit build-up. I like to avoid bottled water when possible and reduce my plastic usage.
  • This method will work for metal and plastic kettles.
  • How often to clean an electric kettle? This really depends on how often you use your kettle and how hard the water is where you live. If it’s getting daily use and you live in an area with hard water then I’d do this every 3-4 months.
  • To clean the outside of a kettle: You can use a damp cloth with just a few drops of dish soap or use an all-natural cleaning spray and wipe it down with a damp cloth. Alternatively, you can use half a lemon and rub the outside of the kettle. 
Course: DIYs

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