We ask professionals how often you should descale your kettle and it's more often than you might think.
We're all guilty of only tackling the limescale building up in the bottom of the kettle when our cuppa is compromised by scaly flakes, but what if you knew that descaling your kettle can play a huge role in making boiling time more efficient, in turn meaning you use less energy? That might make more of us pay attention to the often-neglected chore.
We put the question to cleaning experts, kettle manufacturers, and descaling experts to see what the best advice is – and the results were unanimous. But similar to the answer to the questions of 'how often should you wash your towels' and 'how often should you wash your sheets,' the frequency is probably more than you might think.
Here the experts explain the benefits of doing the chore more often.
How often should you descale a kettle?
Our experts agreed that you should be aiming to descale your kettle on a monthly basis so that it boils more efficiently, in turn reducing your energy consumption. Of course, this is highly dependent on a number of factors, such as how regularly you use it and the softness of your water (more on that later).
“How often you should descale a kettle depends on how often you use it – though a general rule is once a month," advises Heather Nixon, sustainability, NPD, and regulatory manager at green cleaning company Bio-D (opens in new tab).
Heather goes on to explain, “as well as being easier to maintain if done regularly, keeping your kettle limescale-free actually helps it to boil quicker – saving on electricity consumption whilst reducing carbon emissions."
"The energy consumption will vary based on the usage and type of kettle," explains Justin Shaw, Consumables Category Manager at Care+Protect (opens in new tab). "Therefore, we recommend descaling your kettle monthly to keep it free from limescale, to improve the taste of your beverages. A monthly descaling treatment is also highly recommended to reduce energy consumption."
In terms of how much an average user will save on energy consumption, it’s hard to put a monetary value against it because it depends on the usage – for example, how many times the kettle boiled throughout the day, and also on the kettle itself. Some of the best kettles now will have lower boiling temperature options for different tea varieties and this can affect the usage also.
But with the rising cost of living on the rise and climate awareness, it's always worth considering more sustainable living choices . Limescale build-up slows down your kettles' efficiency, therefore using up more energy to boil the same amount of water.
While you can use professional descaling products as a highly-efficient way to remove limescale, there is also a handy natural hack that we recommend – cleaning with vinegar.
Smeg's (opens in new tab) home economist, Clare Edwards is also a fan of this approach. “The natural way to descale your kettle is by using a solution of lemon or vinegar mixed with water," she explains. "Boil this mixture in your kettle and leave it to stand for a while to break down and remove limescale, every four weeks. Opting for a kettle with a removable limescale filter in its spout also makes for simple cleaning.”
What happens if you don't descale your kettle?
As we've outlined above, if you don't descale your kettle often enough it will affect its efficiency and longevity. Longer boiling times also mean that you'll needlessly increase your energy consumption.
"Any increase in limescale (CaCO3) on a heater element means that your home appliances won’t work efficiently as limescale impedes the heater element from effectively heating the water," explains Justin.
"This is because the limescale acts like an insulator and the heater element has to work for longer to heat up the water in your kettle, meaning an increase in energy consumption during every use."
Why does my kettle need descaling so often?
If you find yourself descaling your kettle more frequently than most it will be because of your water softness. “How often you should descale also depends on the water in your area – areas with harder water need to descale more regularly," explains Heather.
"If you live in a hard water area it greatly increases the amount of limescale build-up on and within home appliances," agrees Justin. It could be that you look to descale your kettle twice monthly, but again, this will be dependant on how often you use it.
The best advice in this instance would be to check frequently to see if there's a build-up and react to that by following a certified method of descaling, as outlined above.
How do I know if my kettle needs descaling?
You'll know if your kettle needs descaling because the limescale build-up will be clearly visible on the inside and base of your kettle. The white compound you see is essentially a build-up over time of layers of mainly calcium and magnesium minerals that form a solid compound that can start to flake off into your freshly boiled water.
It's worth noting that while limescale in your kettle is unpleasant, for all intents and purposes, it is not actually harmful. However, it can dramatically affect the taste of your drinks and also, as previously stated, affect the functionality and energy consumption so it's always worth eliminating limescale in all your appliances – not just the kettle. Regularly taking time to remove limescale when cleaning your iron or cleaning your coffee maker will produce better results all around.
Tamara is a highly experienced homes and interiors journalist, with a career spanning 19 years. Now the Lifestyle Editor of womanandhome.com, she has spent the last 16 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, and it’s with these award-winning interiors teams that she gained a wealth of knowledge and honed her skills and passion for shopping, styling and writing about every aspect of lifestyle and interiors.
With a keen eye for the latest interior trends, there's not a lot she doesn't know about home decor – whether it’s what colour we should be painting our living rooms next season, or if the latest 'must-have' buys are actually worth investing in.
A true homes and interiors expert, Tamara has served as an ambassador for leading interior brands on multiple occasions, including appearing on Matalan’s The Show and presenting at top interiors trend events such as the Autumn Fair and Spring Fair.
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