How to descale a kettle—tips for how to clean a kettle to get rid of limescale

See our method and top tips for how to descale a kettle

a kettle boiling
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Nothing beats a good cup of tea or coffee in the morning to help us wake up - or as a way to wind down in the evening. But the one thing guaranteed to put us off a comforting brew, is reaching for our kettle and spotting scummy limescale clogging up the machine. Here's how to descale a kettle so you can enjoy your drink limescale free.

Harveys Water Softeners explain that limescale - the white flakey looking material that might be sat on the inside of your kettle - is most often caused by hard water. Inside hard water is calcium or magnesium, and when you boil the water inside the kettle, it spreads across it and, essentially, sticks to it. 

You'll likely find most limescale inside your kettle, as flakes of white material. But you might also find it on the outside of your kettle too, or on the rim of the kettle where you place the lid. 

Limescale isn't generally harmful (so it won't matter too much if you drink a bit with your tea), but longterm exposure to lots of it isn't exactly healthy. Plus, the residue can actually eat away at your kettle, which may mean you need to replace it more often. 

So how do you descale a kettle - and how can you prevent limescale from returning? 

How to descale a kettle

Descaling your kettle if you've noticed build-up is actually fairly simple, and can be achieved in just four easy steps - and, using ingredients you probably already have in your cupboard at home.

1. Add equal parts vinegar and water

We'd suggest adding half white vinegar, and half cold water to the machine. Fill it until the machine is almost full, just making sure you use equal quantities of both liquids. This combination will work at cleaning off the limescale - because vinegar is naturally acidic, and so can easily dissolve mineral deposits, dirt, or grime. 

You can also use this combination when learning how to clean an iron, which can also experience a limescale build-up.

2. Or, you can use lemon juice

If you don't have any vinegar at home, Lynsey Crombie, cleaning expert and the 'Queen of Clean', explains that you can also use lemon juice. She said, "You can use shop-bought lemon juice that you get from the cooking aisle or citric acid, and simply use the same method."

Simply pour equal parts water and equal parts lemon juice into the machine and leave it to work its magic. 

3. Leave it in there for as long as possible

Once you've added the mixture in, leave it in there for at least an hour - but ideally overnight. The longer it can sit in there the better. However, make sure you complete this process at a time when no one will need to use the kettle - and be sure to tell your household that the kettle is out of bounds whilst it's happening!

Or, if you're short on time, Lynsey advises that leaving it for just 20 minutes is enough to get them sparkling clean you're after.

4. Come back to it and boil the kettle

Whenever you come back to the kettle, we'd suggest boiling the mixture inside in order to get rid of as much limescale as possible. Then, pour it away down the sink after it has boiled - and be prepared for a bit of a vinegary stench!

Kettle, woman pouring kettle

(Image credit: Getty Images)

5. Rinse!

Then, you'll want to make sure you rinse the kettle out as thoroughly as possible to get rid of any unpleasant vinegar smell before your morning cup of tea. Boil it a few times with fresh water (water only!) in there, and wipe it down with a clean dry cloth to ensure it's good to go once again. And there you have it - a fully descaled kettle.

How often should we descale the kettle?

No one wants their kettle full of vinegar on a regular basis, so how often do you actually need to descale our kettle in order to keep it in tip-top shape? Thankfully, it's not that often.

According to Lynsey Crombie, descaling a kettle is "a task to be added to our monthly cleaning schedule."

But of course, it likely also depends on how full of limescale your kettle may be. If you live in a particularly bad hard water area, you may feel your kettle needs cleaning more often, as it will likely build up that much more limescale. 

In conclusion, once a month is a great target if you're looking for some guidance on how to descale your kettle - and how often.

How to prevent limescale

Our kettles needs to be cleaned and maintained in the same way we'd take care of other kitchen appliances - such as blenders and food processors

Preventing limescale in a kettle can be tricky, but it is possible to reduce it within your kettle by doing a few simple things. You can work to prevent limescale by: 

  • Filtering your water before putting it into your kettle, to try and eradicate the minerals that cause build-up, according to Lynsey.
  • Drying your kettle after use as much as possible.
  • Install a soft water filter into your home, so you are filling your kettle up with soft water instead.

Taking care of your kettle requires regularly descaling it, cleaning it, and if possible, using filtered water to make your daily cup of tea or coffee.

So get cleaning and brew away!

Amy Hunt
Amy Hunt

Amy Hunt is an experienced digital journalist, currently working as Life Channel Editor at She began as the magazine's features assistant before moving over to digital as a News and Features Writer, before becoming Senior Writer, and now a Channel Editor. She has worked on other women's lifestyle websites previously too—including Woman's Weekly,, Woman, and Woman's Own. In 2019, Amy won the Digital Journalist of the Year award at the AOP Awards, for her work on 

She is obsessive about everything homes and interiors—whether she's sniffing out the very best deal on a KitchenAid stand mixer or keeping up the latest Dyson release. And when she isn't editing or writing articles on interior trends or the latest home gadgets, she's passionate about books—you'll usually find her with her nose in a gripping thriller at the end of the working day.