Even if you only use filtered water in your kettle, you’ll eventually end up with some mineral buildup. That’s nothing to be concerned about, but if you allow enough of it to form it will be difficult to get rid of.
Removing lime and calcium buildup is actually not that challenging if you do it regularly. However, unless you scrub the kettle vigorously every time you use it, some will inevitably remain. By the time it becomes visible, you’ll need some extra help. Luckily, there are a few great solutions out there.
The first and most straightforward is to use vinegar in a 1:1 combination with water. Prepare enough of the mixture to fill your kettle.
Fill your kettle with the water and vinegar and set it to boil. Once the water hits boiling point, you don’t need to keep it there for long. After a few minutes, you can remove it and discard the vinegar solution. Then, take a scrub brush and scrub out the inside of the kettle. If you don’t have a brush that fits the opening on your kettle, you can get a brush for cleaning baby bottles from most supermarkets.
Alternatively, you can use a sponge if you can fit your hand in the kettle. But, if you have a stainless steel or copper kettle, don’t use an abrasive pad; it will scratch the inside of the kettle and make it easier for more lime to build up.
If there’s any residual lime, fill the kettle with pure vinegar and let it sit overnight. The acetic acid in the vinegar is strong enough to dissolve calcium and lime given enough time. After about 12 hours, discard the vinegar and wipe off the scale with a soft cloth.
Lemon or lime juice can work just as well but juicing all those limes or lemons may not be worth the effort! Instead, you can buy any commercially available juice.
You’re going to follow a similar process as the one you did with the vinegar. The proportions will be slightly different, though. You only need to use about 50ml to every 500ml of water. In fact, some people find that using both the juice and vinegar produces better results.
Boil the solution for a few minutes and let it sit until it cools completely. The juice will need a little more time than the vinegar to work its magic. After it’s cooled, discard the solution and scrub out the residue. It shouldn’t take much effort. The citric acid is quite aggressive on calcium and lime.
Yes, you read that right — cola can be quite effective at removing lime buildup in your kettle. It’s also great for a variety of household tasks. It can also remove rust, clean battery terminals, grout mold, and many other things. It almost makes you wonder why we drink the stuff!
The reason it cleans so well is the same reason why we actually drink it. It contains phosphoric acid. Phosphoric acid in the right concentration is part of what gives cola its flavor. It also, like most acids, dissolves the minerals present in hard water that are staining your tea kettle.
For this method, you’ll need enough cola to fill the kettle and maybe a little more. Fill the kettle to capacity and set it to boil. You’re going to keep it boiling for about thirty minutes. If the level of the cola decreases too much, add some more and bring back to a boil.
After that, let it stand for another 30 minutes or so before discarding the cola. Then, simply scrub out the inside, all the lime buildup should come off easily. Rinse it out several times with cold water and dry it with a soft cloth.
If all else fails, you can always use a commercial calcium and lime cleaner to get the job done. This probably won’t be necessary except for the most stubborn cases of years-old residue.
A household cleaner such as Calcium Lime and Rust, or any other brand can be used to great effect. Look for these in the cleaning aisles of any supermarket. They’re usually a combination of various acids, so you’ll want to use rubber gloves when using it.
Follow the instructions on the product to be sure, but generally a mixture of equal parts water and cleaner applied liberally to the inside of the kettle will be effective. Let it sit for about 30 minutes and then rinse out thoroughly with warm, then cold water.
Rinse it several times to make sure none of the product remains. You probably won’t have to do much scrubbing as the lime will be completely dissolved.
Some people find that a couple of marbles help in preventing the build-up in the first place. The two marbles are placed in the kettle and they allegedly collect the minerals from the water rather than letting them end up on the kettle.
Another good tip is to only use filtered water in the kettle. Filtered water has fewer dissolved solids so there’s less of them to end up in the kettle.
These are some of the best methods for descaling your kettle when the lime and calcium starts to show. Generally speaking, most acids will get the job done. The most easily accessible acids for most people are vinegar and lime juice so that’s what you’ll end up using most of the time.
The more time you give the acids to work, the easier it will be to clean. If you have severe buildup, or you inherited a kettle that hasn’t been cleaned in many years, you should resort to a commercial cleaner to get the job done rather than put yourself through all the work of repeating the vinegar process over and over.