Electric kettles are convenient and easy to use. Just add water and in minutes you have boiling water for tea, instant soups, recipes, or cleaning. Because the kettle has a pouring spout, it is even more convenient than the microwave. But as with any small appliance, it does need a bit of cleaning to keep the interior and exterior in top shape. Removing any mineral build-up, bacteria and mold are vital for great-tasting hot water.
The build-up of minerals inside a kettle from water is called kettle furring. It tastes almost as disgusting as it sounds. Luckily, cleaning is simple with just a few products you probably have in the pantry.
How Often to Clean an Electric Kettle
The frequency of cleaning will depend upon how often you use your kettle. The exterior should be wiped down to remove smudges and splatters at least once a week. If you are using it daily to heat water, the kettle should be descaled to remove hard water minerals at least four times a year. If the kettle has a water filter or cartridge, it should be cleaned every other month or as recommended by the manufacturer.
Equipment / Tools
- Non-abrasive sponge or bottle brush
- Microfiber cloth
- Distilled white vinegar, lemon juice or citric acid powder
- Baking soda
- Dishwashing liquid
- Olive oil (optional)
Descale the Kettle With Vinegar
Fill the kettle about one-half full with a 1:1 solution of water and distilled white vinegar. Bring the solution to a full boil. Turn off the kettle if it doesn't shut off automatically. Allow the vinegar solution to sit for at least 20 minutes. Discard the cleaning solution.
Descale the Kettle With Lemon Juice or Citric Acid Powder
You can substitute freshly-squeezed or bottled lemon juice or citric acid powder for the distilled white vinegar. Mix a 1:1 solution of lemon juice and water or use 2 tablespoons of citric acid powder in a half-full kettle of water and bring the solution to a boil. Turn off the kettle and allow the solution to sit for at least 20 minutes before discarding.
Unplug and Disassemble the Kettle
Before you clean any further, unplug the cooled kettle. If it has a water filter, remove it before cleaning the interior of the kettle.
Clean or Replace the Water Filter
If your model has a water filter or water filter cartridge, clean the removed filter following the manufacturer's directions. Most filters are metal and can be cleaned by soaking in a solution of hot water and distilled white vinegar for at least five minutes. Scrub with the bottle brush and rinse with fresh water.
Scrub the Inside of the Kettle
Use a non-abrasive sponge or soft-bristled bottle brush to scrub the inside of the kettle. This will loosen any mineral build-up that remains inside. Pay particular attention to areas around the spout where mineral build-up can be heavy. Dipping the brush or sponge in pure vinegar may help dislodge build-up around the spout.
Never fully emerge an electric kettle in water. This can destroy the heating element.
Clean the Exterior of the Kettle
Wipe down the exterior of the kettle with a non-abrasive sponge dipped in a solution of warm water and a few drops of dishwashing liquid to remove any smudges or splatters. For tough-to-remove spots, dip the damp sponge in some dry baking soda. The gentle abrasive nature of the baking soda will help remove the mess.
Once the exterior is clean, wipe the kettle dry with a microfiber cloth to prevent streaks.
Reassemble the Kettle and Do Final Rinses
Once the kettle is clean, reassemble any components and fill the kettle about half full with water for a final rinse. Plug it in and bring the water to a full boil. Discard the water.
Repeat the "rinse cycle" one more time to be sure that all of the cleaning solution and loose minerals are gone.
Tips for Keeping Your Electric Kettle Clean Longer
- Never leave water sitting in a kettle. Learn to heat only the amount of water you think you'll need for each use. Always empty all of the water after every use of the kettle. (Water plants or rinse out the sink with the leftover water.)
- Use distilled water rather than tap water. This is particularly important if you live in an area with hard water or use a natural well for your water supply.