Yes, You Should Be Cleaning Your Tea Kettle—Here's How

Don't worry, it's easy to do.

A female hand in a rubber yellow glove wipes a blue teapot with a rag.
Photo: Irina Tiumentseva/Getty Images

If your favorite cup of tea is tasting off, the problem may be your tea kettle. Whether you use an electric kettle or a stovetop kettle to heat water for tea, instant soup, or coffee, minerals from the water can get trapped inside, affecting the taste of your food or drinks. There is even a name for this buildup of minerals: kettle furring. Yuck.

Fortunately, cleaning a tea kettle and removing limescale is simple, and all you need are a few supplies you probably have on hand. Follow these steps to learn how to clean a tea kettle, the easy way.

How Often to Clean a Kettle

How often you clean your electric or stovetop kettle depends on how often you use it. After every use or at the end of the day, empty any remaining water. Wipe down the exterior weekly, or whenever splatters happen, to remove stains and fingerprints.

If you use your kettle daily, it should be thoroughly cleaned and descaled at least seasonally. For those who live in an area with hard water, you'll want to descale the kettle's interior once per month. If your electric tea kettle has a water filter cartridge, follow the manufacturer's recommendations for cleaning and replacement, or clean it at least once every other month.

What You'll Need

  • Distilled white vinegar, cleaning vinegar, or lemon juice
  • Baking soda
  • Degreasing dishwashing liquid (such as Dawn)
  • Non-abrasive sponge or soft-bristled brush
  • Microfiber cloth

How to Clean an Electric Tea Kettle

  1. Descale the kettle interior. Fill the kettle with a solution of 50 percent water and 50 percent distilled white vinegar, cleaning vinegar, or lemon juice. Turn on the kettle, bring the solution to a full boil, and then turn it off. Let the kettle sit for at least 20 minutes (longer is fine) before pouring out the solution.
  2. Clean the water filter. Unplug the kettle. If your model has a water filter, remove it. Clean or replace the filter following the manufacturer's directions. Most filters can be cleaned by soaking them in a solution of one part water to one part distilled white vinegar. Then wash the filter with hot, soapy water.
  3. Scrub away mineral deposits. To clean the inside of the kettle, use a soft-bristled brush or sponge to scrub away any mineral buildup that remains inside. Dip the brush or sponge in pure distilled vinegar to help dislodge any minerals that have accumulated around the spout.
  4. Clean the exterior. When washing the outside of the kettle, never submerge it in water. This will damage the heating element. Mix some warm water and a few drops of dishwashing liquid. Dip the sponge in the soapy solution and wipe down the exterior. If there are tough splatters, dip the damp sponge in some dry baking soda and use to scrub the exterior, removing stuck-on messes.
  5. Buff clean. Finish cleaning the exterior by wiping the surface with a lint-free cloth. If you have a stainless steel kettle, you can put a small drop of olive oil on the cloth and rub the exterior of the kettle for a streak-free shine.
  6. Rinse the kettle. Reassemble the kettle and fill it with water. Bring the water to a boil and then pour it out. This rinse cycle will get rid of any remaining vinegar and loose minerals.

How to Clean a Stovetop Tea Kettle

  1. Descale the kettle interior. Fill the kettle with a solution of 50 percent water and 50 percent distilled white vinegar, cleaning vinegar, or lemon juice. Place the kettle on the stovetop and bring the solution to a full boil. Turn off the stove and let the kettle sit for at least 20 minutes (longer is fine) to descale the minerals from the inside. Discard the solution.
  2. Remove mineral deposits. To clean the inside of the kettle, use a soft-bristled brush or sponge to scrub away any mineral buildup that remains inside. Dip the brush or sponge in pure vinegar to help dislodge any minerals that have accumulated around the inside spout opening, the spout tip, and the edges of the lid.
  3. Clean the exterior. To clean the outside of the kettle and lid, mix some warm water and a few drops of dishwashing liquid. Dip the sponge in the soapy solution and wipe down the exterior. For splatters and greasy residue from the stovetop, dip the damp sponge in some dry baking soda and scrub gently. Rinse well.
  4. Remove stubborn residue. If the outside is very dirty, fill the sink with hot water and some dishwashing liquid. Submerge the kettle and allow it to soak for at least 30 minutes before cleaning, following the directions in Step 3.
  5. Rinse. Fill the kettle with water and bring it to a boil. This is the final rinse cycle to get rid of any remaining cleaning solution and loose minerals. Pour out the water.
  6. Dry. Complete the kettle cleaning by drying the exterior with a lint-free cloth. If you have a stainless steel kettle, put a small drop of olive oil on the cloth and rub the exterior of the kettle for a streak-free shine.

Tip: To clean the exterior of a tarnished copper tea kettle, cut a lemon in half, dip it in salt, then use it to rub the surface of the kettle back to a shine. Rinse thoroughly and dry.

How to Clean the Outside of a Burnt Tea Kettle

We've all done it: Forgotten a tea kettle or pan heating on the stove and now the bottom is burnt. With a bit of elbow grease, you can clean a burnt tea kettle and restore its shine.

  1. Soak the kettle. Fill the sink with hot water and a few drops of degreasing dishwashing liquid. Put the stovetop kettle in the solution and let it soak for at least 20 minutes (but for longer is even better), until the water cools.
  2. Sprinkle on baking soda. Remove the kettle from the water and sprinkle it with baking soda. Dampen a soft-bristled brush or a sponge with water and squirt on a bit of dishwashing liquid.
  3. Scrub in small circles. Rinse your brush or sponge as the blackened mess is transferred. Rinse the kettle thoroughly.
  4. Repeat the process. If stains remain, repeat the soaking and scrubbing steps. Or, make a paste of baking soda and a few drops of vinegar (there will be fizzing) to remove the final bits of burned-on mess.

How to Keep Your Tea Kettle Clean for Longer

  • Empty your electric or stovetop tea kettle after every use. (Don't waste the water, use it to water plants or rinse out the sink.)
  • For stovetop tea kettles, learn to control the heat of your stove, and never wander off while you are heating water.
  • To prevent a greasy tea kettle, clean your stovetop regularly to get rid of messes. Remove the kettle from the stovetop when you are frying or sautéing foods that splatter.

Read Next: How to Clean a Keurig Coffee Maker the Right Way

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