Limescale in kettles ‘increases energy consumption’ – how to clean

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White vinegar hack for limescale explained by cleaning expert

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Many are guilty of only tackling the limescale building up in the bottom of their kettle when their cup of tea 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 people pay attention to the often-neglected chore. Cleaning experts and kettle manufacturers have shared their best advice.

The experts agreed that people should be aiming to descale their kettle on a monthly basis so that it boils more efficiently, in turn reducing 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). 

Heather Nixon, sustainability, NPD, and regulatory manager at green cleaning company Bio-D said: “How often you should descale a kettle depends on how often you use it – though a general rule is once a month. 

“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.”

Justin Shaw, Consumables Category Manager at Care+Protect, explained: “The energy consumption will vary based on the usage and type of kettle.

“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.

“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.

“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.”

While households can use professional descaling products to remove limescale, there is also a handy natural hack that many recommend – cleaning kettles with white vinegar.

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Smeg’s home economist, Clare Edwards is a fan of this approach. She explained: “The natural and highly effective way to descale your kettle is by using a solution of lemon or vinegar mixed with water. 

“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.”

Hayley Simmons, director of commercial range at Magnet also suggested using white vinegar to descale a kettle. She said: “Distilled white vinegar can be used to descale your kettle.

“Add your vinegar and bring it to a boil. Next, let it sit for an hour, then empty and rinse and your kettle should look brand new.”

To follow this method, begin by adding half white vinegar and half cold water to the kettle. Fill it until it 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. 

Leave it for an hour, but ideally overnight as the longer it can sit there the better. 

Just remember to 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.

If you’re short on time, however, Lynsey Crombie advised that even 20 minutes will do the trick. 

Whenever you come back to the kettle, boil 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. 

Rinse thoroughly to ensure your next hot beverage doesn’t have undertones of acidic vinegar flavouring. 

Britons can also use this method when tackling limescale on other areas such as taps, toilets, showers and irons, which can also experience a limescale buildup due to being in contact with water.

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