Stainless steel tea kettles are a must for any household. After all, they are quite durable and long-lasting; you can literally use the same kettle for years, if not decades before it’s damaged beyond repair. However, in order to have that kind of longevity, the kettle requires constant care, which includes cleaning.

Of course, cleaning a product like that will require some hard work. Not all cleaning methods work well for certain types of stains or gunk, especially when it comes to stainless steel or even rust. This article will go over several strategies to help you get rid of some of the nastiest, most hardcore stains that your tea kettle might have. More specifically, we will focus on natural, organic, and non-polluting methods that anyone can apply within the comfort of their own home.

Limescale Explained

Anyone who has owned an old steel tea kettle can relate when discussing the most annoying, most frequent way it stains. They will almost always talk about nasty white build-up both inside and outside of the kettle. That particular substance, which you can also find on old faucets, in metal sinks, and even on some silverware, is called limescale.

Very broadly speaking, limescale forms from the build-up of minerals that get deposited while the water is being boiled off. That happens more often if the water you’re boiling is particularly hard, which is sadly more common than people think. Leftover calcium and magnesium form a chalky, crusty substance that flakes off. Removing it should be a priority for you, for a few reasons:

  • It damages the steel
  • You’ll have nasty discoloration all over the kettle
  • Flakes of limescale may end up floating in your beverage
  • Eventually, the build-up will prevent water from boiling

Limescale cannot be cleaned by regular household products such as detergents or soaps. Luckily, there are some methods worth exploring that can help maintain your tea kettle and keep it scale-free.

How to Clean Limescale From Stainless Steel Kettles


Distilled white vinegar has plenty of household applications, especially when it comes to cleaning. So, if you aim to remove the limescale from your stainless steel kettle, you will want to make a white vinegar solution.

The whole process is rather simple, and aside from vinegar, all you need is regular water. First and foremost, make a 50/50 mixture of the two liquids and pour it into the tea kettle. You don’t even need to make it an even 50/50, so feel free to ballpark it. Once you do that, start boiling the mixture and wait.

It’s important to take the kettle off the cooktop once it starts boiling. You don’t want it to boil for too long; otherwise, you risk additional build-up of limescale.

Once the kettle is off the cooktop, leave it on the side and wait for the liquid to cool completely. As it cools, the vinegar is doing its thing and breaking up the limescale build-up on the inside. When that’s all done, wipe the inside of the kettle with a brush or a soft cloth. Furthermore, you can also wash and dry the outside of the kettle.

Next, pour some water in and boil it again using the now-cleaned kettle. When it starts to boil, take the kettle away and discard the water. Alternatively, you can use it for other purposes; for example, you can mop the floor using this water, provided that the heat won’t damage your floors in some way. With all of that done, your kettle will be limescale-free and ready to use.

Baking Soda

Like vinegar, baking soda is the favorite substance for any DIY home cleaner. It can cover anything from rust stains to permanent marker lines. The reason behind its effectiveness is the fact that it’s an alkali; once it is dissolved in water, it interacts with the acids in the stains and starts removing them.

Cleaning with baking soda is not as simple as using vinegar, but it doesn’t require a lot of effort. Firstly, you will pour one cup of baking soda into the kettle and then fill it up with water. Next, leave it on the stove until it boils. And just like with vinegar, make sure to remove the kettle once you see the water boiling, as you don’t want it to boil for too long.

Next, you will want to use a scrub brush; we advise using one that’s thin and long enough to fit in any kettle. Not only will it make scrubbing easier, but you’ll also avoid burning yourself in the process. However, if you can’t find a scrub brush, you can use dry rice as a substitute scrubber. All you have to do is pour about a quarter of a cup in the kettle and swirl it around for a while.

Oftentimes, these steps will be enough for some mild limescale stains, but hardcore ones might remain. If that’s the case, discard most (but not all!) of the boiling water and simply add more baking soda. You will want to add enough of it to make a paste; once it’s there, use the scrub brush. The paste will act as an abrasive, so after it removes all the stains, rinse the kettle off with more clean water and dry it with a soft cloth.  

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is a popular home cleaner due to it containing citric acid. This particular acid is known for its potency when it comes to stain removal. But more importantly, it’s the kind of acid that has no adverse effect on human skin. In other words, you can spray it all over your hands without any protection, and you’ll be just fine.

Cleaning stainless steel tea kettles with lemon juice requires a few simple steps. The first is to acquire some lemons and cut them into several slices. Next, you will need to fill your kettle with lemon wedges and then add water. You mustn’t overfill your kettle, but there needs to be enough water to cover all the stains.

With the kettle now full, place it onto the stove and start boiling. Once it reaches that point, remove the kettle and let it cool for about 30 minutes. Next, boil the same contents again. Finally, discard all of the contents and use a soft sponge to wipe the inside of the kettle before rinsing it again regularly. 

Sulfonic Acid

Sulfonic acid is a powerful substance found in many dishwashers and detergents. Of course, these products use it in a diluted state since it’s quite potent and dangerous. So, if you decide on using it to clean your stainless steel kettle from limescale, we suggest using rubber gloves and other types of protection.

First, take 100 ml of sulfonic acid and mix it with 250 ml of water. Next, you can either shake the mixture smoothly or leave it alone for around 30 minutes to settle. With smaller stains, simply apply the liquid and scrub each stain away with a scrub brush or steel wool.

Hard stains will require an extra step. Namely, take the sulfonic acid/water mixture and add half of a teaspoon of sodium carbonate, also known as soda ash. Use the scrub brush and scrub away the stains with this new mixture. Finally, rinse the kettle thoroughly and dry it with a clean cloth.

Other Methods

If vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, or sulfonic acid are not your cup of tea, there are a few other ways you can get your kettle to be limescale-free.

One method involves using ammonia. It’s a powerful cleaning substance that takes little time to get the job done. All you have to do is apply it to a dry, clean kettle and wipe it off after a few minutes, then rinse the kettle clean. However, ammonia has an extremely strong scent, so it’s highly recommended that you open all the windows and air out the room once you’re done cleaning the kettle.

Oven cleaner is another great option, as you merely need to apply it, wait for a certain amount of time, and then wipe it off and rinse afterward. However, you must not use any of it on the inside of the kettle or the spout. It is notoriously difficult to completely remove all of the chemicals that an average oven cleaner contains. Hence, you run the risk of chemical poisoning if you apply it on the inside.

How to Clean a Burnt Stainless Steel Kettle

Of course, limescale is not the only thing that can afflict a perfectly good steel kettle. For instance, you might notice a lot of black or dark brown marks on the bottom while boiling the water for tea or coffee. Alternatively, dark spots can appear from sizzling oil that bursts out from a frying pan or a pot. Those burn stains are never fun, as they contrast with the silvery, shiny exterior of your dish.

Normally, stainless steel can handle even extreme heat perfectly fine. After all, it’s an alloy made with the specific purpose of resisting extreme conditions. However, that’s heat in and of itself; if we introduce oil to the heat source, it can definitely stain the surface of the kettle. The same goes for other substances, including metals found in hard water like magnesium and calcium.

So, is there any way of getting rid of these burn stains from stainless steel kettles?

In order to clean the burn stains from your stainless steel kettle, you will need the following:

  • Vinegar
  • Dishwasher detergent
  • Dish soap
  • A towel or a rag
  • Baking soda
  • Coarse sponge or a scrubbing brush
  • Gloves

With your gloves on, soak the kettle in hot water with only a few drops of detergent. Let it sit between 20 minutes and two hours. Next, add some baking soda and use the sponge or the brush to scrub (make it wet and add a few droplets of dish soap for a better result).

Some stains will be a bit difficult to remove on the first try, so repeat these steps as often as possible. Alternatively, apply both baking soda and vinegar to the stained spot and let the two sit. Once the chemical reaction occurs, wipe the mixture off with a soapy sponge.

A Few Final Thoughts

Cleaning the stainless steel kettle is crucial for its longevity and performance. The more frequently you do it, the less likely it is to crumble and end up in a landfill somewhere. Hopefully, our list of methods has given you some idea on how to do it quickly, safely, and in an eco-friendly manner.

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