Rust is nasty, disgusting, and an eyesore, especially when it occurs in your kettle. Worse still, it’s pretty challenging to scrub it off using ordinary methods. If you’ve recently seen rust residue in your kettle and were wondering how to clean it, then you’re in the right place.
In this article, I’ll explain six methods you can use to remove rust from your electric kettle. I’ll also address whether the rust is dangerous to your health and list down some ways you can prevent your kettle from rusting in the future.
What Causes Rust to Form in an Electric Kettle?
Have you ever noticed a residue inside your kettle? Perhaps it was white or yellow, or even reddish. Because of the regular boiling of water or drinks in the kettle, this residue is bound to appear, and most of the time, it’s scale, but it can also be rust.
So what causes rust formation in an electric kettle?
Rust forms in an electric kettle because of a natural reaction on iron when exposed to oxygen and water. This reaction is known as oxidation, and it ends up corroding the affected item.
So if your kettle shows any signs of rust, you should get rid of the residue immediately before it builds up and damages your appliance.
6 Ways to Remove Rust From an Electric Kettle
1. Use a Vinegar Solution
Vinegar is quite effective in removing rust. It’s cheap, non-toxic, and easy to work with. If you want to use vinegar to clean your rusty electric kettle, ensure that you use plain white vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar and other types of strong-aroma kinds of vinegar can infiltrate your kettle’s plastic materials and distort the flavor of the drinks you brew afterward.
The process of using vinegar to remove rust from a kettle is quite simple, and it involves the following steps:
- Mix water and vinegar in a container in a one-to-one ratio.
- Add the vinegar solution to your kettle up to the “maximum fill” line. Avoid using highly flavored and aromatic kinds of vinegar such as apple cider. Also, don’t use balsamic or drinking vinegar as their high sugar concentration can create a sticky mess. If vinegar is unavailable, you can use citric acid or commercial products such as the Urnex Dezcal Activated Descaler. It’s a safe, non-toxic option.
- Allow the vinegar to sit in the kettle for the chemical reactions to take place. The duration should be from two to three hours, though the longer, the better.
- Turn on the kettle and boil the vinegar for about 5 minutes. As the liquid boils, it swirls up, agitating the small rust particles and breaking them free from the kettle. Boiling also acts as a catalyst to the final chemical reaction between vinegar and rust.
- Let the vinegar solution sit in the kettle for a few more minutes, say 10 minutes.
- Pour all the vinegar out. Be careful. It’s pretty hot. First, pour half of it out and shake the kettle vigorously to wash out the big chunks of rust. Then, rinse the kettle with clean cold water after pouring out all the vinegar.
If you still notice stains of rust in the kettle, repeat the whole process until your electric kettle is clean and shiny.
After cleaning with vinegar, if the vinegar’s aroma persists, add a tablespoon of baking soda into the kettle and fill it with water. Boil the solution for at least ten minutes, then pour it out and rinse again.
2. Use Lemon Slices or Juice
Most manufacturers are usually against cleaning your appliance using vinegar. If this is the case with your electric kettle, you’ll have to use another cleaning agent. Lemon is an excellent replacement for vinegar.
Even though it’s pretty weak compared to vinegar, lemon can still clean your rusty kettle. There are two ways in which you can use lemon to clean your electric kettle:
Using Lemon Slices
Here’s what you need to do if you’re going to use lemon slices:
- Slice some lemons and put the slices in the electric kettle.
- Add water to about three-quarters of the kettle.
- Bring the solution to a boil for about twenty minutes and then leave it to cool down.
- Scrub the kettle with a brush.
- Discard the solution after it has soaked in.
- Fill the kettle with fresh water and boil again for about 15 minutes.
- Discard the water, rinse the kettle, and wipe it dry using a clean piece of clothing.
Using Lemon Juice
If you’re using lemon juice follow these steps:
- Mix a considerable amount of water and lemon juice in the kettle, like one ounce (30 mL) of lemon juice and half a liter (half a quart) of water.
- Boil the solution for at least twenty minutes and then leave it to cool.
- Scrub the kettle with a brush.
- Discard the solution and rinse the kettle about four times using clean water each time.
- Wipe the kettle dry using a clean piece of clothing.
3. Use a Commercial Product
There are ready-made solutions for cleaning electric kettles and other appliances such as faucets and coffee machines. You can purchase the Durgol Universal Descaler and Decalcifier for descaling and removing rust from your electric kettle. It’s versatile and easy to use.
To use this product, follow these instructions:
- Dilute the product according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Pour the solution into your kettle and bring it to a boil for about twenty minutes.
- Leave the solution to cool and soak for at least fifteen minutes.
- Discard it and rinse the kettle with clean water.
4. Use Coke
Yes, you read that right. Coca-Cola is an excellent rust remover as its phosphoric acid reacts with the iron oxide to dissolve rust.
Below is the procedure of removing rust from your electric kettle using Coca-Cola:
- Scrub the kettle using a wire brush. Scrubbing will remove any lightly attached stains of rust.
- Rinse it with clean cold water.
- Fill the kettle with Coca-Cola up to the “maximum fill” line.
- Let the kettle sit for at least twenty minutes. However, if the rust build-up is too much, leave the coke to sit overnight.
- Scrub the kettle again to remove any stubborn rust stains.
- Pour out the Coca-Cola and rinse the electric kettle with clean cold water.
5. Use Sandpaper
Sandpaper isn’t the best, but it’s one of the tools you can use to remove rust from your kettle if all the other methods are unavailable. However, it would help if you understood that scrubbing your kettle will slightly scratch it.
Below are the steps to remove rust using sandpaper:
- Take a fine-grit sandpaper sheet and dampen it. Gently scrub the rusty areas in a circular motion while considering the kettle’s shape to make the scratches somehow inconspicuous.
- Scrub until a shiny metal is visible.
- Rub the scrubbed area with onion once you’re done with the above process. Onion enzymes help in breaking tough rust stains into simple ones.
- Wash the kettle with soap and hot water.
- Rinse with clean cold water to wash away the rust and any other debris.
- Pat dry the kettle thoroughly and re-season.
6. Use Baking Soda
The fact that baking soda is a slightly abrasive material makes it an excellent rust remover. This method is the best compared to using sandpaper, which tends to leave scratches on the kettle.
Below is how you use baking powder to clean off the rust from your kettle:
- Make a baking soda-and-water solution.
- Pour the solution into the kettle and bring it to a boil for about thirty minutes.
- Leave the solution to cool and soak for about twenty minutes.
- Discard the solution and rinse the kettle using cold freshwater.
- Repeat until your kettle is completely clean.
Cleaning the Exterior of an Electric Kettle
All the methods mentioned of cleaning a rusty kettle are meant for cleaning the interior of the kettle. However, you can use Coca-Cola and baking soda to clean the exterior of the kettle.
Here are the steps to cleaning the exterior of an electric kettle:
- Submerge the kettle into coke or baking soda solution and leave it for some minutes. If there’s a lot of rust, you can leave the kettle to soak overnight.
- Remove the kettle from the fluid and rinse using warm water. It would help if you understood that the rust from the kettle’s exterior is mainly brought about by exposing the kettle to too much moisture. Thus, consider wiping the kettle after every use to eliminate this moisture. If your kettle is made of stainless steel, you might want to polish it with olive oil.
- Soak a piece of clothing into olive oil and gently rub it over the kettle. This will give it a new and shiny look.
Is Rust in Kettle Dangerous to Your Health?
Commonly, rusting is caused by continuous kettle use to boil water without cleaning it for long periods.
Consuming rust in your kettle isn’t dangerous to your health. In fact, studies conclude that it isn’t harmful to you as long as it’s only consumed in small amounts.
On the other hand, despite a rusty kettle posing a minimal problem for your health, it can be a problem for your resources:
- A rusty kettle will not stand for long. Sooner or later, it’s more likely to break down unless it’s acted upon.
- A rusty kettle is a problem for your electricity bills. Rust sticks on the interior surfaces of the kettle, which causes the appliance to take much more time to boil anything. This results in high demand for energy, thus increasing your electricity bills.
Ways of Preventing Your Kettle From Rusting
Instead of waiting for rust to build up in your kettle, it’s much better to avoid it in the first place. So how can you prevent your kettle from rusting?
Daily maintenance is mandatory.
Here are some factors that’ll help ensure your kettle doesn’t rust in the future:
Store Your Electric Kettle Properly
Generally, most kettles will rust after much exposure to moisture. Therefore, wipe your kettle dry before storing it to prevent it from rusting.
What’s more, don’t keep liquids in your kettle unless you intend to use them in a few moments.
In addition, ensure you store the kettle without anything atop as this can hold and build up moisture, leading to rust. Consider storing the lids separately or leaving the kettle open, so there’s free air circulation.
If you reside in a damp environment, consider placing a piece of paper towel inside the kettle to soak up any moisture that may occur.
Properly Clean Your Electric Kettle After Use
Electric kettles require regular cleaning to remain in good shape. However, avoid running it through a dishwasher, as the moisture can catalyze rust formation.
If you notice that the kettle is badly soiled:
- Smear it with coarse salt and gently scrub using a soft brush.This removes the debris on the kettle.
- Rinse the kettle’s interior with clean water and dry it using a piece of clean cloth or towel.
- Regularly wash your kettle using dish soap and water.
Here are some important general maintenance tips to prevent your electric kettle from rusting:
- Spritz baking soda into the kettle’s interior regularly and then scrub using a fluffy sponge to remove rust stains.
- Remove the kettle’s filter and soak it in vinegar for at least ten minutes to dissolve the persistent rust residue. Scrub it gently using a sponge and rinse with water.
- Avoid scrubbing the kettle’s heating elements as you can damage the appliance.
- After cleaning the kettle with water, don’t leave it wet for too long to avoid rust from building up again.
- Always use soft brushes when cleaning the kettle’s surface.
- Completely cool the kettle before storing it.
- Avoid using any salt or herb that speeds up the rusting process.
- Avoid directly cleaning the kettle using a dishwasher.
- Don’t let water sit in the kettle for a long time.
- Wash the kettle with warm water immediately after using it.
- Ensure that the kettle doesn’t overheat.
There you have it. To remove rust from your electric kettle, you can use:
- Baking soda
- Commercial products
But to avoid rust build-up in your kettle, then regular cleaning, proper storage, and general maintenance are necessary.
Thank you for your article. I can guess from it anything acidic seems to help, but with caution and some basic knowledge. I thought though ‘descalers’ are only for scale deposit?
As for the prevention…I can’t imagine anyone not leaving water in their kettle and keeping it dry in between uses. If so perhaps it would be a good idea to put the kettle on a display shelf and boil your water in a saucepan! (My other name is ‘Mr Sarcastic’ ;).
I was surprised to see mine with rust after only a few weeks use. I should have known better than to buy a glass one!
Anyway thank you for your effort I’m sure it did and does help many of us.
PS: It seems I can add to my comment although it had not been ‘moderated’ yet (Then just finished and shows 2 hours ago?)
Anyway went back to my kettle and found under the sink a little container I had for years (When we bought a set of saucepans, yes years ago!) It’s supposed to be to clean steel copper etc. and it’s like a talcum dispenser with little holes in it….
I emptied all the water from my glass kettle and sprinkled a little of that ‘powder’ in it and with a tissue cleaned what I thought was rust. .It had the same colour but most likely was ‘scaling deposit’ occupying about over a third of the bottom. (Yes the bottom was still wet when I put the powdered in it) .It was fairly easy and now looks again like new and without scratch marks. I boiled two lot of water; only above the bottom level, and rinsed it. I think it’s going to be ok.