Mar 04, 2024

How to Clean an Electric Kettle

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Here's how to take care of your handy appliance without frying its electronics.

Electric kettles can be a game changer in your kitchen. From basic models that quickly and conveniently boil water to more advanced models that offer to-the-degree temperature control for brewing the perfect cup of coffee or tea, an electric kettle will make you feel like an absolute pro in the kitchen without you having to do much more than fill it with water and press a button. That is, until it comes time to clean the thing.

Because it contains an electric heating element, the process of cleaning an electric kettle is a bit more involved than scrubbing down a stovetop model, and making the wrong move can leave you with a broken kettle. Here’s how to do it the right way.

If there is one thing you take away from this article, make it this: don’t submerge your electric kettle, ever. While you might happily plunge your stovetop kettle into a sinkful of soapy water, doing so with most electric kettles will quite literally break the device. That’s because many electric kettles contain electronic components. You wouldn’t dunk your laptop in a bucket of water, right? The same logic applies to your electric kettle. Don’t submerge it in water, and don’t put it in the dishwasher.

Just because you can’t submerge your electric kettle doesn’t mean you still can’t wash it with soap and water. Feel free to fill it with warm soapy water and go to town on the inside of the kettle with a soft sponge or brush — avoid using anything abrasive. The inside of your kettle is designed to hold water, so getting the interior wet is not going to damage anything. When it comes to cleaning the exterior, however, you’ll want to be a little more precious to avoid damaging any electronics, which are typically housed in the bottom of the kettle to interact with the base. Opt for wiping down the outside of the kettle with a damp cloth while being sure to avoid getting any electrical bits wet.

Eventually, mineral deposits from your water will build up as limescale inside your kettle, leading to visible stains that can leech out some funky flavors. And while you may be tempted to take a scouring pad to these stains, don’t: that will just make them worse. Instead, you’ll need to regularly descale your electric kettle to get rid of this buildup, and while you can spring for a specialized descaling solution, most big manufacturers simply recommend a more DIY approach using white vinegar, though their methods differ slightly.

Fellow recommends boiling a kettle filled halfway with white vinegar and halfway with water, letting it sit for a half-hour, then dumping it out and rinsing away any remnants. KitchenAid, on the other hand, prefers a mix of one part white vinegar to three parts water, letting it sit overnight after boiling and then a process of boiling and discarding plain water for as many times as it takes until all traces of the vinegar taste have gone away. I recommend you check the website or owner’s manual of your respective kettle for specific descaling instructions.

Routine cleaning should take place every time you use the kettle, while the more involved process of descaling will be determined both by how often you use the kettle and how hard your water is. If you use your kettle every day and don’t have especially hard water, then you should probably descale about once a month. If you’ve got hard water, then you’ll likely have to do it more often. Essentially, you can let your eyes be the judge. If you see limescale stains on the inside of your kettle, it’s time to descale.

don’t submerge your electric kettle, ever