I have an electric kettle that I clean by scrubbing the insides with plain water. I was wondering if there was a better way to clean it. I remember hearing somewhere that you can clean a coffemaker by running a solution containing vinegar through it and was wondering if there might be a similar solution to clean the kettle?

8 Answers 8


You can use a solution of vinegar and water to descale your kettle (unless, as hobodave mentioned, the manufacturer advises against using vinegar). Fill your kettle with water until it's half full; add about 1/2 cup of vinegar to the water, and then allow it to boil for about 10 minutes. Allow the water to cool and unplug your kettle. Gently scrub away the scale with a non-metallic pad (don't scrub the heating element if it's exposed; wipe that with a sponge). Rinse your kettle several times after removing the scale, and then boil one or two fillings of water in it to ensure that you remove all traces of the vinegar.

  • The vinegar solution works fine. My dad uses that on his electric kettle.
    – jingles
    Jun 20, 2012 at 17:57

I've found that citric acid works best. You put it in a kettle of boiling water, and just let it do its magic. It cleans up any plaque buildup, and brings it back to a shiny pristine state. Works much better for me than vinegar, for some reason.

  • 7
    And it has little if any odor, much appreciated in the office over boiling vinegar.
    – derobert
    Sep 20, 2012 at 22:10
  • Citric acid is a perfect tool for this, really!
    – yo'
    Mar 20, 2017 at 19:11

I have generally found the vinegar method to be suitable and haven't heard of anything specific as to why it would be harmful. Vinegar is usually only about 5% acid solution so rather weak as far as acids go. A lot of manufacturers will recommend a specific cleaning solution because it's yet another thing that you have to buy from them.

You should be able to find descaling solutions in cleaning aisle of the grocery store or visit your local restaurant supply store for descaling solution.


Follow the manufacturer's directions.

I have heard the vinegar thing for coffee makers too, but it's not a universal thing. Specifically, my coffee maker has very explicit warnings about not using vinegar, or any other acidic solution to clean it. Instead it suggests soap and water for the externals, and a vinegar-free descaling solution for the internals.

I don't own an electric kettle, but I wouldn't be surprised if some models had prohibitions or warnings of their own. I know for sure they will have specific instructions in their manuals though.

For anything electric/electronic that you care about, follow the instructions.

  • 4
    Does your coffee maker's manufacturer sell the special descaling solution, by any chance? I'd love to see their explanation of how vinegar is harmful, considering coffee is more acidic.
    – ceejayoz
    Jul 17, 2010 at 3:28
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    No they don't. They have a recommended brand, but you can really use any one designed for coffee machines. I use Durgol. The explanation is unnecessary. Coffee never touches the parts that are sensitive to acid. In any coffee machine I've seen water is pulled through some type of pipe/tubing, heated, and then dripped or forced through ground coffee, then a filter, and finally through a plastic nozzle into your cup. Given that my coffee machine rapidly heats the water, I imagine it passes through a squiggly thin metal tube which is heated.
    – hobodave
    Jul 17, 2010 at 3:36
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    @ceejayoz In a normal coffee maker the coffee would never come in direct contact with the inner works. Hot water is dripped onto the coffee grounds, filtered, and finally drained into the pot. That said, I am willing to bet it is a scam to get you to buy their cleaning solution as well. Jul 17, 2010 at 3:39
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    @hobodave an electric kettle is a simple stainless steel pot with a heater built in under the bottom. Unlike a coffee machine, it won't be damaged by acids, the same way a stock pot won't be damaged.
    – rumtscho
    Jun 20, 2012 at 19:23
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    The recommendation against using vinegar might just be because it's hard to get the vinegar taste out of the coffee machine afterwards. Nov 21, 2016 at 18:04

If you don’t want to use white vinegar, you can use apple vinegar. I have tried it in my kettle with pure apple cider vinegar. It worked very well too.


Vinegar and baking soda work fine to clean kettle. You can find the formula here

  • 2
    What do carpets have in common with a kettle?
    – yo'
    Mar 20, 2017 at 19:12

You can clean easily with some Cola, it works perfectly


Citric acid, but be careful. Don't let it sit too long.

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