Natural Cleaning

Home and Garden, Natural Cleaning

How to Descale A Kettle With Vinegar or Citric Acid

Don’t let limescale ruin a perfectly good cup of tea. Here’s how to quickly, easily, and naturally descale a kettle two ways – with vinegar or with citric acid – whatever you have to hand.

I blog about tea quite a lot. That’s because I’m pretty partial to a cup myself. Whether it’s herbal tea that I’ve grown by myself – such as mint tea or lemon balm tea – or helping you to find the best plastic-free teabags, tea is never far from my thoughts or my lips!

Whilst there’s nothing like the thought of plastic in your tea to ruin a perfectly good cup of tea, limescale is a close second. Let me show you how to descale a kettle naturally, two ways – one way with vinegar, and another with citric acid – so you never ruin a good cup of tea again!

What Is Limescale And Is It Bad For You?

Firstly, what is limescale? Limescale is a harmless chalky white residue that accumulates in appliances that use water, such as kettles, coffee machines, dishwashers, and washing machines. Limescale is particularly prevalent in hard water areas. Here, in this mineral-rich water, higher concentrations of calcium and magnesium dissolve in water, leaving limescale deposits as they evaporate.

Limescale is completely harmless to your health and isn’t bad for you to drink. Calcium and magnesium are both minerals found in the body, so consuming them in your water poses no risk.

The problem with limescale in your kettle is that it can spoil your tea a little. However, its greater problem is the effects of limescale on our appliances. Limescale can shorten the lifespan of your kettle because it can corrode the elements. Limescale deposits also negatively impact the energy efficiency of your kettle. This means it takes longer, and uses more energy and therefore money, to heat up the water, and also reduces your kettle’s lifespan.

In short, whilst limescale is not harmful to your health, it’s best to tackle limescale on a regular basis. Doing so will prolong the life of your appliances and save energy, particularly if you live in a hard water area.

How to Naturally Descale A Kettle

A green kettle on a white background with the caption how to naturally descale a kettle using vinegar or citric acid

Thankfully, it’s really easy to descale your kettle. You can buy expensive and chemically dubious kettle descalers. However, I say save your money and use these natural yet effective methods to descale your kettle.

How To Descale A Kettle With Vinegar

Descaling your kettle with vinegar is really simple and cost-effective. Simply buy a bottle of white vinegar and add equal parts water to equal parts vinegar (e.g. 500 ml water and 500 ml white vinegar) to your kettle.

Next, boil your kettle and then leave the vinegar/water solution to sit for an hour before tipping the water out. You may need to give your kettle a little scrub to remove any lingering limescale, but it should come off easily.

Finally, rinse out your kettle thoroughly, and then boil some water to remove any trace of vinegar.

If you are new to using white vinegar for cleaning purposes, then here is everything you need to know about cleaning with white vinegar.

How to Descale A Kettle With Citric Acid

Citric acid is, I have to say, my preferred method to descale a kettle naturally.

All you have to do is add 1 tablespoon of citric acid to half a kettle of water. Allow the water to boil and then leave it to sit for an hour. Next, tip the water out, and scrub away at any lingering limescale. Again, it should come away easily. Finally, give your kettle a good rinse out and the job’s done! Citric acid won’t leave an aftertaste, so there is no need to reboil the kettle again. Less faff equals more time for tea drinking!

New to the amazing superpowers of citric acid? It’s an amazing natural cleaning product that packs a mean punch against limescale. This is because it’s a highly concentrated fruit acid, and as such citric acid is a key element in my green cleaning arsenal. As well as being useful to clean your kettle, you can also use the leftover citric acid to make this amazing citric acid cleaning spray. This is a great natural cleaning spray, that’s especially useful if you aren’t into the smell of vinegar.

Worried about tracking it down? Worry not, citric acid is easily available in homebrew shops, Asian supermarkets, or online. Find out more about the wonder that is citric acid in my full guide to citric acid for cleaning.

How To Prevent Limescale

If you live in a hard water area, then limescale is a fact of life. It’s just one of those things that you have to get in the habit of descaling your appliances, such as your kettle, dishwasher, or washing machine, regularly, to help prolong their life.

However, when it comes to your kettle, there are steps you can take to help reduce the need to descale it as often. One of these is to use a water filter to filter your water before filling the kettle. Water filters used to be pretty wasteful, however, you can now buy reusable water filters, meaning there’s no plastic waste. I wrote about this Phox water filter here some time ago, when they were in the fundraising stage, and it’s great to see it now available for sale.

You can also buy a reusable stainless steel limescale catcher* for your kettle. This clever product lives in your kettle and absorbs the calcium carbonate that causes limescale. Every so often, when it turns a white colour, just take it out and give it a wash. Once you’re done, pop it back inside your kettle and you’re good to go again.

Thanks for letting me chat through kettle cleaning with you! Now time for a good old (limescale free!) cuppa I think!

Home and Garden, Natural Cleaning

Make Your Own Homemade Cleaning Products

homemade cleaning products
homemade cleaning products

Want to make your own homemade cleaning products but don’t know where to start? Let me show you how with these super simple recipes and guides.

I want my home to be clean. However, at the same time, I don’t really want a cocktail of harsh chemicals in the air that I breathe, or on the surfaces that I touch or prepare food on. Particularly because scientists have warned that some household cleaning products could be as bad for your lungs as smoking 20 cigarettes a day. Meanwhile, there is a link between cleaning products and breast cancer. It seems like cleaning our homes can be dirty business.

As there are all sorts of health and environmental dangers associated with using cleaning products, over the past few years we’ve been trying to cut down on the number of harsh chemicals we use in our home.

As an easy introduction, we first switched to using more eco-friendly cleaning products. And then where we could we’ve also started making our own homemade cleaning products. My technique was to go slowly, replacing a conventional product with a homemade one as I went along, to avoid overwhelm.

As I’ve been doing this for quite some years now, let me show you how to make some of my favourite homemade cleaning products that you can whip up in seconds.

What You’ll Need

To get started, you’ll first need a few simple supplies. Some of them you might already have in your kitchen cupboard.

To make my homemade cleaning products, I have a small selection of essential oils, that I buy from eBay*.  I’ve got lavender, lemon, sweet orange, peppermint, and tea tree.  As well as smelling great, I like them because these specific oils have great cleaning and germ-killing properties.

essential oils for cleaning your home

Next, you’ll need a bottle or two of white vinegar.  Vinegar is quite a key component in making homemade cleaning products.  You can buy white vinegar in glass bottles in the supermarket that you can transfer into a spray bottle. A more economical way is to buy white vinegar in bulk, which is very economical, and you can refill any empty spray bottle.

In terms of spray bottles, here’s where I source glass bottles to hold my homemade cleaning products.

Homemade Cleaning Products

Now that you’ve got your supplies, let me show you my step-by-step instructions for making my homemade cleaning products.  You can make them easily and cheaply, and I promise you they are as effective as any shop-bought chemical cleaner.

I’ve got a host of recipes here for your kitchen and bathroom, and for doing laundry and the dishes.  They’ll soon have your house naturally sparkling!

Please note that vinegar shouldn’t be used on granite, marble, quartz, or other forms of natural stone. Do see my full guide on everything you need to know about cleaning with white vinegar for the full list of dos and don’ts.

Homemade Kitchen Cleaning Spray

For my homemade kitchen cleaner, I simply add twenty drops of lemon oil and twenty drops of lavender oil to a solution of 250 ml cooled boiled water and 250 ml white vinegar.  Lemon is a great degreaser and lavender has brilliant antibacterial properties. Pour it into a bottle, add the spray top, give it a shake and you are good to go in seconds.

household kitchen cleaning products made with vinegar and essential oils

My homemade cleaning spray made light work of my dirty worktops.  Here you can see the before and after shots:

before and after cleaning with vinegar

Sparkling clean, and germ-free without any trace of harsh chemicals!  When you use the spray (or any other vinegar-based homemade cleaning products) then you do get a smell of vinegar. However it completely disappears once dry, and you’re left with a very light and pleasant scent of the essential oils.

For an extra cleaning boost, you can add 1 teaspoon of regular washing-up liquid to the oil, vinegar, and essential oil solution.

If you have any tough spots of grime or dried in food then try spraying it with a liberal amount of vinegar and leaving it to soak for 10 minutes before wiping. If that doesn’t help, try a light sprinkling of bicarbonate of soda on the affected area, and then rubbing it with a damp cloth. You may want to patch test this in an inconspicuous area first to test that it’s not going to damage the surface you are cleaning.

Although it makes for impressive bubbles, that look like they should work well at cleaning, don’t mix the bicarbonate of soda and vinegar. This is because the bicarbonate of soda neutralises the vinegar, and you are left with a weak salty water solution that is no good at cleaning anything.

This homemade cleaning product keeps for up to around 8 weeks. However, if it starts to look or smell bad before then, then do discard it and make a fresh batch.

Homemade Bathroom Cleaner

You can also make homemade bathroom cleaning spray, again using vinegar.  This time, to the 250 ml cooled boiled water and 250 ml vinegar solution add 20 drops of lavender oil and 20 drops of tea tree oil.  Tea tree oil has brilliant antiseptic and anti-fungal properties, making it one of these brilliant homemade cleaning products for tackling your bathroom.

bathroom cleaner spray made with vinegar and essential oils lavender tea tree

I’ve been spraying my homemade cleaning spray on my tiles after showering, This inhibits the growth of mould and remove soap scum. I also use it to wipe down the sink and toilet and everything else.  Again, it initially smells of vinegar but when it dries you can’t smell the vinegar. Instead, you are left with a very subtle aroma of tea tree and lavender.

Again, the shelf life of this is around 8 weeks.

If you don’t like the smell of vinegar in your bathroom, then try this homemade citric acid cleaning spray instead. It’s fantastic at tackling hard water deposits.

Homemade Fabric Softener

I’ve used vinegar for years as a homemade fabric softener. However, I’ve only just started adding essential oils to the vinegar.  Simply fill an old jar with vinegar, and add around 30 drops of orange oil to your vinegar. This gives you softened clothes and a delicate and clean aroma to your laundry, without a hint of vinegar. I promise!  With regards to the dosage I just fill up to the line on the fabric conditioner drawer of my machine and that seems to work a treat.

As you are not adding water to the vinegar, your homemade fabric softener will last indefinitely. Again, if it starts to look or smell bad then do discard and make a fresh batch.

Homemade Dishwasher Rinse Aid

Vinegar also makes a fantastic rinse aid in your dishwasher. It leaves your glasses, cutlery, and plates sparkling!  I just use the same solution as I do for my fabric softener – making it fantastically multipurpose!

Do you make any of your own homemade cleaning products?  Do share in the comments below!  I’m always on the lookout for great tips! And if you enjoyed this then you might also enjoy my post on green cleaning favourites.  I’ve been on quite the green cleaning journey and plastic reduction journey since I wrote this post. Yes, I have since shared lots of recipes and methods, that I’ve summarised in that post.

As an update to this post, I’ve also been on ever such the green cleaning journey since I published this post AND my post on my green cleaning favourites.  I’ve written a book all about green cleaning, called Fresh Clean Home. It contains over 35 natural cleaning recipes for every room in your home. It’s available to purchase now.  Do check it out!

Main image from here, all others are my own.