Anyone who loves a nice hot cup of tea knows that it’s just not the same when you heat up your water in the microwave. If you are going to enjoy your tea, there is nothing like a good old fashioned stovetop kettle. Unfortunately, over time they tend to build up stains or limescale on the inside and perhaps get caked with grease on the outside. If you are having a dilemma trying to figure out how to clean your kettle, the first thing to do is to determine what type of kettle you have. There are different methods for cleaning copper, stainless steel and porcelain or enamel kettles and if you choose the wrong method, you could damage your pot!
While not the most common type of tea kettle, copper kettles are preferred by many simply because of the aesthetics. There is something visually pleasing about a copper tea kettle when it is shiny and clean, but rather unappealing when it is spotted with patches of green corrosion. The first thing you need to know when learning how to clean your kettle is that copper is a very soft metal and as a result, will easily scratch. Never use steel wool pads or other harsh abrasives on a copper kettle.
For removing limescale or built-up stains on the inside as well as grease that has built up on the outside, the number one recommended cleaning solution is a mixture of vinegar or lemon juice (ascorbic acid) with table salt. After heating the kettle full of water, empty it and gently rub the vinegar paste on the kettle both inside and out. Let it ‘work’ for approximately ten minutes, thoroughly rinse and wipe dry with a clean cloth. If there is any lingering corrosion on the outside, you can make a solution of buttermilk and salt to a paste consistency, gently wipe it on, let it rest, rinse, dry and repeat if needed.
Stainless Steel Kettles
Perhaps the easiest of all kettles to clean are those made from stainless steel. The reason for this is because you can use soaped steel wool pads without worrying that your kettle will get scratched or damaged. You would simply scrub the kettle with the wooly pad much the same as you would when cleaning any of your stainless steel pots and pans and thoroughly rinse it. Repeat as necessary. Some people prefer to steep the bags in the kettle which can cause some staining.
For tough stains on the interior, you could add a few drops of bleach to warm water in the pot and let chlorine do its job. Then try scouring again with the steel wool pad and the stains should easily lift away. For tough stains on the outside that don’t easily come off when scouring, you could try ammonia or oven cleaner which will not harm the kettle. A word of caution is required though. Never use bleach and ammonia together as it will cause the release of chlorine gas which can be lethal.
Porcelain or Enamel Kettles
Just like copper kettles, porcelain or enamel pots will scratch quite easily so you should never use abrasive cleaners on them. For this type of kettle you could use oven cleaner or ammonia on the outside to break down and remove built up grease, and of course you can bleach the inside with chlorine bleach, but again, you would never mix chlorine and ammonia (sodium hydroxide) because of the dangerous chlorine gas that is emitted.
You could also use the vinegar/lemon juice and salt paste as mentioned above which would remove much of the built up limescale and would also remove some of the stains as long as they aren’t too deep. This usually only becomes problematic when steeping the tea within the pot. If you use loose tea and the stains become too deep, simply use bleach to lift them and rinse thoroughly.
A true connoisseur of fine teas will almost always brew loose tea leaves as opposed to tea bags steeped in the cup. While the tea is much more delightful, the kettle will be more susceptible to staining. When trying to ascertain how to clean your kettle, simply take into consideration what type of kettle you are using and then use the method best suited for that material.
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