Descaling is the process of removing built up layers of calcium from things that are in constant contact with water; typically ‘hard’ water from municipal sources. Boilers and heat exchangers are often laden with calcium deposits of this sort.
But common household items that use or are in frequent contact with water such as kettles, coffee makers, steam irons, and more – along with bathroom taps, shower heads and bathroom surfaces – also require periodic descaling. That’s because if the calcium build-up – or limescale – is allowed to accumulate unimpeded it will ultimately impair the performance of appliances and sully the appearance of various surfaces
Tips for Descaling Common Household Appliances and Surfaces
Descaling sounds like a complex process involving labcoat wearing chemists and quarantines but it’s actually just common sense, a few readily available materials like vinegar and occasionally a bit of elbow grease. By employing the following tips you can return the various appliances and surfaces in your house to pristine condition.
Descaling the Kettle
The kettle is constantly being filled with tap water meaning that over time calcium deposits will begin making themselves known. Fortunately, descaling the kettle is a fairly simple process.
- Fill the kettle about 25% with lemon juice or, even better, vinegar.
- Let it sit for about an hour. Longer if the limescale build-up is extensive.
- After the appropriate period of time top the kettle up with water without removing the vinegar or lemon juice and bring things to a boil.
- Empty the kettle after bringing it to a boil and rinse it out.
- Refill it with only water and boil again to remove the last traces of vinegar or lemon juice.
Descaling the Coffee Maker
The process of descaling your coffee maker is similar to descaling the kettle just tweaked a bit to accommodate the coffee maker’s process.
- Fill the coffee maker halfway with vinegar or lemon juice.
- Run this through a brew cycle.
- Repeat the process as many times as necessary to break down the limescale.
- Then clean out the coffee maker by hand to ensure all the scaling is removed.
- Run a few brew cycles with water only to remove the taste of the vinegar or lemon juice.
Descaling the Steam Iron
Limescale is easy to see on the surface of your steam iron and it can leave behind unsightly streaks on your clothes if it’s not removed. Therefore it’s important to descale your steam iron as soon as you notice any build-up. To do so:
- Empty any water in the iron then turn the iron on using the ‘cotton’ setting.
- Mix one part vinegar with two parts distilled water in a cup.
- Pour the mixture into the iron then turn the iron off.
- Hold it over a pan and allow the vinegar mixture to drain out through the steam vents.
- Clean any residue from the surface of the iron.
- Refill the iron with distilled water only and let this drain through the iron to complete the process and remove the last traces of the vinegar.
Descaling Bathroom Taps
Any item that is in constant contact with tap water is bound to eventually accumulate limescale. This includes bathroom taps. To remove this calcium build-up from your bathroom tap:
- Cut a lemon in half and then squeeze the lemon juice into a bowl.
- Take the squeezed lemon half and press it into the tap twisting it gently until it stays in place.
- Take a clean cotton cloth and soak it in the lemon juice and then wrap it around the spout.
- Leave everything in place for about an hour.
- Remove and wipe the entire faucet assembly clean.
- Repeat the process if necessary.
Descaling the Shower Head
Most people will default to using commercially available chemical cleaners on the shower head but there’s really no need. As with the above items all that’s typically required is the proper application of vinegar and/or citrus juice such as lemon juice. The process of descaling the shower head using this method typically unfolds as follows:
- Fill a bowl with vinegar or lemon juice.
- Unscrew the shower head and drop it into the bowl making sure the affected area is submerged.
- After 3 or 4 hours remove it from the bowl, screw it back on and run hot water through it at full volume to blast away the loosened debris.
If you can’t unscrew the shower head fill a small plastic bag with vinegar or lemon juice, wrap it around the shower head and secure it with a rubber band instead.
After all this, if you still see limescale on the shower head scrub it with an old toothbrush using vinegar or citrus juice until the scaling is gone. If you still see small bits of calcium deposit in the tiny holes of the head after scrubbing it use a pin or toothpick to dig them out.
Descaling the Shower Enclosure
Limescale is often readily apparent on glass shower enclosures that have been in use for some time. To remove it:
- Fill a spray bottle with a combination of warm water and lemon juice or vinegar
- Spray it on the glass in the affected areas. Leave it for about 30 minutes
- Rinse if off with water. Repeat the process as many times as necessary.
Flat surfaces like shower enclosures along with bathroom tiles etc. are typically much easier to clean than taps, shower heads and kitchen appliances.