How to Remove Hard Water Stains in a Kettle

Dear Home-Ec 101,
I have a Corningware tea pot that has hard water stains from too many times boiling dry. A friend suggested straight bleach and bringing it to a boil, removing it from the burner and letting it set overnight. No luck. Suggestions?

Does sodium hypochlorite break down at a certain temperature? Can’t find anything on line to tell me the answer.

Lightheaded in Lincoln

Heather says:

Please don’t take advice from this friend, their intentions may be good, but this person sounds like the reason warning labels are needed.

Heating chlorine bleach releases chlorine gas. Please take a moment and review the following:

How to Use Bleach Safely

Sodium hypochlorite degrades 3.5x faster for every 10° Celsius, in other words hotter is not better with with this chemical. When diluting chlorine bleach for household disinfecting, use room temperature water.

If I were in your situation, I would try using Barkeeper’s Friend. Rinse the kettle, but don’t dry it. Liberally sprinkle BKF in the pot and use a damp rag to create a paste. Allow the paste to sit on the surface of the pot for a few moments, then begin using more water, to dilute the BKF and clean the surface. 

If this doesn’t work, rinse the pot thoroughly and try simmering white vinegar. This won’t smell nice, but it certainly won’t be as offensive as the bleach from your previous experiment.

guide to chemical cleaners

Click this picture to learn more about cleaners!

If you still have hard water stains, it may be time to try CLR, be sure to clean the kettle thoroughly before boiling water for your next cup of tea.

This article on cleaning an electric kettle has a more thorough explanation. Good luck!

Send your domestic questions to

How to clean electric kettle


  1. Michele Trow on February 17, 2016 at 4:14 pm

    Hi I am interested in ordering your book to teach my daughter homes economics in homeschool and I was wondering if your book covers home finances and budgeting?

    • Heather Solos on February 18, 2016 at 7:16 am

      No, I don’t touch on personal finance in the book. Maybe if I ever get around to a second edition, I’ll include that.

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