How to Remove Limescale in Your Appliances?
If you have ever looked inside your kettle, iron or tap, you will most likely find its biggest enemy – limescale. But who cares? Afterall, limescale is not known to have killed anyone, apart from a kettle or two.
The strange thing is when it comes to baby-related items like bottle sterilizers and breast pumps, most mommies switch from “who-cares” to “I-need-to-get-rid-of-this-now” mode. While there is no evidence to show limescale is harmful to health or babies, it can make appliances like electric bottle sterilizers, warmers and breast pumps inefficient or useless. Excessive limescale buildup can also be unsightly.
Electric appliances, especially baby appliances, are not cheap. Marketers put a significant premium on baby-related products because they know parents want the best for their babies and are (most likely) willing to pay the price. After shelling out big bucks for your items, you want to make sure to keep limescale at bay. This will extend the life of your purchases.
When is the best time to descale your appliances?
Limescale buildup starts as small white spots. This is often found on the metal heating plate. The spots can turn from chalky white to dark brown (rust-like color). When you see this residue, it is time to descale your appliance. Or you might find your appliances are not working as effectively any more. For instance, some find streak marks on babies bottles after a round of sterilizing or the usual flow of breast pump has weakened. For general purposes, all appliances should be descaled once every 1-2 weeks to ensure appliances are operating at tiptop condition.
How to descale your appliances?
There are different methods of descaling.
The most expensive way is to buy descaling or decalcifying tablets. Companies make money by marketing different tablets for different appliances. If you ask me, this is a whole lot of unnecessary unless you have money to burn.
The cheaper way is to use generic cleaning powder like citric acid. This is natural powdered acid found in citrus fruits. If you are using this method, remember that hot water is needed to activate the alkaline limescale to react with the citrus acid. You may see some fizzing. There is no hard-and-fast rule in the ratio of acid to water. Always start with a more conservative ratio of 1:5 (1-part acid to 5-parts water). Leave the citric acid solution in the appliance for an hour or overnight, then pour away. You can repeat the process until all the limescale buildup is broken down. You can also use baking soda in place of citric acid.
The cheapest, and easiest, way is to use vinegar. Not just any kind of vinegar, you want white vinegar.
Step 1: Dilute the vinegar with water to make a vinegar solution in a ratio of 1:4. That is 10ml vinegar to 40ml water or 100ml vinegar to 400ml water. This amount of solution will depend on the appliance you are planning to descale.
Step 2: Pour the vinegar solution into the holding area. Fill it to the same level as you would when you fill with water for normal use of the appliance.
Step 3: Set aside all removable items in the appliance. For instance, this applies to baby bottles in a steam sterilizer or coffee capsules in home coffee dispensing machines. For appliances like kettles, there are nothing to remove so leave as is.
Step 4: Switch on the appliance and run it for one cycle.
Step 5: Leave the vinegar water solution in the appliance to cool for 15-30 minutes.
Step 6: Discard the vinegar solution, rinse with fresh water and wipe dry. If the limescale is not thoroughly removed, repeat steps 2-6. This time, increase the ratio of the vinegar-water solution for greater descaling strength.
If you can’t bear with the sharp sour-scent of vinegar, try squeezing a lemon and drop the slices into the vinegar solution. I have tried this method with my kettle and steam sterilizer. It seriously works like a charm. The best part is no arm muscle needed. We are all literally a bottle of vinegar away from a gleaming, almost-new looking appliance.