What Does Descale Mean?

If you have a water-using appliance, such as a coffee machine, a dishwasher, or even your water taps, that isn’t working as well as it used to, you may need to descale it.

Typically, the process involves removing limescale from appliances like heaters, kettles, and boilers.

What Does Descale Mean

When you descale, thick layers of oxides that have formed on metals are removed, which then allow the appliance to work more efficiently than it did before.

In this article, we discuss what descale means and how to descale something. 

What Is Descaling?

Descaling is the process of removing the build-up of impurities, like limescale, that has formed over time due to water use.

If you don’t descale your boiler, water heater, coffee machine, or even kettle, you will find that the appliance does not work as effectively as it once did. The appliance may take longer to heat up and work. 

Limescale is a common issue for those households that suffer from hard water.

Hard water contains more minerals, like calcium and magnesium, compared to soft water, which is what causes the build-up to form in your water-using appliances.

The harder your water, the more minerals it has, and the more limescale it will form.

If your home suffers from hard water, make it a priority to descale water-using appliances in your home. Removing the limescale will allow your appliances to work better and longer. 

How To Descale?

There are many appliances around the home that can be improved by descaling.

Removing the buildup of sentiment and limescale from your coffee machines, kettles, boilers, and water heaters will allow them to work more efficiently.

Descaling solutions will help to soften the mineral build-up so it can be brushed away.

What Is A Descaling Solution Made Of? 

When it comes to descaling items in your home, there are two main options: a commercially descaling solution available in most hardware stores, or homemade solutions.

Store-bought solutions are typically made with acids such as formic acid, glycolic acid, citric acid, phosphoric acid, hydrochloric acid, and sulfamic acid. 

Homemade solutions are typically made from distilled vinegar, citric acid, or lemon juice. 

Store-bought solutions are convenient but more expensive. When considering which one to buy, be sure to use one that is safe for the appliance you are cleaning.

For example, some commercial brands may cause copper fixtures to oxidize.  

Homemade options, such as distilled vinegar, are less expensive, generally safe, and usually work well for small jobs.  


To descale a kettle, fill your kettle ¾ full of either equal parts water and vinegar (household vinegar is fine) or water and one lemon. Let your kettle soak for up to one hour.

Boil the kettle (three times for lemon, once for vinegar. Then allow the kettle to cool, and rinse thoroughly with clean water several times.

Ideally, should be descaling your kettle every four to eight weeks. You don’t want to let the limescale build up, as it’s more difficult to remove the longer it’s there.

Coffee Maker

The best way to fight limescale build-up in your coffee machine is by using water filters in your machine. This is because the limescale doesn’t get through the filter.

However, if you still need to descale your coffee machine, then the majority of machines have a descaling program that you can use. 

In your water tank, dissolve either a descaling tablet or some descaling liquid. Then begin the descaling program. The water with the descaling solution inside will be rushed through the entire machine.

After the program has been completed, then you need to make sure you wash the water tank thoroughly and fill it up with clean water. Finally, rinse the system with this new clean water one more time



To descale your dishwasher, your dishwasher must be empty, and you don’t need to add any detergent. You will run your dishwasher twice.

On the first cycle, you will place a bowl filled with one cup of distilled water on the top rack. Then you will run the first cycle.

After that cycle has been completed, sprinkle the inside of the dishwasher with two tablespoons of baking soda, on the floor of your dishwasher. Now run the dishwasher one final time. 

You should descale your dishwasher once every 2 months. This will help to remove limescale, but also clean the dishwasher of any greasy residues.


To descale your shower head, you need to remove your shower head from your shower and place it in a resealable bag. Fill this bag with white vinegar and let the bag sit for a few hours.

After this time, you can remove the shower head and scrub away any remaining limescale still on the shower head. 

By descaling your shower head, you will improve the water pressure for a better shower.

In addition to that, it will prevent you from coming into contact with any bacteria, as bacteria love to grow in humid conditions such as bathrooms.

As a result, try to descale your shower head once a month to prevent these things from happening. 

Larger appliances will take more time, effort, and supplies. We recommend hiring a professional if your boiler or water heater needs service.

If your home has hard water, let your service technician know, and they can make descaling a part of your regular maintenance routine.

Descaling Systems

to avoid the trouble of descaling your appliances, you may want to consider installing a water softener system. This will reduce the limescale buildup caused by hard water.

This saves you time and effort on descaling, but these appliances will need other regular maintenance to continue working effectively.

How Often Do You Need To Descale?

It is worth considering how often you will need to descale. This may depend on how often you use the appliance and how hard your water is.

For coffee makers, descale about every 1 to 2 months. A kettle should be descaled about every 3 months. Water heaters only need to be descaled once every 12 to 24 months. 

If you notice that any appliance isn’t working properly, you may need to descale it soon. 


Descaling is a necessary process for appliances that come into contact with hard water. The water, which contains calcium and magnesium ions, causes sediment and limescale to build up.

So you need to descale to remove this build-up. Or, consider installing a water softening system to treat your hard water. 

Descaling prolongs the life of your appliances and makes them more efficient. Hopefully, this article has helped you understand what descale means and why it is so important. 


Mandy Anderson
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