Does your cup of tea stink? You're not alone

14 May 2015

cafe tea coffeeThere’s been some concern across the UK, that something bad is going on with our cups of tea.

Of course, having a brew is the very thing that stops us all from going postal or rioting constantly. A cuppa is the very glue that bonds society together. With that, it is important that we get to the bottom of the foul smells that have been blighting British brews.

A load of people have been complaining about a nasty chemical stink emanating from new kettles and some have said that their cups of tea taste like they've been made with water from the swimming baths. Others have noted that kettles are making their water smell like rotten eggs. Some have gone as far as naming this whole thing 'smelly kettle syndrome'.

So what's the deal? Well, it looks like there's a bunch of kettles which aren't helping. One culprit seems to be a Russell Hobbs model (the Ebony 15076), as well as models from Breville, Phillips, De’Longhi, Morphy Richards, Dualit and Bosch. While Russell Hobbs say that they're looking into it (we all know how that'll end up), we need answers now!

It seems that your kettle might be defective - if there's a sulphurous pong, then that's probably due to the burning of the rubber parts of your kettle. Check the cable and heating element.

If it isn't that, then see if it is your water source. The easiest thing to do is to buy a massive bottle of water from the shops and boil that. If the problem goes away, then ring up your water board and see what they'll do about it. If you have a new kettle that's giving you grief, then it might be something to do with the lubricant used in the manufacturing of your kettle. Give the inside a thorough rinse and see if that helps.

You might also want to give your kettle a clean. The trusty white vinegar should do the trick or, if you prefer, you can use baking soda and lemon. Most people never clean the inside of their kettles, so now might be the time to start.

How To Clean Your Kettle

Put 1 dessert spoon of white vinegar or lemon juice, or 1 teaspoon of baking soda, into a kettle of water and boil it. Empty it out and then repeat the process a couple of times.

If you have limescale, which can make your brews taste grim, put in 2 teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda to a full kettle of water, boil it, pour the water out and then rinse your kettle.

If you use lemon to clean your kettle, that should also kill of any horrible smells too, which is nice.

The smell might be particularly persistent, so you might need to go hardcore on it. One thing you can do, if you're determined to keep your kettle rather than just throw it away and buy a new one, is to mix some white vinegar with water in the kettle, bring it to the boil then, take it off the heat, throw in a handful or two of dry rice and stir it up. The rice should absorb the stink.

TOPICS:   How To Guides


  • Albi
    I can't use my Russell Hobbs coffee maker because every cup tastes of plastic. I've scrubbed and scrubbed the water container but it must be the plastic components inside.
  • JonB
    How long until these kettles are recalled? Are we heading for a Total Recall? (Sorry, I'll get my coat.)
  • Russell H.
    Hi Albi, Please can you contact the Russell Hobbs customer services team on 0345 658 9700 to discuss your coffee maker? Many thanks, Russell Hobbs customer services
  • Miceal S.
    Sodium bicarbonate is an alkali, so it won't remove limescale, unless used as an abrasive in a paste. Use an acid based (e.g. citric acid) descaler to remove limescale for your kettle. Don't use vinegar, because it will impart a vinegar taste to the water you boil for days afterwards.

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