Anyone who uses tap water to fill a teapot might notice white buildup collecting on the bottom of the pot. The buildup is subtle at first, but as weeks go by, it becomes more apparent. It's caused by calcium and other mineral deposits that don't wash out in a general cleaning. Fortunately, calcium buildup in pots is easily remedied with some common household products.
Why There's Calcium Buildup in Pots
Unfiltered water can contain lime, magnesium, calcium and other minerals. As the water evaporates from a regular or double-boiler teapot, the minerals stay behind and fall to the bottom of the pot. Even a clean teapot can have deposits. Because the minerals in the water are minuscule and hard to spot, people don't usually notice it until there's an obvious white calcium buildup in the pot.
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How to Wash a Teapot
Tea purists argue over whether or not to clean a teapot after every use. The argument is that a teapot retains the tea's flavor. While rinsing the teapot after every use is recommended, washing the teapot with soap will not only remove the subtle flavors that are left behind, but it will also add the flavor of the soap to the pot. The counterargument is that tea drinkers should always have a clean teapot in order to truly enjoy each different tea's unique flavors.
To wash a teapot, rinse the pot with warm water to remove any solid matter. Put a small bit of dish soap on a damp sponge and gently wash the teapot just as you would your dishes or pots and pans. Rinse the pot thoroughly with clean water until all dirt and soap are gone. Avoid using an abrasive scrubber on stainless steel, as it can cause scratches. It's also best to avoid the dishwasher for a delicate teapot that might break easily.
How to Clean a Teapot of Deposits
Calcium and other deposits don't come off a teapot with a regular rinsing or sponge wash. However, there are some common household products that are helpful in removing calcium buildup in pots.
For a clean teapot, try using white vinegar. Add equal parts of water and vinegar to the teapot and let it sit for at least an hour to loosen the minerals. After the time passes, turn on the stove and bring the vinegar and water solution to a boil. Allow it to boil for several minutes and then pour out the liquid. Wipe the tea kettle clean with a dry cloth. If there are still mineral deposits, repeat the process again. The same process can also work with lemon juice instead of vinegar.
Denture tablets can also loosen mineral deposits from a teapot. Fill the teapot three-quarters of the way with water and add two denture tablets. As the effervescence can cause the water to spill over, it's best to try this method in a sink. Let the bubbles work and then rinse the pot thoroughly.
Though there are products available for removing mineral deposits, it's best to avoid using harsh chemicals on teapots. Always read the product's label to ensure it's safe for your particular pot and rinse thoroughly after using it.