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Have you had a problem with smelly kettle water?

A cup of tea with some biscuits

Can you help solve a mystery that’s threatening to ruin the breakfast time cuppa of tea drinkers up and down the country? Smelly kettle water. It’s a problem many of you seem to suffer, judging by comments we’ve had.

The problem came to the boil when several Which? members complained to us that water they heated in the Russell Hobbs Ebony 15076 kettle smells and has a ‘revolting’ plastic flavour that makes it ‘undrinkable’.

One of those who contacted us told us that they had tried reboiling and rinsing it several times, but the ‘plastic flavour’ wouldn’t go away.

What the problem is

One member told us:

‘It produces the most foul tasting water which renders tea, coffee etc undrinkable. No excuses here either as the water used was from a filter jug and regularly produces totally drinkable water from my other kettle.’

So we had a look at it in our lab where we test kettles and sure enough, there really is a problem with how the water tastes and smells when boiled. But why? Our white-coated wizards tested it for lots of different chemicals but couldn’t come up with an answer.

What Russell Hobbs told us about the smelly kettle

We asked Russell Hobbs if it could explain the problem. It said safety was its main concern and that all its products are thoroughly tested.

It apologised ‘to anyone who has had an unsatisfactory experience’, said that this was an isolated incident and that anyone concerned should contact its customer services team.

But now it seems the Ebony isn’t the only kettle that has this problem as we’ve heard of similar problems with other kettles and other brands.

Have you had this problem? Can you help solve the mystery of the smelly kettle water?

dougal says:
25 November 2018

I agree with malcolm r, 11 March 2018 – we bought a Russell Hobbs Legacy (dome) kettle which has, over two weeks, introduced the ‘plastic’ taste to a cup of tea; not really noticeable with coffee. Rather than try all of the other suggestions (like comparing pan boiled water with kettle boiled, or emptying the kettle each time etc.), I removed the red plastic 1/2/3 cup indicator and immediately brewed a pleasant cup of tea.


Thank you Malcolm r

Hi I just replace our Russell Hobbs kettle after about 4 years because the plastic level indicator started leaking. We replaced it with the Brooklyn model after boiling and cleaning before first use the drink tasted Vile, After three attempts at cleaning I finally had success with half a cup white vinegar and juice of a lemon topped up with hot water. and left over night ,Vile taste has gone.
It seems to me the taste is coming from some sort of coating on the bottom of the jug is it Teflon???

Dale Perkins says:
17 March 2019

Thanks Malcolm. We just bought a ‘Russell Hobbs 21886 Legacy Quiet Boil Electric Kettle, 3000 W, 1.7 Litre, Black’. Water tasted awful. We removed the three step red cup level indicator and the problem was immediately fixed. Saves sending back.


Sue, North Wales says:
24 March 2019

Thanks for solving the mystery because my mother has had the same problem with her Russell Hobbs 20460 kettle. We blamed it on the tap water but now we’ve removed the red plastic “1/2/3” cup level indicator from the inside the chemical taste has completely gone!! Hope this is harmless because the taste was foul!