/ Home & Energy

Does your kettle make your blood boil?

Leaks, loud noises, sticky lids – these are just a few of the problems you can run into with your kettle. Our testing helps weed out models prone to these issues, but which kettle problems really get on your nerves?

Kettles are an everyday product that many of us take for granted, yet they certainly inspire strong opinions among Which? members.

In fact, we get more reviews posted about kettles than almost any other product we test. Those reviews give us a wealth of insight into what you do and don’t like about kettles, which we’ve then used to improve our lab testing.

Your top 5 kettle complaints

Unclear and hidden water gauges were your fifth most common complaint with kettles, while difficult lids you struggle to open came in fourth. As a result of your feedback, we’ve changed the way we assess the water gauges on kettles, so that kettles with big, clear windows on either side are rated more highly.

Kettles which stay on once the kettle’s boiled – wasting energy in the process – were your third most common bugbear. So every kettle we test now has an ‘overboil’ rating, which also feeds into our test scores.

Noisy kettles are the second most common source of irritation to many of you, so we made noise levels a more important factor in determining a kettle’s overall test score.

But by far the most common complaint we get is about kettles that leak. As this is almost always a fault that develops over time, we can’t always tell from testing alone which kettles are most likely to leak a year or two down the line. But what we can do is survey thousands of small appliance owners every year to find out how reliable the big kettle brands really are.

What’s your biggest bugbear?

Personally, what I find most annoying is not being able to see how much water is in the kettle or the kettle having a high minimum fill level. I’m a stickler for waste, so I only like to boil as much water as I need. I recently bought a Best Buy kettle that has a really clear water gauge and can boil as little as one cup at a time and it’s been worth every penny so far.

So which of the above kettle complaints annoy you the most? Are there any issues I haven’t mentioned that really get your goat?

What is your biggest kettle bugbear?

Noisy kettles (30%, 141 Votes)

Leaky kettles (20%, 92 Votes)

Kettles that continue to heat water after boiling point (16%, 75 Votes)

Difficult lids (15%, 71 Votes)

Poor or unclear water gauges (11%, 50 Votes)

Other - tell us in the comments (8%, 39 Votes)

Total Voters: 469

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I searched high and low online to avoid buying a Chinese-made a kettle. I could only find a Philips kettle made in Poland. I have owned it for about 4 months roughly. A very basic kettle with no fancy lights or electronic gimmicks. It uses less power and although it takes a bit longer to boil, I’m happier with less power being guzzled. The filter actually catches those horrible bits of limescale. Best of all, it switches off quickly when the water comes to the boil, unlike other modern kettles I’ve used. It’s quite well balanced when pouring. Not a Which? Best Buy, but here it is:


I’ve learnt that a “basic” kettle does the job properly, seems to be better made rather than being made to only look fashionable and fail quickly. The customer reviews on that page seem to say the same thing.

A point about noise in kettles: although kettle design is a factor, I think there is a more important one – and it sounds a bit odd! A lot depends on how much ‘fur’ there is in your kettle.

I posted a comment earlier about a Bifinett kettle we use in Spain, in a very hard water area. When this begins to get furred up, it’s very quiet. If I then descale it, it’s much louder when heating up – MUCH louder.

So it may be as well to check this aspect before judging kettles on their noise. (It’s all to do with cavitation – it’s the bubbles that make the noise – honest!)

Colin says:
26 October 2012

My Kenwood kettle turns off, sometimes several times, before it has boiled.

I have seen quite a number of Kenwood kettles with this problem. Users sometimes sit something on the switch to keep it on, which does not seem a very safe thing to do.

Sue Sawyer says:
26 October 2012

My mother finds the weight of her kettle too much even when half full

Small lightweight kettles are available.

mMrs Maureen Cameron says:
26 October 2012

Bought a new morphy richards kettle 3 weeks ago.I have never owned a kettle before with such a short lead. I have lights under my kitchen units and when the kettle is on i cannot bring the kettle out far enough from the wall socket with the result the steam is going directly on to the lights and i don’t think this is very safe. Also the kettle is so hard to lift of the heating element base. I have to practically pull at it to get it off. A friend watched me doing this and passed the remark that some day i was going to scald myself, so it looks as though i wasted my money on this kettle and i will have to purchase a safer one.I will read about the ones in this month’s “Which” before i purchase.

The excess cord might be wrapped around underneath the base? Take the kettle off the base and turn the base upside-down and unwind the cord, being sure the cord goes through one of the gaps in the side of the base.

Sionni says:
26 October 2012

Kettles that will not pour without dribbling down the side so that when placed on the stand they sit in droplets of water and may be liable to drip into the electrical contacts when taken off and on the stand. There seems to be no testing of pouring capability in the Which arsenal of tests. I would have thought the handling/pouring of water, often boiling water, was a paramount safety necessity. this is not the same as filling the kettle which requires different actions and holding angles.

George Glover says:
26 October 2012

About fifteen months ago we purchased a Breville stainless steel kettle, one in your recommended list. The cost was about £60. After just over the twelve month period, it stopped working. The kettle was tested and the fault was a failed element. On contacting Breville we were told that replacement elements were not available and could not be supplied. The kettle was duly sent to the amenity tip! We do not expect to pay this level of expeniture for poor quality goods and support.

I too have had to throw away a Breville kettle whose element burned out after 4 years (I thought THAT was a short life!). Like you I contacted Breville and was told that particular model was now obsoleste, and that no spares were available. So much for the ‘green economy’!

Elizabeth Lyon says:
26 October 2012

I am amazed that people have so many problems with their kettles! Mine, a Breville Fastboil, costing under £20, has none. It is fast, not noticeably noisy (just sufficiently so for me to know that I have remembered to switch it on), has a good clear gauge on both sides, so that it is just as easy for left-handers to use, and successfully deals with just one mugful of water before switching off promptly. This kettle has given me no problems in the eighteen months or so I have had it, and is the second of that make I have bought. The plastic of the first one did start to degrade after a few years causing a small leakage eventually.

Living, as I do,.on an island in the Inner Hebrides , our water is extremely soft, so that there is no limescale problem, and I have removed the filter from the spout of the kettle.

I might add that I always switch the socket off at the wall after using the appliance, and make sure there is no water left in the kettle overnight.

We recently discarded a plastic Swan kettle which had deteriorated in appearance and was pouring poorly because the plastic casing had degraded. We replaced it with a Morphy Richards “value” model which worked well but did not have an ON indicator light and the lid had to be pulled open rather than being sprung open by depressing a button. It was soon replaced by a better and pricier stainless steel model, also Morphy Richards, which has no obvious faults, boils quickly, pours well, keeps clean, has an adequate water level gauge, and will boil as little as two cupfuls. Its only drawback is a tendency to noisiness but the remedy for this is to stand the base on a rubber mat – the noise was being amplified by reverberation through the cupboards beneath the kitchen counter.

There aren’t many reasons for using water at or over boiling point, so over-boiling is extremely wasteful. It is necessary to boil water to sterilise it but most requirements can be met with hot or very hot water. The water for the best cup of tea should be caught the moment it starts to boil and never re-boiled. For instant coffee, boiled water ruins the flavour, and the same goes for cup soups and other powdered drinks, for beef extract drinks, stock or gravies, and for cough & cold sipping tonics. So why are we fixated with having over-filled powerful water boilers? When very hot water is required for cleansing purposes, filling the kettle from the hot tap can be more economical if the internal pipe run is short.

James Derek says:
26 October 2012

I use my Kettle on my gas hob,I believe it is cheaper than an Electric Kettle.

Katherine says:
26 October 2012

Short cables. There is a finite amount of bench space, and with a microwave, toaster, kettle etc all competing for space it is very irritating to purchase a kettle online, only to discover the cable is only 40cm long. It’s not something people tend to mention in product descriptions or write-ups.

Short cables are safer. As pointed out above, you can probably unwind it to make it longer, or you could fit an extra socket where it is needed.

My biggest bugbear is that my kettle fails to turn off after the water has boiled…I don’t mean boiling for longer than necessary, I mean it just keeps going! This has happened to several of my kettles over the years, and my current model does it, but very intermittently. The supplier has replaced it once already but even the replacement is doing the same thing…and apart from being a risk of burnout, it also fills the house with condensation, and dripping water all around the kitchen.

This heated debate demonstrates an urgent need for a regulator to ensure that electric kettle manufacture is regulated. I propose the regulator is named OFBOIL.

Rachel Henderson says:
27 October 2012

My kettle bugbear is never being able to buy a ‘Fast Boil’ hidden element kettle. I have tried different brands and they last just a few months and that’s it. On the other hand, I have a bog-standard exposed element kettle that I bought cheaply when our local Woolworths closed down and the only thing that has failed is the filter, which became brittle and broke because our water is very hard.

Gill says:
27 October 2012

My previous Philips Kettle lasted five years until it gave up the ghost. We had been pleased with it so decided to buy another. They no longer made the same model so we settled for another, similar one, by Philips. This one not only continues to boil after switch off, but the handle burns my hand too, so I almost drop it when I put it down quickly. The heat seems to come from between the plastic joins on the side of the handle. I would return it but I don’t have my original receipt from Argos where I bought it.

Rachel Henderson says:
27 October 2012

My cousin bought us a plastic electric kettle (traditional kettle shape) as a wedding present in 1971. It was red, with a white lid, and as we had our presents on show, it was the talking point of the day, being absolutely the latest thing in kitchenware. It lasted several years until the plastic of the lid began to degrade and we had to discard it.

Fisherman says:
27 October 2012

My pet hate is kettles which drip from the spout after you have poured the water out.

Does anyone use a metal “kettle” on the stove?

I’m wondering if anyone has used a stovetop kettle on an induction hob? When the day comes and I’m forced to get a new cooker, I will get one with an induction cooktop – apparently these induction hobs heat water as fast (or faster?) than an electric kettle? At least with a stovetop kettle there are worries about buying a new kettle ever again (if it never leaks!), just have to keep the stovetop kettle free from limescale by descaling it every few months.

If a magnet will stick to the bottom of your stove-top kettle, you should have no problems with an induction hob.

PHil says:
27 October 2012

The current bugbear with my kettle is it dribbling. This seems to be related to the plastic on the edge of the spout showing some wear and is worse when it needs descaling. Now this has happened I’ve noticed some friends kettles have the same problem.

Limescale is a constant nuisance if you live in a hard water area, as I do! If you get limescale around the spout and top of the kettle, simply get some kitchen roll and wet it with clear vinegar. Wrap this vinegar-soaked kitchen paper around the scaled areas and cover tightly with clingfilm (to stop the vinegar drying out), leave overnight. Rub the scale off the next morning and it’s gone. 🙂

When it’s time to descale the kettle, remember you can also soak the limescale filter in clear vinegar overnight, but you have to handle these filters extremely carefully because they are fragile – too fragile! I’ve torn them in my previous kettles, so now I treat the filter as a delicate item. They should make these filters out of metal to avoid ripping or cracking.


My Breville stainless steel kettle does have a stainless steel filter. Compared with plastic filters it is coarser but still prevents limescale getting into my coffee. It is non-removable but if it does get blocked up it would be strong enough to be brushed clean.

June says:
29 October 2012

I like to have a kettle that allows me to set different temperatures – for example, coffee shouldn’t be made with boiling water, and I quite often want water that is just ‘hot’, for various cooking purposes (or even filling a hot-water bottle). It seems wasteful to heat water to a higher temperature than is required. My present kettle, a Russell Hobbs bought a couple of years ago, allows temperature settings between 60 and 100 degrees and has performed extremely well.

Excellent. It’s always good to learn about new products that deal with problems that I was unaware of.