You probably don’t think about how often you use your shower head — and that means you don’t think about how to clean a showerhead. But you’d be surprised (and horrified) at how much and how easily dirt can build up on that little appliance.
Cleaning a showerhead is very straightforward. Your cleaning product is right in your kitchen: white vinegar, the all-powerful and all-purpose home cleaner. There are two ways to clean a shower head: while it’s still attached, and while it’s removed from the arm. Which method you choose will depend on how clogged your shower head is, so inspect first before cleaning!
Want to keep your showers feeling fresh? Here’s how to clean a shower head — and with stuff that’s already in your home.
Why Clean A Shower Head?
If a shower head just sprays water, shouldn’t it be clean? Nope! Mineral deposits from water and other dirt build up over time, especially if you live in a hard water area. This then causes your showerhead to spray unevenly, or in every which way. In fact, inconsistent water pressure is a clear sign that yep — your shower head needs a good scrubbing.
Besides a better shower experience, cleaning your shower head is also good for your health. An enclosed, wet environment is perfect for mould, mildew, and bacteria to thrive. If there’s some questionable crust or slime along the edges of your shower head, it’s time to deep clean. Otherwise, you’re probably not getting very clean when you shower!
How To Clean A Shower Head
If your shower head is starting to sputter, it’s time to get cleaning. But before you run out to the shops for a commercial product, know that you already have something to use right in your home. Vinegar is the ultimate shower head cleaner, and with a few other tools, you’ll be feeling super fresh after your next shower.
Shower head inspection
The first thing to do before anything else is inspect your shower head. Check for mineral deposits and how bad they’ve crusted — sometimes all it takes is some scrubbing to get it off. Turn on the tap — if water is coming out of the nozzle or the spray holes just fine, then light cleaning will do. If water flow is restricted, or the buildup seems severe, you may need to detach the shower head to deep clean.
(And if the water’s down to a dribble, well… That’s some intensely deep cleaning.)
If your shower is dirtier than you think you can manage, or you’d rather leave it up to the professionals, you can hire a house cleaning service to handle it for you! Otherwise, grab your cleaning supplies — and make sure no one needs to shower first!
Cleaning a shower head without removing it
For how to clean a shower head without removing it, you’ll need the following:
- White vinegar
- Plastic bag (one that fits over your shower head)
- A rubber band or two
- Soft cloths
- Fill the plastic bag with vinegar partway, or enough to cover the entire shower head. If you don’t want too strong a smell, you can dilute the vinegar with hot water.
- Slip the rubber band around the shower head and onto the connecting hose. Loop it once or twice — you want it tight.
- Insert the shower head into the plastic bag until the whole thing is soaked. You may need extra hands for this part!
- Secure the bag using the rubber band and make sure it holds up. Alternatively, use some string to tie the bag closed.
- Wait an hour or two for the vinegar to work its magic.
- Remove the bag carefully (don’t spill!) and run the shower on hot to flush out any traces. Use this step to check the water pressure too.
- If your water runs clean and free, you’re done! Polish your shower head with a soft cloth, and enjoy your next shower in peace.
Deep cleaning a shower head
If a vinegar soak and scrub doesn’t remove all the mineral deposits, or if you notice something funky on your shower head, then it’s time for a deeper clean. Do this at night so no one needs to shower, since it’ll take a while to clean thoroughly!
To deep clean a shower head, you’ll need:
- White vinegar
- Old toothbrush
- Toothpick or similar small, pointed tool
- Bicarb soda
- Bottle brush
- Dish soap or other gentle detergent
- Hot water
- Soft cloths
- Start by removing your shower head. Depending on your shower head model, you can either unscrew the nut that connects it to the shower arm, or simply twist the shower head off. Cushion your tool with a rag so you don’t scratch your fittings!
- Run water through the shower head by turning your faucet to max and holding it underneath. Rotate the shower head so all areas are doused. This will help loosen debris before cleaning.
- Scrub the shower head with an old toothbrush dipped in vinegar. You can also make a paste from bicarb soda and vinegar or hot water, especially if the mineral deposits are stubborn!
- Use the toothpick to clean the small holes and any other additional deposits. You can use it to scour any grooves and crevices too.
- Dismantle your shower head (carefully!), down to any filters, washers, and water restrictors. Rinse them under running water, then set them aside to soak in equal parts water and vinegar. Scrub with a toothbrush if needed.
- Clean the interior of your shower head with the toothbrush. You can also get into the pipe with a bottle brush dipped in water and dish soap.
- Soak all the parts of your shower head in vinegar overnight. This will remove any remaining limescale deposits, and kill off any mould or bacteria starting to grow. You can add a tablespoon or two of bicarb soda for some added cleaning power!
- Rinse and wipe off your fittings in the morning after they’ve had a good soak. If needed, go over them with a toothbrush to make sure they’re completely clean.
- Reassemble your shower head then run it to check the spray and make sure everything is in working order. Wipe and polish to a shine, and you’re good to go for the morning’s first bath!
How to descale a shower head
For metal showerheads, limescale and other mineral deposits can build up over time. You’ll recognise these by the white, powdery traces on the surface. Cleaning limescale off metal is called descaling, and you’ll have to descale your shower head from time to time.
You can descale your shower head by soaking it in vinegar, or you can grab an old toothbrush, some hot water, and some bicarb soda.
Make a paste from the bicarb soda and water. Dip the old toothbrush into the cleaning substance and give your shower head a good scrubbing. Focus on areas where there is pronounced mineral buildup. The toothbrush combined with the natural abrasiveness of bicarb soda will scrape the limescale off.
Shower Head Cleaning Tips
Don’t use bleach as it can be caustic and may degrade shower heads. It may also damage other fittings inside your bathroom.
Don’t use a hard bristled brush, especially if your shower fittings are made from chrome and other protected metals. You’ll risk scratching or scuffing the surface. An old toothbrush or other soft bristled tools are better.
Ventilate your bathroom while you work, or if you’re using a commercial cleaning product. Bathrooms are generally small and enclosed, so fumes build up easier. If you’re cleaning in the shower, open up the windows!
It’s best to clean your shower head at least once a month, and wipe it down with vinegar about once a week. This helps maintain your shower head and prevents or slows down build up of mineral deposits and bacteria. Then when you’re done, run the shower for a bit before getting under the water — just to make sure everything’s working and clean!