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How to Clean Your Shower Head

Person holding a shower head with a gloved hand, preparing to clean it
GTbov/Shutterstock

You might not think much about the cleanliness of your shower head—until it stops working correctly. When it’s clogged or spraying water every which way but at you, it’s time to get serious about cleaning it.

While you may be tempted to switch out your shower head for something new and fresh (especially if you have a boring old shower head with only one setting), you don’t have to spend much money to clean your old one and make it look shiny and new. There’s a good chance you can find everything you need to rid your showerhead of mineral deposits and blockages right in your kitchen (and even if you can’t, it’ll only cost a few bucks to pick up the supplies at the store).

Clean Your Shower Head Overnight with Vinegar

The easiest and cheapest way to clean your shower head is with some white vinegar. If you own a coffee maker, you should already have vinegar on hand. It’s excellent for descaling both coffee makers and shower heads. It’s also the safer choice because there’s no scrubbing that may scratch your shower head.

You don’t need to remove any parts; you just need vinegar, a plastic bag, and a rubber band. Here are the steps:

  • Place a rubber band over your shower head. Wrap it around more than once if it doesn’t fit tight to the pipe behind the head.
  • Fill a plastic bag (a sandwich bag will do) with white vinegar. Attach the bag over the showerhead, putting the open edges of the bag under the rubber band.
  • Pull the bag up, into the rubber band, as far as you can, until the shower head is fully immersed in the vinegar.
  • For a showerhead that is relatively new or has been cleaned recently, one hour is a reasonable amount of time to let it sit in vinegar. If your shower head is old and has never been cleaned, or it’s been months since you cleaned it, you can let the vinegar sit overnight for a deeper clean.
  • Once you remove the bag of vinegar, do a quick shower head flush by turning the water on. Then, wipe the head down with a soft cloth.

The water should flow freely with no random side sprays from the nozzles or clogged openings. If not, it’s time for a deep clean.

Deep Cleaning with Vinegar

If even soaking your shower head in vinegar overnight wasn’t enough to get all the mineral deposits off of it, you’ll have to try something a little more drastic: removing the shower head so you can give it a deep cleaning.

The steps for this cleaning project are a little more involved than the simple bag method in the previous section, and you’ll need a wrench to remove the nut holding the shower head onto the pipe. Here’s what to do:

  • Remove the shower head using the appropriate tools. Be careful not to scratch the finish. You may want to use a cloth to pad and protect it.
  • Rinse the shower head with a high blast of water. Run it through the front and the back of the head, as you want to loosen debris.
  • To get stubborn deposits, use a soft toothbrush to scrub the shower head. Dip it in vinegar first. You can also use a toothpick to poke through the holes and remove stuck deposits inside.
  • Put your shower head in a bowl, completely cover it with vinegar, and let it sit overnight. If you need a more abrasive clean, put some baking soda in with the vinegar bath.
  • Remove the shower head from the bowl and rinse it thoroughly before reattaching it to the shower arm with the proper tools. You may want to use some plumbing tape on the threads of the arm to ensure a tight fit.

A Few Final Tips

If you want the easy fix for a clean shower head, be sure to do the simple vinegar bath at least once a month. You may also want to clean the surface of your showerhead with a rag and some white vinegar once a week.

Open a window to ventilate and keep the bathroom door open while cleaning. Even vinegar can be a bit strong to breathe in. Other cleaners require proper ventilation. You may want to turn on the ventilation fan, even if you also have a window open.

Don’t use bleach to clean your shower head. You need the acidity of the vinegar to break down the mineral deposits.

Finally, never use anything with hard bristles to clean your shower head. It will scratch the surface and leave scuff marks. Always use a soft-bristled toothbrush and soft cloths. This will keep your showerhead clean, safe, and working well for years to come.

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow has been a professional writer for almost two decades. Yvonne has worked for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and much more as a writer and editor. She's also a published poet and a short story writer. Read Full Bio »

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