It’s a Saturday morning, and you’re tackling your regular cleaning tasks around the house. Maybe you always dust, vacuum, and put away the dishes. But as you’re cleaning your bathroom you realize that you haven’t cleaned the shower head in a while.
Even though it’s an easy task to keep putting off, regularly cleaning your shower head is actually quite important. Residue can build up over time, blocking the water from flowing correctly. Even worse, mineral buildup can prevent chlorine from flushing out irritants.
Trust us, you don’t want to deal with the bacteria, mold, and germs 🦠 that develop from dirty shower heads, so we’re going to outline:
- How to clean a shower head with or without vinegar
- How to clean the filter screen
- How often you should clean the shower head
How to Clean a Shower Head: Vinegar Method
Using vinegar to clean a shower head is one of the most tried-and-true methods of cleaning. Vinegar is a classic home-remedy cleaning method that can be used to clean many items like greasy pots & pans, dishwashers, and yes, shower heads.
What You’ll Need:
- Distilled white vinegar
- Baking soda
- Toothpick or paper clip
- Plastic food storage bag or large bowl
- Rubber bands or tape
Follow these steps to get a sparkling clean shower head by using vinegar:
Step 1: Decide on the bag or bowl method. The plastic bag method requires filling up the plastic bag halfway with vinegar and attaching it to the shower head. The bowl method requires you to detach the shower head and submerge it in a bowl of vinegar.
Step 2: If you choose the bag method (most common), place the food storage bag over the shower head until the entire unit is submerged in vinegar. Make sure the bag isn’t too full that it overflows, but if it doesn’t cover the entire shower head, add more vinegar at this step.
Step 3: Fasten the bag with a rubber band around the neck of the shower head. Carefully test to see that the bag won’t slip off. (Close the shower curtain or door at this step so that vinegar doesn’t spill on your bathroom floors if the bag isn’t secure.)
Step 4: Let the shower head soak in the vinegar for several hours or overnight for an even deeper clean. However, it’s important to note that brass shower heads shouldn’t soak in vinegar any longer than 30 minutes, and nickel-coated shower heads shouldn’t be in vinegar at all.
Step 5: Carefully untie the bag and remove it from the shower head. Pour the vinegar down the shower drain and add some baking soda while you’re at it to help remove some soap scum in the drain pipe. Just pour some boiling water down the drain to activate the baking soda.
Step 6: Run hot water through the shower for a minute to help flush out mineral deposits that could be stuck.
Step 7: If any nozzles still look clogged, use a toothpick to unclog them. If buildup remains, use a cleaning toothbrush dipped in dry baking soda to scrub the fixture. Turn the hot water back on to flush out the remaining residue. Repeat this step until the mineral deposits are clear.
Step 8: For a super-clean look, polish the shower head with a soft rag or cloth to remove water spots and stains.
If you’d rather use the bowl method, the steps are very similar, but instead, you’ll remove the shower head, soak it in a large bowl of vinegar for a few hours, reattach it, and continue with the same steps above to remove buildup.
Get the Same Clean Without Vinegar
If you don’t like the smell of distilled white vinegar, or if you don’t have any on hand, there are other options for cleaning your shower head with at-home products. What you’re looking for is a product that contains acid, which helps break down mineral deposits. Apple cider vinegar and lemon juice both fit the bill.
You can follow the same steps above but substitute apple cider vinegar or a combination of lemon juice and water for the distilled white vinegar. You also have the option to purchase a shower head descaler cleaning spray from a home improvement or department store. Just keep in mind that this method isn’t as natural and may contain harsh chemicals— be sure to follow the labeled directions carefully.
⌚ Tips for a Time Crunch:
If you just noticed how dirty your shower head is, and company is coming over soon, then you definitely don’t have time to soak your shower head for a few hours. Instead, you can scrub the shower head with a toothbrush and a combination of baking soda + some lemon juice.
After scrubbing, run hot water through the shower to clear out the mineral deposits.
How to Clean the Filter Screen
Sometimes, even soaking the shower head in vinegar overnight won’t solve all the backed-up mineral deposits. The issue could be coming from the filter screen inside the shower head.
If you’re still noticing water sputtering after initially cleaning the unit, remove the shower head so you can disassemble it and clean the filter screen.
What You’ll Need:
- Wrench or lockable pliers
- Needle-nose pliers
- Vinegar or commercial descaler spray
Follow these steps to clean the filter screen:
Step 1: Remove the shower head using a wrench or lockable pliers.
Step 2: Rinse the interior with water to help clear away debris.
Step 3: Remove the filter screen using needle-nose pliers.
Step 4: Rinse the filter screen with water, then let it soak in a bowl of vinegar for an hour or clean it with a descaling spray.
Step 5: Clean out the rest of the shower head by following the same steps outlined above.
Step 6: Reinstall the filter screen.
Step 7: Reattach the shower head.
Step 8: Run the shower with hot water at full water pressure for several minutes to flush out any remaining debris.
How Often You Should Clean Your Shower Head + Other Tips
Unfortunately, most things in your house or apartment should get cleaned more frequently than they probably do. It’s okay if your shower head is out of sight and out of mind for a while, but to avoid poor water pressure and mold & mildew growth, try to do a thorough cleaning at least every couple of months.
One way you can stay on top of keeping your shower head clean is by doing a quick wipe-down each week when you do the rest of your regular cleaning.
When you’re washing the bathtub and cleaning the bathroom mirror, simply spray the shower head with equal parts distilled white vinegar and water (or a commercial descaler). Scrub the nozzle with a cleaning toothbrush and run the shower for a few minutes. Regular cleaning like this will reduce the number of times you need to do a more lengthy cleaning process.
Other tips for a clean shower head:
- Perform a thorough cleaning as soon as you notice reduced water flow in your shower. The mineral deposits and buildup will only get worse the longer you let it be.
- You can install an exterior shower head filter between the shower head and waterline to help reduce mineral deposits and bacteria. A huge bonus is that a filter like this will often soften the water, leaving you with softer skin and hair.
- Plastic shower heads are more prone to mold growth, so when possible, opt for a metal shower head.
- Always turn on the bathroom fan during showers and baths, and let it run for several minutes afterward. The fan helps remove humidity quickly which can reduce mold and mildew growth in your bathroom.
Still Dealing With Low Water Pressure? Call Paladin Plumbing!
If you’re still experiencing low water pressure in your shower even after cleaning your shower head with the steps outlined here, then you might be dealing with a more extensive plumbing issue that should be left to the pros.
Our friendly bathroom plumbing experts will diagnose and fix your problem quickly, and you and your wallet will be happier than ever.
Contact us today for a free estimate!