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How to Clean
a Shower Head

December 9, 2021

Depending on where your water comes from, your shower head is subjected to all kinds of abuse from lime buildup to mineral deposits daily. We know you work hard to keep your bathroom clean. You scrub your tub, clean your shower, and keep mold and mildew at bay. But when was the last time you cleaned your shower head? If the answer is “never,” or you didn’t know you could do such a thing, here’s how to clean a shower head to make it look and work like new.

How Often Should You Clean Your Shower Head?

How often you should clean a shower head depends on what kind of water you use in your home and other factors. If you use hard water with lots of dissolved minerals, for example, you may have to clean your shower head more often because the nozzles get clogged. But clogged shower nozzles are just one of the reasons to clean your shower head.

A shower head is damp and warm—the perfect conditions for mold and bacteria to breed. Research finds that residential shower heads harbor mycobacterium, contaminants that can lead to lung disease and other illnesses. The good news is you can minimize the mold and bacteria by cleaning your shower at least every three months.

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If it’s been a while since you’ve cleaned your shower head, here are some sure signs it’s time:

  • Water sprays sideways, up, down, or all directions!
  • Some water nozzles don’t spray at all.
  • Water pressure seems to be getting weaker over time.
  • There is pale gray or green slime around the nozzles or on the shower head.

Now that you know what to look for, here’s how to clean a shower head to get rid of buildup, germs, and mold.

How to Clean a Shower Head With Vinegar

So what is the best way to clean a shower head? You may be surprised that you likely already have the ideal way to clean a shower head right in your kitchen cabinet. Distilled white vinegar is one of the most versatile, safe, and natural products you can use around your home. Vinegar can be used as a disinfectant, bleach alternative, weed killer, and an ideal way to get a shower head squeaky clean.

  • Fill a one-gallon plastic bag about a third of the way with distilled white vinegar. We find that cleaning a shower head with vinegar produces results just as good as commercial cleaners.
  • Place the bag of white vinegar over the shower head, ensuring the fixture is completely submerged.
  • Tie the bag to the shower head neck with string or twist ties. Make sure the bag is secure, so it won’t slide off when you let go.
  • Only soak brass or other metal-coated shower heads for 30 minutes; you can soak other materials for four hours. For shower heads with a lot of limescale and other buildup, you may need to leave the bag attached overnight.
  • Untie the bag, remove it from the shower head, and pour the vinegar down the drain.
  • Run hot water for a minute to flush loosened mineral deposits stuck in the shower head.
  • If there is still buildup in the spray holes, scrub the face of the shower head with an old toothbrush.
  • Polish the shower head with a microfiber cloth for a nice finishing touch.

See? Cleaning a shower head with vinegar is so easy! But did you know you can get your shower head even cleaner by removing it from the shower pipe?

  • Remove the shower head and then pull out the screen from the connection end.
  • Submerge your shower head in a container of white vinegar for the recommended time.
  • Clean the screen with warm water and an old toothbrush to remove deposits.
  • When your shower head is through soaking, put everything back together and run some hot water to clear things out.

How to Clean a Shower Head With Baking Soda

Another everyday household staple that deodorizes, degreases, and cleans is baking soda. Baking soda is also an effective shower head cleaner. The mild abrasiveness provides the scrubbing power, and the slight acidity cuts through buildup. Using baking soda to clean a shower head is a quicker process than using vinegar and is a gentle method you can use for regular cleaning. It’s also a safe and natural mold remedy you can use all around your bathroom.

  • Mix baking soda and enough water to make a thick paste in a bowl.
  • Spread the baking soda paste all over the shower head and rub it into the spray holes.
  • Let the baking soda work on the buildup for 30 minutes.
  • Use a toothbrush to clean out stubborn buildup from the spray holes.
  • Run hot water for a minute to flush debris from the shower nozzles.
  • Rinse the shower head and use a microfiber cloth to give it a shine.

How to Unclog a Shower Head

Sometimes the spray nozzles on your shower head can get clogged with minerals, scale, and soap residue. For a quick and effective shower nozzle cleaner, a can of soda like cola does a great job breaking down and loosening hardened buildup.

  • Pour a can of carbonated soda into a plastic bag.
  • Position the bag of soda over your shower head to completely submerge it.
  • Wrap a rubber band around the bag to secure it to the water pipe.
  • Let your shower head soak for about 30 minutes.
  • Remove the bag and pour the soda down the drain.
  • Run hot water from the shower to clear out the loosened debris.
  • Remember to clean the sugary soda residue from the shower head and then polish to a beautiful shine.

From how to clean a shower head to shower doors and other cleaning checklists, The Maids is proud to share our decades of house cleaning knowledge with our field-tested cleaning guides. Whether you prefer to let us take care of the dirty work or you use our DIY methods, we want your home to be a cleaner and healthy place to live. Find out more when you get a free, no-obligation quote for your home.

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