How To Clean A Showerhead and Keep it Clean

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Clean your showerhead with or without removing it, using household ingredients that remove mold, mildew, mineral deposits, and hard limescale.

Mineral buildup and calcium scale on the rubber nozzles of a showerhead that needs cleaning.

It seems like your showerhead ought to be self-cleaning, but it’s not. All that water coursing through it carries calcium and minerals, especially if you live in a hard water area, and those can build up in the nozzles. Your showerhead also provides a warm, damp area between uses — the perfect breeding spot for mold.

Signs Your Showerhead Needs Cleaning

You may not be able to spot bacteria and slime buildup in your showerhead, but there are other signs that it’s time to give it a deep cleaning:

  • Water sprays in a different direction than it should.
  • Some nozzles in the showerhead don’t spray at all.
  • The shower’s water pressure is lower than before.
  • Water does not come out in a strong flow even with the faucet turned on all the way.
  • You see pink or orange slime around the nozzles.
  • There are visible mineral deposits, including gray, green, or white crust growing on the showerhead.

How to Deep Clean Your Showerhead

You will need:

  • Deep bowl
  • Baking Soda
  • White vinegar
  • An old toothbrush or soft brush
  • Dry rags
  • Tweezers (optional)
  • Wrench (optional)

Time needed: 30 minutes.

If it’s been a while since you last cleaned your showerhead, or if you’ve never cleaned it at all, this method will get rid of buildup and get your showerhead working like new.

  1. Remove your showerhead

    Unscrew your showerhead by hand. If you need to use a wrench, cover the jaws with a rag to protect your showerhead from damage. Shake excess water from your showerhead once it’s off.

  2. Remove the filter screen

    Locate the filter screen at the end of the showerhead where it attaches to the pipe. Use tweezers gently to remove this. Rinse both sides of the screen under running water to dislodge debris and remove sediment, then set it aside to dry.

  3. Sprinkle with baking soda

    Sprinkle your showerhead inside and out with baking soda then scrub it with an old toothbrush dipped in water. Do not rinse the showerhead yet.

  4. Soak it in vinegar

    Fill a deep bowl with 2 inches of vinegar then add your showerhead and let it soak for 20-30 minutes. It will fizz as the baking soda residue reacts with the vinegar. This action dislodges more buildup. Do not exceed the recommended soaking time.

  5. Rinse

    Use the toothbrush to scrub the showerhead again then rinse it with hot water inside and out. Repeat the previous step to remove stubborn limescale deposits that remain after rinsing.

  6. Reassemble

    Once your showerhead is clean, let it completely air dry then reinstall the filter screen. Reattach the showerhead to the pipe.

  7. Repeat As Needed

    You only need to deep clean your showerhead once or twice a year, or any time you notice sudden low water pressure or other signs that it’s clogged. Between deep cleanings, wipe it with cleaner when you’re cleaning your bathroom. You can keep mildew from growing on your showerhead by misting it with a homemade daily shower cleaning spray, which helps prevent mineral buildup, too.

How to Clean a Showerhead without Removing It

If you can’t get your showerhead off the pipe or don’t want to try, you can clean it in place by slipping a plastic bag filled with vinegar over it. Fasten the bag to the shower arm with a rubber band. Let this sit for an hour, remove the bag, and insert a toothpick or safety pin into the head’s nozzles to remove any debris. Finish by wiping the showerhead with a rag, and run the water to rinse away any residue.

How to Clean Hand-Held Showerheads

You can clean hand-held shower sprayers and their hoses following the steps above. If you can’t fit the hose into a large bowl, use a deep pot or even your bathtub. Submerge the sprayer and hose in vinegar for at least an hour, then rinse well, shake out excess water, and let it completely dry overnight.

Showerhead Cleaning Tips

• Never use chlorine bleach on your showerhead since it can damage the gasket and filter screen. Bleach can also permanently discolor some metals like brass and stainless steel.

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• Run your bathroom fan and open windows when cleaning your showerhead. Many types of bacteria that collect in dirty showerheads pose health risks that can lead to respiratory problems and skin rashes. Using good ventilation reduces their risk.

• Always rinse your showerhead thoroughly with water after cleaning it with vinegar. It is okay to soak most showerheads in vinegar for the time recommended, provided you rinse it thoroughly.

• If your showerhead drips where it attaches to the shower pipe, wrap the pipe’s threads three or four times with Teflon plumber’s tape to stop the drip.

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  1. Great tips! The Shower head came up a treat! Stupidly been using standard “bathroom cleaner” previously and could never get mould off. Goes to show – the old ways are the best ways – hooray for vinegar! Just a pity it makes my bathroom stink while you are soaking.

  2. Jenny Williams says:

    Hi I just discovered my shower head was so filled with mold yuk! I was ready to jump in shower and I had look up and there it was awful creature MOLD. I was wondering why my skin felt so itchy and my face felt like fire.

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