Your shower head can harbor mold, harmful bacteria, and crusty mineral buildup. Time to clean it.
It seems like your showerhead ought to be self-cleaning, but it’s not. All that water coursing through it carries minerals, especially if you live in a hard water area, and those can build up in the nozzles. Your showerhead provides a warm, damp area in between uses — the perfect breeding spot for mold. In fact, scientists have found that residential showerheads harbor mycobacterium, which can cause lung disease.
Signs Your Shower Head Needs Cleaning
You may not be able to spot bacteria and slime buildup in your shower head, 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 shower head don’t spray at all
- The pressure coming out of the showerhead is low even with the water turned on all the way
- You see pink or orange slime around the nozzles, or
- There’s gray, green, or white crust growing on the showerhead.
How to Deep Clean Your Shower Head
If it’s been a while since you last cleaned your shower head, or if you’ve never cleaned it at all, this method will get rid of the buildup and get your showerhead working like new.
- Deep bowl
- Baking Soda
- Soft toothbrush
- Dry rags
- Tweezers (optional)
- Wrench (optional)
- Remove your shower head by unscrewing it, using a wrench if necessary. Shake out any excess water.
- Use the tweezers to remove the filter screen. This is located at the end of the showerhead, where it attaches to the pipe. Rinse the filter screen on both sides to dislodge any mineral buildup, then set it aside.
- Sprinkle the showerhead inside and out with 1-2 tablespoons of baking soda. Dip your toothbrush in water and use this to scrub the surface of the showerhead lightly. Do not rinse.
- Submerge the showerhead into a bowl filled with 2 inches of vinegar. This will foam a bit, and the foaming action will dislodge more buildup. Let the showerhead soak in the vinegar for a few hours or even overnight.
- Scrub the showerhead gently with a toothbrush and rinse it with plain water. Let it fully air dry, then reinstall the filter screen. Reattach the shower head to the pipe.
If you can’t remove your showerhead, you can clean it in place by slipping a plastic bag filled with vinegar over the head. Fasten the bag to the shower pipe with a rubber band. Let this sit for an hour, remove the bag, wipe the showerhead with a rag, and run the water to rinse away any residue.
Cleaning Hand-Held Shower Sprayers
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, a deep pot or even your bathtub will work. 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.
Keeping Your Shower Head Clean
How often you’ll need to clean your showerhead depends on how quickly mildew and mineral buildup returns, but usually, once or twice a year is enough. You can keep mildew from growing on your shower head by misting it with a homemade daily shower cleaning spray, which helps prevent mineral buildup, too.
Never use bleach on your shower head since it can damage the gasket and filter screen. Bleach can also permanently discolor some metals, so stick with the vinegar and baking soda method to clean your showerhead instead.
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