Clean your showerhead with or without removing it, using household ingredients that remove mold, mildew, mineral deposits, and hard limescale.
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.
How Often Do Showerheads Need Cleaning?
In most cases, you only need to deep clean your showerhead once or twice a year. Sometimes, in humid environments or areas with hard water, you may need to do it more often if you see visible signs of pink or orange slime around the nozzles or mineral deposits, including a gray, green, or white crust which may block the nozzles or cause water to spray in a different direction than it should.
You can extend the time to deep clean your showerhead by misting it with a homemade daily shower cleaning spray which prevents both mildew and mineral deposits.
Steps to Clean Your Showerhead
Time required: 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.
Materials and Supplies You’ll Need
- Deep bowl
- Baking Soda
- White vinegar
- An old toothbrush or soft brush
- Dry rags
- Tweezers (optional)
- Wrench (optional)
Step 1. Remove the 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.
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.
Step 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.
Step 3. Apply 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.
Step 4. Soak
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.
Step 5. Scrub and 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.
Step 6. Reassemble
Once your showerhead is clean, let it completely air dry then reinstall the filter screen. Reattach the showerhead to the pipe.
Tips and Troubleshooting
• You can clean hand-held shower sprayers and their hoses in a large sink or 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.
• 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.
• 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.