It’s not just neat-freaks who need to know how to clean a shower head: everyone should make a point to do this at least once a season for the sake of their health and their plumbing.
How to Clean a Shower Head
Although a nice, long shower is a great place to relax or even come up with some of your most creative ideas, if you haven’t cleaned your shower head lately, you are not getting nearly as clean as you think.
But there’s more to it than that.
One-third of shower heads tested by researchers were found to contain a bacteria associated with pulmonary disease. Dirty shower heads are also related to the spread of Legionnaires disease.
Fortunately, cleaning your shower head isn’t tricky. The payoff — besides a healthier bathing environment — is a better, stronger spray of water! Here’s how to clean yours.
Start with a Deep Cleaning
If it’s been a while since you last cleaned your shower head, or if you’ve never cleaned it at all, start with a deep cleaning.
1. Combine 3 cups of very hot water and 1 cup of white vinegar in a large bowl.
2. Remove your showerhead (usually by unscrewing) and shake out any excess water.
3. Put the shower head in the vinegar water and let it sit for 30 minutes.
4. Use an old toothbrush or bottle brush to scrub the shower head inside and out. Swirl to dislodge additional gunk and allow the shower head to sit an extra 5-10 minutes.
5. Give it one more scrub, drain the water, and rinse the shower head thoroughly.
6. Let the shower head fully air dry. Now is an excellent time to use the brush on the shower pipe’s threads to remove any buildup there, too. You may want to wrap Teflon plumber’s tape around the tube a few times to ensure a tight seal. Reattach the showerhead when it is completely dry.
Monthly Maintenance Cleaning
Once you’ve deep-cleaned your showerhead, you don’t need to remove it again unless you see significant buildup. Just spray it monthly with a vinegar-based cleaning solution (like this daily shower spray works) and scrub the spray nozzles to dislodge residue and bio-film. Run the shower to rinse the spray head, and you’re done.
If your showerhead does acquire stubborn buildup between deep cleanings, you can soak it in place to loosen the gunk before scrubbing. Just combine equal parts white vinegar and hot water in a plastic bag then attach it to your showerhead with a rubber band. Let that sit in place an hour, or even overnight, and scrub it with a brush to get it clean again.
Note: This post originally appeared in July 2013. It has been updated for republication.