How to Clean a Shower Head the Right Way

Evelyn Long

Dec 12, 2022

a close up of a shower head for demonstrating how to clean shower head

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What’s better at the end of a long day than a nice hot shower cascading down your back? Turning on the tap only to be greeted with a slow trickle is a disappointment, to say the least. However, without regular cleaning, this could be a reality. Over time, mineral deposits build up in your shower head, clogging the nozzles and leaving you with a less-than-satisfying experience. 

To make matters worse, bacteria can also accumulate and multiply inside and join the water you wash yourself with — not exactly a pretty picture. However, many people avoid caring for their shower until something goes wrong. It seems like it would be complicated to wash, but once you know how to clean a shower head, you won’t feel the need to put it off anymore. 

How Often Should You Clean a Shower Head?

To keep bacteria growth at bay, you should give your shower head a quick clean each week when you scrub the rest of your shower. Simply spray some vinegar on the surface and scrub with your sponge or a toothbrush. Finally, let the water run through the nozzles for a while to let any loosened debris flow through. 

Once a month, you should do a more thorough cleaning to remove set-in bacteria, mineral deposits and hard water stains. 

Supplies You’ll Need

You don’t need any specialty cleaners to scrub your shower head effectively. You probably already have most of the supplies you need. 

  • Rubber band
  • Plastic bag
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Microfiber cloth 
  • Wrench
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Large bowl
  • Toothpicks
  • Sealant tape

How to Clean a Shower Head

Like with any other appliance or fixture, everyone has their own method of cleaning their shower head. However, most can be categorized into one of two main strategies. 

Hanging Method

For this method, you won’t need to pull the showerhead down — you can clean it while still attached. 

  1. Wrap a sturdy rubber band around the pipe behind the shower head a few times.
  2. Fill a plastic bag with distilled white vinegar, leaving a little room at the top to accommodate the shower head.
  3. Place the bag over your shower head so its entire expanse is resting in the liquid. 
  4. Pull the rubber band over the plastic bag to secure it. If you have a zip tie at home, that could help strengthen the connection, but it isn’t necessary. 
  5. Soak your shower head in the vinegar for 1 hour. 
  6. After the time is up, remove the bag and run the water for a few minutes to flush out any loose debris. 
  7. Finish the job by lightly scrubbing the surface with a soft cloth. 

While some homeowners appreciate the simplicity of not needing to remove the shower head, this method is still challenging. Keeping the bag from slipping off is more complicated than it looks. You’ll need to check on it frequently to ensure the shower head stays in the liquid and the bag doesn’t fall off. 

Removal Method

This strategy requires you to remove the shower head completely, which is easier than you may think. When your shower head needs an especially deep clean, this is the method you need in your bag of tricks. 

  1. Use a wrench to remove your showerhead from the arm. Use your fingers or a soft cloth to remove any large debris you see. 
  2. Looking inside the device, you should see a small metal grate. If it’s clogged with build-up, you can use needle-nosed pliers to remove the gasket holding it in place to pull it out for a more thorough cleaning. 
  3. Next, fill a large bowl with distilled white vinegar, leaving enough room for your shower head. 
  4. Fully submerge your shower head in the vinegar and let it soak for at least an hour, preferably all day or overnight, depending on when you shower. 
  5. After it’s finished soaking, remove it from the bowel and use your fingers or a toothpick to agitate the nozzles. You should see tiny flecks of mineral deposits and other build-up coming out. 
  6. Once everything looks clear, use a gentle cleaner or more vinegar and a microfiber cloth to clean the metal surface, removing the loosened water stains. 
  7. Now it’s time to reattach the shower head. Put it back on in the same way you took it off, but this time add some sealant tape to the threads to prevent future water leaks. A small strip is enough to do the job. 
  8. Finally, let the water run through your shower for a few minutes to thoroughly remove anything leftover debris. 

This method is great because it isn’t quite as finicky as the hanging technique. It can soak unattended while you do other things. You’ll also be able to examine it more carefully and get every last bit of debris out, including what’s residing inside the pipe behind your shower head.  

Regular Maintenance Is Key 

While it’s important to do a thorough cleaning once a month or at least every other month, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and energy if you do a quick scrub each time you take care of your shower. This regular maintenance will keep your shower pressure high and harmful bacteria from washing over you. Learning how to clean a shower head is easy — keeping up with it is another story. Add this habit to your cleaning routine to keep your shower as clean as you are. 

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