How to Clean a Shower Head? – Most Effective Ways

How to Clean a Shower head

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More than 85% of homes in the US receive municipal water which is classified as hard water. The minerals in the hard water build-up over time and they clog the shower head and also the water pipes. You’ll know it’s time to clean the showerhead if the water trickles, as an unclogged showerhead delivers a powerful stream of water when showering. Also, the build-up of minerals in your showerhead encourages the growth of mildew, mold, and bacteria and it increases the risk of developing an infection. Follow the steps below when cleaning your showerhead.

What You’ll Need:

  • Wrench
  • Old rag
  • Old toothbrush
  • Soft cloth-like flannel or microfiber
  • White vinegar
  • Bucket or pot
  • Plumbing tape

The cleaning frequency of your showerhead depends on the water supply, if you receive municipal water, then you need to clean your showerhead more often. Showerheads come in two designs; they can be removable or non-removable. Follow these simple steps;

How to clean removable showerheads?

  • Have the necessary tools

Make sure you have all the tools and cleaning agents listed above for a thorough cleaning and unclogging of your showerhead.

  • Remove the showerhead

Most showerheads can be removed by twisting them in a counter-clockwise direction. If the shower is too old and you are having problems twisting it. Try using an old rag and a pipe wrench, wrap the old rag around the showerhead connecting nut, and use a pipe wrench to twist it. The old rag helps protect the showerhead’s surface and appearance.

  • Place it in a bucket or container

The bucket should be small-sized for you to use less vinegar during the unclogging process; it should fit the showerhead.

  • Fill it with white vinegar

Pour undiluted white vinegar into the small bucket or basin containing the showerhead. White vinegar is an acid that helps dissolve the whitish mineral deposit build-up in the showerhead forming a salt.

  • Let it soak

The time you should leave the showerhead to soak depends on the size of the white residue, the bigger the residue, the more time it takes for the acid to fully dissolve it. Ideally, you should leave it to soak overnight for the best results.  If you can’t wait that long, transfer the contents into a cooking pot and simmer it for 15 minutes using a stove. Please note that you can only heat metal showerheads. Showerheads made of gold and nickel finishes should be removed from the stove after 30 minutes and rinsed off with vinegar.

  • Rinse the showerhead

After leaving it to cool for some time, rinse it off with lots of clean water. At this point, you will see the white mineral deposits flaking off as you rinse it.

  • Scrub the showerhead

Using an old toothbrush, scrub the white residue focusing more at the base and where the build-up is more prevalent. Continue scrubbing till all the mineral deposits come off before rinsing it with clean water.

  • Polish the showerhead

Using the microfiber cloth, polish the rinsed showerhead till it’s completely dry.

  • Install the showerhead

If you are certain that the white residue is gone, re-install the showerhead and wrap some plumbing tape on the pipe threads and screw the showerhead.

  • Open the water flow

Turn on the water for a few minutes, as it helps remove any remaining white residues that you may have missed during the scrubbing process. At this point, your showerhead is ready for use, and the water stream should be powerful.

How to clean a non-removable showerhead?

  • The supplies

In this case, you need to use a plastic bag that should be big enough to fit the non-removable showerhead. Also, you need pieces of strings to tie the plastic bag after pouring in vinegar.

  • Pour vinegar into the plastic bag

Don’t fill the bag with the vinegar solution, pour just enough to submerge the showerhead, otherwise, if you fill the bag, it will overflow when you insert the showerhead.

  • Submerge the showerhead

Lift the bag containing the vinegar solution and submerge the non-removable showerhead in it.

  • Tie the plastic bag

Using a piece of string, tie the plastic bag on top of the shower pipe, making sure that the pipe is submerged. Also, make sure the string holds the plastic bag such that it won’t fall when you step away.  Vinegar can be corrosive when it spills on your skin surface.

  • Leave it to soak

Let the showerhead soak overnight except for brass, gold, and nickel-coated showerheads. You need to take them out after 30 minutes of soaking; otherwise, they get corroded and damaged. Soaking the showerhead overnight gives the vinegar solution enough time to fully dissolve the white mineral deposits.

  • Remove the bag

You need to be careful when removing the plastic bag as vinegar is corrosive. Carefully untie the plastic bag with one hand while holding it with the other hand, and empty the contents of the bag in a container.

  • Rinse off the showerhead

Turn on the water flow to rinse the non-removable showerhead, flushing out any residue.

  • Scrub the showerhead

You should keep scrubbing using an old toothbrush and rinsing till you are satisfied that all the residue is gone. Focus your attention on the base, where the mineral build-up is more prevalent.

  • Polish it

Using a microfiber cloth or flannel, gently wipe the base of the showerhead and see if any white residue is left, you may repeat the above process if you are not satisfied with the look.

How to unclog your showerhead?

Here is an alternative way of unclogging your showerhead using baking soda and vinegar. Follow these steps;

Things You’ll Need

  • Plastic bag
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Strings or rubber bands
  • Old toothbrush

Steps

  • Pre-mix one cup of vinegar and 1/3 cup of baking soda in the plastic bag. This mixture will react and produce bubbles in the process. This reaction aims to produce carbonic acid when vinegar reacts with sodium bicarbonate. Carbonic acid works well when cleaning the white mineral deposits.
  • Wrap the bag around the showerhead and secure it with the rubber bands. Make sure the head is completely submerged in the carbonic acid solution
  • Let it soak overnight for the acid to dissolve the mineral deposit build-up
  • Rinse it off before scrubbing the showerhead with an old toothbrush, focusing your attention on the base.
  • Turn on the water flow to flush out any residue you might have missed in the showerhead holes.

Dry with a soft cloth and you are done.

How to clean showerhead with CLR?

CLR stands for Calcium, Lime and Rust Remover, which is great at removing calcium and lime deposits in your showerhead. It dissolves all the mineral deposits in about five minutes.

How to use CLR

  • You need to pre-mix the CLR and water on a 50-50 basis while wearing protective gear like eyewear and rubber gloves as this solution can be corrosive. The mixing room should also be well ventilated.
  • Use a cloth, sponge or brush when applying the solution on a clogged showerhead.
  • Leave it to soak for two minutes before rinsing the showerhead immediately with lots of water making sure that the entire residue is gone.
  • Wipe it off with a dry cloth

N/B CLR should never be mixed with other household cleaning agents like bleach.

How to mix CLR

The concentration of the mixture depends on the mineral deposit build-up size, for a small build-up, dilute one part CLR with 7-8 parts of warm water. For a tough mineral build-up, use a 50-50 measurement of CLR and warm water. For tough grime and build-up inside the showerhead holes, use full strength or undiluted CLR solution, but don’t leave it for more than two minutes in the showerhead. Make sure that you rinse it off with lots of water to flush out the resulting solution.

How to make a homemade CLR solution

We all know that times can be hard, and not everyone can afford the CLR solution. We stumbled upon this guide online on how to make a homemade CLR solution, and we thought it is best to share it with you.

Things You’ll Need

  • One teaspoon of baking soda
  • Dishwashing soap
  • Diluted orange vinegar
  • Mixing bowl
  • Lemon juice

Instructions

  • Add 4 tablespoons of undiluted orange vinegar into a mixing bowl
  • Pour in an equal amount of lemon juice into the mixture
  • Measure about 3-4 drops of dishwashing soap or maybe ¼ tablespoon. If you use too much soap, it would take more time rinsing or flushing your showerhead.
  • Add ¼ teaspoon of baking soda, at this point, the mixture starts foaming
  • Apply this mixture on the showerhead and leave it for a few minutes depending on the build-up
  • Scrub using the old toothbrush and rinse thoroughly using lots of water

How to clean showerhead with bleach?

Bleach is particularly effective in removing mold, mildew and some bacteria in plastic showerheads. That’s why most cleaning products incorporate bleach in their formulations, plus bleach brightens and whitens plastic showerheads. Here is how you should go about it;

  • You need a spray bottle for this process
  • Mix two parts of water with one part of bleach solution
  • Spray the solution on the showerhead and let it soak for 15-30 minutes
  • Scrub with an old toothbrush till all the mold, mildew and other residues come off
  • Rinse with lots of water to flush out any remaining residues

However, there are some concerns that chlorination doesn’t kill all the bacteria inside the showerhead; in fact, chlorination encourages regrowth of some bacteria like Mycobacterium spp according to scientists which is bad for people with weakened immune systems. In this case, it is best to avoid the first blast of water from the showerhead as it is believed to contain higher loads of Mycobacterium spp.

It is worth noting that most microbes attach easily to plastic than metal showerheads; in this case, it is best to opt for a showerhead replacement rather than cleaning your plastic showerhead using bleach.

How to clean a showerhead using citric acid?

One thing we like about citric acid is that it is readily available, cheap, can be used in low doses and lastly, citric acid is eco-friendly. Follow these steps when cleaning your showerhead with citric acid;

  • Fill a bucket with clean water
  • Use a ratio of 1-3 tablespoons of citric acid in a liter of water
  • Insert the removable showerhead in the bucket
  • Leave it for a few hours; the citric acid will dissolve the mineral deposits in your showerhead
  • Scrub with an old toothbrush till the residue comes off
  • Rinse with lots of water

Warning; Wear protective clothing like rubber gloves and eye protection as citric acid is corrosive.

Deep cleaning your showerhead

Researchers tested and found out that one-third of showerheads in the US contain bacteria that cause pulmonary diseases. Fortunately, you can deep clean your showerhead to rid them off these bacteria using the following steps;

    • Pre-mix one cup of vinegar with 3 cups of hot water in a large mixing bowl
    • Remove the showerhead and immerse it in the mixing bowl
    • Leave it for 30 minutes
    • Using an old toothbrush, scrub the showerhead inside out before rinsing it thoroughly
    • Wipe it dry with a dry cloth

10 Quick shower tips

  1. You should always shower and keep yourself clean, though showering is not required by law. Showering helps prevent sicknesses and skin conditions such as acne, and that’s why we came up with some quick shower tips below;
  2. You need to time yourself, set a timer and improve the time each week
  3. As you wait for the soap or shampoo to fully condition your hair, you may use that time to lather up with soap, brush your teeth or even shave your legs.
  4. When scrubbing your body, use soft brushes or sponges to prevent skin irritation
  5. Comb your hair and wash it with the conditioner still set in to prevent hair tangling
  6. Stick to the same washing motions and routines daily
  7. You may want to play some music when showering, as an energetic tempo gives you a faster showering rhythm
  8. Avoid using any liquid body wash especially on your private parts, consult the label
  9. Use cold water as it motivates you to finish showering faster when compared to warm water
  10. Lastly, if you have long hair, you may want to wrap it in a towel

Frequently Asked Questions

The water coming out from my showerhead contains black specks, what could be the problem?

This occurrence is common if you use municipal water or hard water to shower. The black specks coming out of your showerheads are as a result of an elevated concentration of iron and manganese. These minerals are naturally occurring and non-hazardous, and they dissolve in water when it passes through rocks. In high concentration, both manganese and iron form a black slimy film or sludge that forms on the sides of the drainage pipes and the showerhead. The good news, even at high concentrations, iron and manganese are not associated with any health risks except an unpleasant taste in your drinking water. Follow the steps above for deep cleaning your showerhead and drainage pipes.

How often should I clean my showerhead?

The general rule of thumb is that the harder the water, the more frequently you should clean it. Experts recommend cleaning your showerhead once every three months to get rid of the mineral deposits. Be sure to follow the steps above when cleaning your showerhead.

What is the best product for cleaning my showerheads? 

There are many choices, but we recommend the Caraselle Showerhead Cleaner Disinfectant and descaler. It is a 3 in 1 solution as it kills bacteria and fungi, plus it removes limestone and other mineral deposits build-ups. Furthermore, it is budget-friendly to most users. It leaves your showerhead looking sparkling clean with a powerful water stream.

Is the slimy film inside my showerhead dangerous to my health?

You need to remove the slimy film as soon as possible lest the bacteria growing in it becomes airborne since most of them reproduce by spores. The specific bacteria growing in the slimy film is Mycobacterium spp, which causes pulmonary infections in your body. The Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences conducted a study and discovered that most showerheads in residential areas had an abundant growth of Mycobacterium. You need to clean your showerheads with vinegar to mitigate this problem.

Final Verdict

The best homemade solution to clean your showerhead is vinegar; it is very effective when removing mineral deposits in your showerhead. Follow the above instructions when mixing the solution and cleaning your showerhead. Also, take precautions when handling some of these cleaning agents especially acids, as they corrode your skin and may irritate your eyes. We hope you found this article helpful when cleaning your showerhead. Visit our blog for more info articles.

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