How to Clean a Shower Head 

September 25, 2018

How to Clean a Shower Head 

 

A warm, refreshing shower to start your day may be the perfect wake up call to boost your mood and help keep you energized until you can fill up with your morning latte or peppermint tea. Or if showering before bed is more your thing, it can be the perfect luxurious experience to help you relax for a much needed good night’s sleep. But you may have noticed your shower head start to look dingy or maybe it has started losing some of its spraying power.  You may also feel random jets shooting off in one direction or another.  Even without hard water, mineral deposits build up on the showerhead over time.  This build-up is called lime scale and looks like a hard, chalky substance.   

 

Lime scale can make your shower look dirty and block jet openings on the various showerheads, preventing the desired spray amount, making it difficult to maximize your showering experience.  Not to mention the bacteria associated with pulmonary disease that could be settling in there. You want a clean shower, but it’s important to use the right method and products. Using toxic or harsh chemicals can do more than just damage your showerhead.  Coming in contact with common household cleaners that are considered to be toxic can damage your skin or eyes, even lungs when sprayed in the air.  Some harsh chemicals can also cause an allergic reaction.  

 

Cleaning your showerhead can be simple and easy using the right tools and tricks, and keeping the showerhead clean will allow water to flow freely and enhance your revitalizing experience.  There are several different types of showerheads, and techniques to clean and maintain them may vary. So let’s break them down to determine the right method for your shower: 

Different Types of Shower Heads: 

 

1. Single Spray (The most common)

 

This type of shower head executes a single spray pattern of reasonable pressure.  Its simple design makes it suitable for just about any user and can range in size from small to medium; It may also be a high pressure shower head model. 

 

A single spray can also be attached to a sliding bar making it possible to move the shower head up and down depending on the height of the person using it. 

 

2.Rain Shower Heads

 

The rain shower system style has become more popular in recent years.  It provides a steady flow from directly above you as opposed to at an angle, like the single spray.  

 

Your shower will need an extended shower head for this particular system, so you can stand directly underneath it without having to move around to ensure your whole body is exposed to the steady, relaxing stream of water.  This is one of the deluxe features that will really maximize your shower experience. 

 

3.Handheld Shower Heads 

 

If you hate moving around in the shower to rinse all the soap off your body, a handheld shower head makes it much easier.  While you stay in one spot, move the handheld shower head around.  This is especially useful when bathing a rambunctious puppy or toddler. 

 

4.Body Spray or Shower Panel

 

Considered one of the most luxurious shower heads, they are usually installed if you’re looking for a way to pamper yourself in the comforts of your own home.  A feature added after a complete bathroom remodel or by a custom builder, they are fitted from the top to the bottom of the shower.  They can also run parallel to the shower walls giving your body a massaging, spa-like experience.   

 

5.Ceiling Mount Shower Head

 

A trendy, sleek looking way to spoil yourself in the bathroom; It’s installed directly in to the ceiling to provide a consistent flow of water from overhead, similar to a rain showerhead.  This shower mount requires special plumbing, but the modern design is well worth the trouble for this revitalizing shower experience. 

Now that you know which type of showerhead you’re working with, let’s talk about cleaning! 

 The Easy Method 

Removing the shower head parts is definitely the easiest and most effective way to clean them, but it doesn’t work for every type. If you have a single spray, rain showerhead or hand held system, this may be the option for you.   

If your showerhead has a chrome or stainless steel finish, follow these simple steps: 

What you need: 

-Distilled white vinegar 

-Bucket or other large container for soaking 

-Cleaning rags 

-Old toothbrush 

-Paperclip 

-Pliers or wrench 

 

Step 1: Remove the shower head from the shower arm and place in the bucket or other large container (must be deep enough for the head to be covered in cleaning solution).  Place a rag over the nut that connects the shower head to the shower arm, this will prevent the pliers or wrench from scratching the chrome or shower head finish.  Use locking pliers or wrench to loosen the nut. 

Step 2: Heat 2-3 cups of white vinegar in the microwave until it’s warm. 

 Step 3: Pour the warm vinegar over the shower head. Make sure the vinegar covers     the shower head completely and allow it to load for about 30 minutes in the bucket or soaking  container. 

 Step 4: Remove the shower head from liquid solution and wipe off excess with a dry rag.  Mineral deposits should wipe off easily.  If you’re still having trouble removing the deposits, try soaking the shower head for another 30 minutes.  For extra stubborn build-up or stains, use an old toothbrush to scrub them gently.  To clear out individual holes, a paper clip can be used for little jets in the shower head. 

Step 5: Remove any old thread seal tape known as polytetrafluoroethylene or PTFE, commonly used in plumbing to seal piping threads.  Apply new tape and reattach the shower head, this will ensure it has a good seal and no leaks.   

 

But be careful of the following finishes: oil rubbed bronze, brushed nickel or antique copper.  These finishes can be more sensitive, so we recommend using a cotton swab to test a small area for up to 30 minutes prior to using this method over your whole shower head.  If there is no sign where the vinegar was applied, continue with steps 1 through 5 for the easiest cleaning method. 

 

Slightly More Difficult Method

If you’re having trouble removing the showerhead or just don’t feel up to the task, you can still clean it effectively and remove mineral build-up while it is still attached to the shower arm.  Keep in mind this method may take longer because you don’t warm up the vinegar prior to application. 

What you need: 

-Distilled white vinegar 

-Plastic baggies 

-Tape or a rubber band 

-Old toothbrush 

-Paperclip 

Step 1: Pour 1-2 cups of distilled white vinegar into a plastic baggie. 

Step 2: Cover your shower head with the baggie containing the vinegar solution.  

Step 3: Using some tape or a rubber band, secure the baggie in place around the shower head, but make sure if you’re using tape that it is only touching the plastic baggie. It can be difficult to remove tape from the metal surface and can potentially damage the finish of your shower head or arm.   

 Step 4: Allow the shower head to soak in vinegar for a few hours.  This process may be best done in the evening, so the shower head can soak over-night.  

 Step 5: Carefully remove the baggie and wipe excess vinegar from the shower head with a cleaning rag.  If it is still dirty or has difficult to remove build-up, try scrubbing it with an old toothbrush and using a paperclip to remove debris from individual jets.  If it continues to have stubborn stains, try repeating this process until it is cleaned to your satisfaction. 

 Using the baggie method may be a good alternative if you notice a reaction to your oil rubbed bronze, brushed nickel or antique copper shower head finish. 

 *Be sure to run the shower for a few minutes prior to getting in to remove any excess vinegar residue that may still be present. 

Overhead or Body Spray/Panel Method

With an overhead shower, the technique is a little different.  The shower head isn’t as easy to remove and may even be installed into the ceiling.  For a ceiling mount of body spray/panel showerhead, regular maintenance will be key to keep shower fixtures looking shiny and clean.  If you start to notice build-up, try to tackle it right away.  (If your shower head is a finish other than stainless steel or chrome, substitute baking soda for distilled white vinegar and create a paste like formula.) 

 

 

 

 

What you need:  

-Distilled white vinegar 

-Clean paintbrush 

-Dry rag 

-Old toothbrush 

-Paperclip 

 

Step 1: Mix up a bowl warm vinegar and water using 1-part water to 1-part vinegar. 

 Step 2: Using the paintbrush, dip it in the vinegar solution until soaked. Apply a generous amount to the shower head surface, repeating the motion several times.  

 Step 3:  Allow formula to soak for a few hours before wiping clean with a dry rag.   

 Step 4:  For any extra stubborn places with excessive build-up, use an old toothbrush soaked in the vinegar (or baking soda) solution to scrub it clean. You can also use a paperclip to clean out individual little jet holes that can become clogged with limescale. 

 

Monthly Maintenance

If you’re looking for a way to keep your shower head clean on an ongoing basis, fill a spray bottle with water and vinegar.  Spray the solution on to the shower head at least once a week to help dislodge any residue that may be starting to form.  Run the shower to rinse the spray off the shower faucet parts before using.   

 More thorough cleaning should be performed every season to avoid stubborn build-up from forming and causing irreversible damage that may require you to replace your shower head. 

 Intense Deep Clean Method

If you’ve tried the prior treatments and you’re just not seeing the results you want and are hoping to get that brand new bathroom shine, try this more intense method. But be sure to take proper safety precautions! It’s only recommended for chrome or stainless steel finishes.  Apply cleanser to showerhead only, when possible and do not leave cleaner on for too long or it can damage some finishes. 

 

What you need: 

-Oven cleaner 

-Gloves 

-Mask (optional) 

 

Step 1: Put on gloves and mask prior to oven cleaner application.  It’s heavily scented and can be harsh to your skin. 

 Step 2: Spray the oven cleaner directly on to the shower head thoroughly. 

 Step 3: Let cleaner soak for 20 minutes before rinsing the shower head clean. 

 

Another common shower surface that can be difficult to clean is glass shower walls and doors. Using simple tricks will help make your bathroom sparkle. 

 

A glass shower door can add a simple, modern elegance to any bathroom.  Consistent exposure to moisture and water can cause it to develop unsightly grime making it look foggy even when it’s not being used.  To get your glass shining, try these strategies: 

 

Who knew such a simple, household ingredient could be so powerful?  Combine equal parts distilled vinegar (warmed up) and a powerful grease cutting dish soap in a bowl.  Scrub this cleanser on to your glass shower door using a non-scratch sponge.  

 (If your shower is made of stone, be careful; The vinegar could damage it.  Try using liquid soap with baking soda mixed together to form a frosting like substance and apply to the glass shower door for similar results.) 

 Since shower glass doors are best to clean when you’re just finishing up your shower, use a wet sponge or foam cleaning pad like the Magic Eraser.  This way, you can spend an extra few minutes in the shower and be ‘cleaning it’ at the same time. 

 

 Another effective household ingredient is the lemon.  Cut a lemon in half, dipping one half of it in baking soda.  Rub the lemon covered in baking soda on both sides of the glass shower door.  Allowing the acid in the lemon to react with the baking soda creates foamy suds.  Once the glass is scrubbed clean, you can apply a small amount of lemon oil on the glass, as well.  This will help to repel the water and prevent soap scum and buildup over time. Plus, the smell of lemon is much more pleasant than bleach or vinegar. 

 More prime targets for mold and soap scum?  The edges of the shower door. Grab and old toothbrush and scrub the metal frame around the shower door.  Especially stubborn build-up can be removed with a paint scraper or razor when applied to mineral spots on flat glass.  Hold the blade at a 45-degree angle to avoid scratching the glass. 

 Want to prevent the build-up before it starts? Squeegee the glass after each use.  Squeegees can be conveniently stored in the shower to help remind you before you exit to make a quick wipe down.  Leaving the shower door open afterward will also help to dry it out.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another little trick to keep your shower sparkling clean is mixing up a little

shower spray to use in between deep cleans.  Mix 1 cup of water, 1/2 cup vinegar,

a little dish soap and 10 drops of your favorite essential oil (oil optional).

Keep it in the shower and spray the glass door after being squeegeed.

(Don’t forget to leave out the vinegar if you have a stone tile shower). 

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