How to Clean a Dirty Showerhead Simply and Easily

If your showerhead is spraying unevenly and looking pretty grungy, there are some simple things you can do to unclog the spraying holes and clean away hard water deposits. A clean shower head will result in improved water flow and lessen the chance of grunge getting on your skin and in your hair.



There are many types of showerheads from basic chrome to designer styles that mimic falling rain, but the cleaning and unclogging methods are all pretty much the same.


Anti-Limestone Showerheads

Some showerheads have pliable rubber nubs on the front that are designed to break up mineral deposits. If your showerhead has these nubs, run your fingers over them to loosen up any gritty deposits. You can also scrub them lightly with a toothbrush soaked in vinegar. This may be all it takes to get your water spraying normally again.



Tool-Free Cleaning Method

If you are hesitant to remove your showerhead, or it simply won’t come off, you can still clean it with some basic household items.


You’ll need:

1. A plastic bag large enough to cover the showerhead

2. White, distilled vinegar

3. Rubber bands, bag ties, zip ties, or tape



Slide the rubber band or whatever fastener you're using over the top of the showerhead. Half fill the plastic bag with white, distilled vinegar. Place the vinegar-filled bag over the showerhead and attach it with the rubber band or tape so the showerhead is fully submerged in vinegar. Wait several hours or let it sit overnight.



If your showerhead has a brass or gold finish, don’t soak for more than 30 minutes at a time. After 30 minutes, remove the bag and then rinse the showerhead with clean water. If you can still see some mineral deposits, put the bag back on for another 30 minutes. Check again and repeat the process again if necessary.



Vinegar can be used to clean a handheld showerhead, but instead of a plastic bag, simply immerse the showerhead in a container filled with vinegar.


Remove the vinegar-filled bag and examine the showerhead. It should be sparkling clean.



Run the shower to remove vinegar from the holes. If there is still a little bit of hard water mineral debris in the holes, use a toothbrush or toothpick to clean out the holes. Depending on how bad your showerhead was, it may not look brand new, but it should look much better.



If letting the showerhead soak overnight, be sure to leave a reminder in the shower so the first person to take a shower in the morning doesn’t get sprayed with an exploding bag of cold vinegar.


Tools Method

If the vinegar method failed to achieve the desired results, remove the showerhead to give it a more thorough cleaning.


You'll need a few tools:

1. Pipe wrench or adjustable wrench

2. Teflon or plumbers tape

3. Old towel or thick rag



Remove the Showerhead

Place an old towel or a thick rag around the top of the showerhead and use a pipe wrench or adjustable wrench to gently unscrew it from the shower arm coming out of the wall. Be careful not to scratch the finish with the wrench.



Run water through the showerhead from the front to the back to loosen up any debris. Scrub the front of the showerhead with a toothbrush and vinegar to remove any stubborn mineral deposits. Use a toothpick or safety pin to poke out any clogged holes.



If the showerhead has a filter, remove the filter and wash or spray it clean. Be sure to reinstall any rubber washers removed. Place the showerhead in vinegar and let it sit overnight.



Reinstall the Showerhead

Now that your showerhead is clean or cleaner, you can reinstall it. Remove the old plumber’s tape from the threads of the shower arm. Wrap new tape counterclockwise around the threads to ensure the showerhead won’t leak. Place a towel or rag around the showerhead to avoid scratching the finish.



Screw the showerhead on and tighten it firmly with the appropriate wrench. Turn on the shower and check for drips at the connection point. You should be good to go.



Unless your showerhead is beyond cleaning, you should be able to restore it to like-new condition. Removing mineral buildup will improve the flow through the showerhead and ensure you're showering with clean water. The shower can be one of the few places in our homes where we have a few minutes of privacy. Enjoy the full force of your next shower and the lack of gunky, mineral buildup on your skin.



Images used with permission, courtesy of Teri Olcott and

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