Written by Grove Collaborative

Clean team: How to clean a shower head.

Last Updated: October 16, 2020


Give your shower a deep clean with our easy tips on how to clean a shower head, an oft overlooked part of bathroom cleaning.

Ready to tackle the dirtiest spots in your home? Grove Collaborative has you covered with Clean Team. Each week, we’ll do a deep dive into how to clean a different place or item in your home. No spot is too small — and we’ll tell you how to conquer them all, naturally.

Cleaning a shower head is one of those things you know probably should be done once in a while, but you probably have no clue how to go about it. Doesn’t it just come clean when the water pours out? Well, not quite, so we’ll break it down for you. Keep reading, friends!




Why do you need to clean a shower head?

The main reason you take a shower is to get clean. However, if your shower head is full of gunk, bacteria — especially mycobacterium known to cause lung disease — and other germs that thrive in wet areas, then you might be missing the whole point of showering! This means that you need to clean your shower head regularly, because the aerosol spray of water makes it easy for bacteria to travel to your body.



Another reason to clean a shower head is to make sure it’s performing at maximum capacity. If there are mineral or dirt particles built up, it can clog the holes in the shower head and affect the flow and pressure of the water. No one likes a shower with low pressure!

How often should you clean a shower head?

The key to preventing buildup in the shower head is to clean it regularly every week. You can give the shower head a deeper cleanse every two to three months. A thorough cleanse includes removing it, cleaning and descaling it, and disinfecting it before reattaching it.

Things you’ll need to clean a shower head

How to clean a shower head: Step-by-step instructions

Cleaning a shower head is really pretty easy. Just follow these simple steps and it’ll be shiny and sparkling in no time.

Method 1: How to clean a shower head without removing it

Step 1: Bag it

For regular cleaning, fill a plastic bag with vinegar. Hang this bag around the shower head so that the head is completely submerged in the vinegar. Fasten the bag with zip-ties, cords, or a rubber band.

Step 2: Wait

Give the vinegar anywhere between an hour and overnight to do its job. Once you are sure that it has cleaned the shower head, remove the bag.

Step 3: Rinse and polish

Run the shower to flush out any vinegar that has gone inside the holes in the shower head, as you don’t want to be sprayed with vinegar first thing in the morning. Use a soft cloth to polish the shower head and make it look almost as good as new!




Method 2: How to remove and clean a shower head

Step 1: Remove the shower head

Most manufacturers advise to use a wrench instead of pliers to detach the shower head. This ensures that it doesn’t damage the finish.

Step 2: Rinse it

To loosen the debris on the inside of the shower head, run a faucet while holding it upside down. You can also use a toothbrush and vinegar or a paste of baking soda with water to clean away the mineral deposits.

Step 3: Clean out the holes

Use a toothbrush to descale the outside part of the shower head. The thin bristles of the toothbrush will also get into the holes to help unclog them. If they are still blocked, use a toothpick, safety pin, or needle to poke them and loosen the debris stuck inside.

Step 4: Soak in vinegar

Submerge the shower head in vinegar for some time to dissolve any leftover mineral deposit and dirt. For an extra kick, add some baking soda to the vinegar.

Step 5: Rinse, polish, assemble

Once you are sure the shower head is completely clean and unblocked, rinse it thoroughly with water to wash out all the cleaning agents. Polish with a soft cloth and attach it back to its original place.

How to you clean a shower head with …

Bleach

Although bleach can be used to clean your shower head, there are healthier, non-toxic methods you can use, such as cleaning with vinegar or baking soda, but if cleaning with bleach is still your preferred method, follow these simple steps to get the job done.

  1. Keep your bathroom door open and open the bathroom window (if you have one) to make sure the bleach smell doesn’t disturb you too much while you’re cleaning.
  2. Get all of your personal care products out of your shower, so none of them are affected by the bleach while you’re cleaning
  3. Grab your go-to spray bottle, and mix up equal parts bleach and water. (You’re going to want this spray bottle to be your designated bleach bottle after you do this.)
  4. Get ready to clean — you can put on gloves for protection if you wish — and start spraying your shower head, paying close attention to areas with grout stains
  5. Give your bleach-and-water mix about five minutes to soak — go ahead and leave the bathroom for this part so you can take a breather
  6. Rinse your shower head, and, voila, you’re done.


Vinegar

There are two different ways to clean your shower head with vinegar, depending on whether or not you’re able to remove your shower head. Keep reading for a step-by-step guide that’s just right for your shower’s situation.

How to clean a shower head with vinegar when you can’t remove your shower head:

  1. Get a plastic bag and fill it with white vinegar
  2. Wrap the bag around your shower head, and use a rubber band to hold your bag in place
  3. Take a break — seriously though, let the bag hang on your shower head for a few hours. (This gives you time to catch up on other chores or your Netflix queue.)
  4. Come back to your shower head, and remove the vinegar-filled bag.
  5. Rinse your shower head, making sure all the vinegar is washed away, along with the grit and grime, of course

How to clean a shower head with vinegar when you can remove your shower head:

  1. Fill a small bucket with white vinegar, and carefully take off your shower head
  2. Drop your shower head in the bucket, making sure it’s fully immersed in the vinegar
  3. Take a break for a few hours to let the vinegar use its natural cleaning magic
  4. Reattach your shower head to your shower, and run the water for a couple of minutes. This will get the vinegar out of your shower head, and make sure it’s ready to go come your next shower session.



Baking soda

Cleaning your shower head with baking soda goes a bit faster than cleaning it with vinegar. For this method, it’s as easy as 1, 2, 3. Just follow our lead:

  1. Mix your baking soda with a little bit of water. What this does is form a thick paste for you to use.
  2. Spread this baking-soda paste around your shower head and let it sit there for about 30 minutes
  3. Come back and rinse the baking soda off your shower head for a shower that’s sparkling

Grove Tip

Overnight cleaning hack

To prevent buildup, bag your shower head overnight in a cleaning solution. By the time you wake up, your shower head will be as good as new, without any sweat on your part!

How to clean a shower head: Tips & tricks

How do you remove limescale from a shower head/descale a shower head?

Have we mentioned how versatile vinegar is? One of the reasons we love it is because it can also remove limescale. When you add a bit of baking soda, you can really ramp up it’s cleaning power!

What is the black stuff on my shower head?

Most likely you’re seeing oxidized manganese. It’s a trace mineral often found in drinking water, including the water flowing from your shower head. Follow the steps above for descaling a shower head to remove it.

How do you clean a clogged shower head?

If you find yourself with the annoyance of a clogged shower head, fear not, it’s easier to fix than it may seem. We recommend using the vinegar method for cleaning out a clogged shower head. You can pop your shower head off and submerge it in distilled white vinegar. If your shower head doesn’t come off effortlessly, then fill a plastic bag with the vinegar and use a rubber band to secure it onto your shower head. Then, wait about two hours, letting the vinegar really soak. (If you have a shower head that’s brass or gold finish, it’s very important to only soak your shower head in the vinegar for 30 minutes so that it doesn’t tarnish it.) After soaking, if you still notice some dirt and grime, just grab an old toothbrush and scrape the scum off of your shower head. If your shower head is still attached to your shower, just run the water for a few minutes to rinse. If you need to put your shower head back on your shower, do that, and then run the water to rinse.

How do you clean the shower head's rubber nozzles?

When it comes to cleaning your shower head’s rubber nozzles, use a toothbrush or a soft-bristled brush. If you can clearly see there is buildup or grime, just scrub lightly to loosen the dirt deposits, and then rinse for a good clean — that should do the trick.

Grove Tip

Try some soda

If you didn’t already know, cola is very strong and has been used as a cleaning agent for a long time. That means it’s possible to use it to clean a shower head. Dunk the head in cola and let it eat away the buildup. Just be sure to wash it off thoroughly.

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Looking for more cleaning how-tos and other sustainable swaps you can make at home? Grove has you covered with our buying and cleaning guides. And let us know how if you have any cleaning questions (or share your own tips using #grovehome) by following Grove Collaborative on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

If you're ready to take on germs, shop Grove Collaborative's cleaning essentials for the cleaning tools to tackle the job.

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