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Bathroom, General Expertise, Home Maintenance

How To Clean A Shower Head

By on Jan 11, 2016
How To Clean A Shower Head

Despite being the room that we cleanse ourselves, the bathroom tends to be one of the dirtiest areas of the home. Unfortunately, much of that buildup tends to accumulate in the shower and around the shower head.

Fortunately, learning how to clean a shower head is not difficult as there is one universal tactic almost every expert and homeowner utilizes. See how a simple vinegar and plastic bag combination can clean your shower head and bring you back to the glorious shower routine you deserve.

Why You Should Clean Shower Your Head

Like almost everything else in the home, your shower head will show some wear and tear over the years. As such, you must clean and maintain it to keep it in pristine condition.

The enemy with faulty and dirty shower heads are mineral deposits. Chances are, once you see your nozzles squirting water in different directions, mineral deposits are present. Likewise, if you see one or two nozzles not shooting out water, mineral deposits are the likely cause. Either scenario makes for a very uncomfortable and frustrating shower experience.

How To Clean Your Shower Head

As I have already iterated, the star in cleaning any shower head is vinegar. Vinegar has proved to be able to get inside those small crevices and remove the annoying mineral deposits. The acids in the vinegar will help dissolve the white deposits. However, ensuring the vinegar actually gets inside depends on your shower head and method of choice.

While all shower heads do come off the wall or pipe, some are more difficult to remove than others. As such, many homeowners opt to keep the shower head on the wall and attach a plastic bag full of vinegar over the shower head. Others remove the shower head and fully submerge it in a bowl of vinegar. Just know that it’s much easier to remove older shower heads than newer versions.

The Plastic Bag Method

Since most homeowners go with the plastic bag method (the preferred choice for chrome and stainless steel), I will address that approach first.

Materials Needed

  • Plastic bag
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Piece of string or a strong rubber band
  • Old toothbrush
  • Towels

Step 1: Fill the Plastic Bag with Vinegar

You can not fill the bag once it has been tied onto your shower head so you must fill beforehand. Only fill the bag 80% of the way. If you completely fill it, much of the vinegar will pour out once you attach to the pipe.

Step 2: Attach the Bag to Pipe

Hold the bag over the shower head. Then, pull the bag up so the shower head is fully submerged into the vinegar. Hold the bag tightly around the pipe and then use your string or rubber band to connect it. It should not be so tight that the string or rubber band will break. Gently release the bag and make sure it does not fall off. After releasing, the shower head should still be totally submerged in the vinegar.

Clean Shower

Step 3: Set It & Forget It

You should let the shower head soak for at least 30 minutes in the vinegar, but most pros recommend at least a few hours. However, if your shower head is made of brass, gold or nickel, take it off after 30 minutes if you want to keep that pristine appearance. For steel, feel free to keep it on overnight.

Step 4: Clear the Final Debris

Carefully untie the bag and release all the vinegar into the shower. Make sure you do not get any in your eyes. It will sting. Then, run the water of your shower for five minutes to remove all mineral deposits.

Now, take your old toothbrush from before and scrub the nozzle and front of the shower head. Keep running the water in between scrubs. While all mineral deposits may be gone by now, a toothbrush cleaning after a vinegar bath will certainly give the front a clean look we all appreciate.

Finally, wipe down your shower head with a soft towel until it is fully dried.

Shower Head With Hose

Removing Shower Head Method

As you can imagine, the second method is much like the first with one big distinction. Instead of placing a plastic bag over the attached shower head, you have to remove the shower head all together and submerge it in a bowl of vinegar.

Materials Needed

  • Large bowl
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Wrench
  • Old toothbrush
  • Towels

Step 1: Remove the Shower Head

If you are lucky enough, you can remove the shower head by gently turning it counterclockwise. If it’s giving you trouble, try wrapping it with an old rag around the nut and turning again. If you are still having trouble, leave the rag there and turn it with a wrench. The rag will protect your fixture from any wear.

Step 2: Submerge the Shower Head in Vinegar

Place your shower head in the big bowl. Pour enough vinegar into the bowl so the entire shower head is covered.

Step 3: Set It & Forget It

You should let the shower head soak for at least 30 minutes in the vinegar, but most pros recommend at least a few hours.

Step 4: Rinse & Scrub

Run the shower head under water, rinsing off any extra deposits. As the water is running, scrub all nozzles and the front with an old toothbrush. You should see mineral deposits fall off.

Step 5: Dry and Reattach

Dry your shower head with a clean towel. Once no water is present on the shower head, reattach it to your shower.


We use the shower to clean ourselves, but how can we expect it to do that if do not keep the actual shower head sanitary. Fortunately, for less than $10 and a few minutes of your time, you can have a clean and immaculate shower head working like new again.

For an even cleaner shower, please see DIY Tips for Cleaning Your Shower Drains.

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