How to Clean a Shower Head

Of course you use it to keep yourself clean, but your shower head needs to be cleaned periodically too.

Your shower head should be cleaned simply to keep it shiny and help it effectively clean your body, but also because over time shower heads can be clogged by hard water and mineral buildup, or any rust and debris that may be in the pipes of an old building.

A dirty shower head may even have harmful bacteria inside. A study by the University of Colorado at Boulder found harmful Mycobacterium avium inside an alarming 30% of the shower heads they tested.

Harmful bacteria inside a shower head may be harmful for people with allergies or sensitivities.

There are two primary reasons to clean your shower head:

  • To remove minerals and debris that may have built up at the nozzles, altering the flow, direction, or strength of your shower spray
  • To remove the biofilm of bacteria and mineral deposits that can build up inside the shower head, affecting the quality of your water

If you are noticing a decrease in water pressure or the quality of your showers, it may be time for a clean and polish of the exterior and nozzles of your shower head, to keep your shower looking good and working properly.

Furthermore, a couple times a year it might be best to remove your shower head so that it can be cleaned inside and out, removing bacteria and debris that may have accumulated inside.

How to Clean Your Shower Head Nozzles

To easily clean your shower head nozzles, removing mineral buildup and ensuring a smooth, high-pressure spray, follow these steps:

  1. 1Hang the shower head pointing directly downward.
  2. 2Take a plastic bag and fill it ¼ full of vinegar and ¼ full of distilled water, so that the bag is approximately half full.
  3. 3Place the shower head inside the plastic bag, so that the nozzles are completely immersed in the diluted vinegar solution.
  4. 4Use your hands to slosh the liquid around in the bag, agitating the vinegar against the nozzles.
  5. 5Allow the shower head to soak in the diluted vinegar for 10-15 minutes.
  6. 6Remove the bag from the shower head.
  7. 7If necessary, use a gentle scrub brush to remove the loosened deposits from the nozzles
  8. 8Rinse the shower head.Use a microfiber cloth to polish the exterior of the shower head to restore shine.

Your shower head should also be periodically cleaned inside and out, to remove any bacteria that has built up inside the shower head.

If there is severe debris or blockage, it may be necessary to remove the shower head from the water supply entirely, so that it can be cleaned inside and out.

How to Remove a Shower Head for Deep Cleaning and Disinfecting

To do a deep, thorough cleaning of your shower head, you will need:

  • A rag or cloth
  • A channel wrench
  • A scrub brush
  • Teflon tape
  • A bucket or washing tub
  • White vinegar
  • Dish soap
  • Very hot water

To remove your shower head for deep cleaning, follow these steps:

  • Turn off the water in the shower,  turning the knobs tightly to prevent drips and leaks.
  • Open the shower valve (if you have one) to allow any remaining water to drip out of the shower head.
  • Wrap your shower pipe in cloth and secure the pipe in place with a channel lock wrench. This will prevent it from turning when you unscrew the shower head.
  • In most cases, the old shower head will simply unscrew. You may need to use the wrench on the pipe for extra leverage. If the old shower head is difficult to unscrew, you may need to use lubricating spray or a pair of pliers to break the seal and remove it.
  • Once the old shower head is removed, use a brush to clean the threads of any old Teflon tape or sealants.

When you have removed the shower head, follow these steps:

  • Fill the tub or bucket about 2/3 full of white vinegar.
  • Add about a teaspoon of dish soap.
  • Fill rest of the tub or bucket with very hot, almost-boiling water.
  • Stir the solution together, then submerge the shower head in the bucket.
  • Allow it to soak for 30 minutes.
  • If necessary, use a gentle scrub brush to free any mineral deposits from the nozzles.
  • Rinse the shower head.
  • Dry and polish with a microfiber cloth.

To re-attach your shower head after cleaning, re-wrap the pipe threads with Teflon tape to ensure a good seal.

Teflon tape also makes the shower head easier to remove, as well as reducing leaks, so it’s ideal for shower heads and other connections that need to be removed periodically. 

Screw the shower head back in place, using the channel wrench to stabilize the pipe and add leverage if necessary. Hand-tighten the shower head securely, then turn the shower on and check for leaks.

If it leaks, use the wrench to tighten another quarter turn, and then check for leaks again. If necessary, keep quarter-turning with the wrench until there are no more leaks.


Regular cleaning, inside and out, keeps your shower head providing satisfying showers, with good pressure and well-directed spray. It also helps the shower and bathroom look clean, shiny, and newer for longer.

Finally, it also improves the quality of the water in every shower, keeping your showers truly clean and healthy for everyone.

Using the natural power of vinegar to clean, disinfect, and dissolve mineral deposits is better for your shower, and better for the environment. 

Using vinegar, you can clean a shower head with no scrubbing and enjoy clean, healthy showers for years to come.

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