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Woman thinking about how to clean a calcified shower head.

How to Clean a Shower Head

If your daily shower has become more like a daily trickle, or your shower head is shooting water in all directions instead of providing a nice, steady flow, there’s a good chance that it needs to be cleaned. It’s a straightforward task that doesn’t require a lot of tools or expertise, so if you’re ready, let’s dive right in. 

What’s Lurking in Your Shower Head? 

If the flow of water coming from your shower head is erratic or much weaker than it should be, it’s likely that there is some sort of debris in there that’s clogging it. Shower head debris can also harbour some nasty microorganisms that can cause health problems. What’s lurking in your shower head? It can be any of the following: 

  • Dirt and debris 

  • Rust 

  • Mineral buildup, including lime or calcium deposits 

  • Bacteria and fungi that can cause earaches, eye problems, rashes, and even digestive problems 

It’s a good idea to clean shower heads a couple times per year to keep your shower working better. 

First, Learn How to Remove a Shower Head 

The first step for how to clean a shower head is to remove it for easier access. Shower fixtures are made up of two basic parts: the pipe coming out of your wall, and the shower head itself. There may be a flexible hose connecting the pipe and the shower head. Simply unscrew the shower head from the hose or pipe. You'll want to hold the top part of the shower head to unscrew it; the rest of the shower head is sometimes designed to turn or swivel.  

If it's stuck or hard to unfasten, you might need to use a wrench. If this is the case, wrap a washcloth or other cloth around the area first so you don't scratch or mar the finish with whatever tool you're using. 

Related Topic: How to Increase Water Pressure in the Shower 

10 Steps to Clean the Shower Head 

Now you're ready to clean the shower head. This will take less than 15 minutes. 

  1. There may be a screen and gasket at the joint area of the shower head. Remove those and set them aside. 

  1. If you have a flow restrictor in your shower head, you can remove that by gently pulling it out with a pair of needle nose pliers. If it won't come out easily or you don't feel comfortable taking it out, you can leave it where it is. 

  1. Depending on whether you're using a cleaning product or vinegar, you'll need to add water to it to make a solution. Read the instructions on the package for calcium remover to see how much water to add to it (if any.) For the vinegar, make a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and warm water. 

  1. Place your shower head and any other pieces of it into the plastic container and pour enough of the solution over it to cover it. 

  1. Let it sit. If you're using calcium, lime, and rust remover, you'll only need to leave it for about two minutes (though you should double check the package for specific instructions.) If you're using vinegar, let it sit for about 10 minutes. 

  1. Take the shower head and pieces out of the container and rinse them well with clean, cold water. 

  1. Use a scrub brush or an old toothbrush to gently clean the screen, gasket, and flow reducer. Rinse them again and set them aside. 

  1. Tap the shower head itself onto a towel so that the part that connects to the pipe is facing down. Tap it a few times, and you might see debris fall onto the towel now that it's loose after soaking in the cleaning solution. 

  1. Rinse the shower head again and clean the outside of it. 

  1. Reassemble and re-install the shower head, then test it out. The water pressure and spray pattern should be much better now that it's clean. 

Shower Still Letting You Down? Let’s Upgrade It 

If cleaning the shower head doesn't give you the results you were hoping for, it might be time for a pressure tank inspection or other plumbing upgrades. If that's the case, reach out to your local Mr. Rooter Plumbing for help. Give us a call at (855) 591-0128 or request a job estimate online