How to Clean a Showerhead

published Mar 6, 2021
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Pretty, clean shower featuring showerhead

As the old proverb goes, the longer you wait to do something, the more work it will be later on. Nowhere does this rule of thumb apply more tangibly than cleaning. Days pass, messes get messier, and soon, something that could have been a quick, 10-minute maintenance job is now a whole deep-cleaning ordeal

Dirty dishes and loads of laundry can only go so long before they start to interfere with your functionality. It’s the hidden messes, accumulating in crevices and corners, that are the easiest to neglect — and that’s especially true if you tell yourself you don’t know how to clean it. 

Take your showerhead, for example. According to Irina Nikiforova, owner of the LA-based cleaning company Rocket Maids, many people delay cleaning them because they just don’t realize how easy it is — and then, over time, the showerheads become clogged with deposits, making it harder to clean.

To prevent an ordeal future you has to deal with, Nikiforova suggests cleaning your showerhead once a season — no more than every six months. How often you do it really depends on how hard the water is, since hard water more easily results in mineral buildup. “In Los Angeles, for example, we have very hard water and basic showerheads become clogged in a few months,” she says.

Read more: How to Know If You Have Hard Water (and What That Even Means)

Curious how easy it is? Here’s how to clean a showerhead, one step at a time. 

How to Clean a Showerhead

For a regular, once-a-week type clean, Nikiforova suggests simply wiping down the entire showerhead with your favorite all-purpose cleaner. Or, you can use your all-purpose cleaner followed by a stainless steel polish spray for extra shine.

Every few months, though, you’ll need to do a more thorough clean to remove mineral deposits and stave off germs from the head. Luckily, you probably have all you need to get the job done in your pantry: a plastic bag, a rubber band, and a few cups of white vinegar.

If you have a regular, smaller, shower head, then Nikiforova recommends simply filling a durable plastic bag (like a freezer or gallon Ziploc) with white vinegar and attaching it to the shower head with a rubber band. Then, leave it overnight and wipe off the shower head in the morning. (Tip: Use the same vinegar-and-baggie method for any faucet in your home!)

For a larger, rainfall-style showerhead, detach and place the head in a bag filled with vinegar, leaving it overnight. Rinse in the morning with tap water, and re-attach the head.

According to Nikiforova, vinegar has descaling superpowers (translation: It easily removes mineral buildup from your water). But be very cautious if you have marble bathroom tile or a natural-stone shower — even just a few drops of vinegar can damage it.

Can you use bleach to clean a showerhead?

Nikiforova doesn’t recommend it. “I’ve never heard from a professional cleaner that bleach is a good cleaning solution to use on a shower head,” she says. “If you want to remove limescale, bleach simply won’t work since it’s an alkaline and you would need something acidic like vinegar to dissolve it.”

What is the black stuff coming out of my showerhead?

Don’t freak out; it’s probably not mold. According to Nikiforova, the black stuff is probably oxidized manganese, an element present in most water that tarnishes when exposed to air. “Regular tap water can contain this mineral and faucets, toilets or showerheads might accumulate some deposits,” says Nikiforova. 

The vinegar method works great for all types of showerhead cleaning, but she suggests scrubbing shower head nozzles with an old toothbrush when you’re done with soaking it overnight. This will help with detailed cleaning of the shower head, and you can be sure that nozzles aren’t covered in bacteria, too.