How to Clean Your Shower Head – More Water Pressure

Low water pressure in the shower is often caused by a clogged shower head. This is mostly due to debris and minerals deposits especially calcium blocking the fine nozzles of the shower head.

To clean a shower head, disconnect it from the shower arm and immerse it in a bowl full off equal parts water and vinegar for 30 minutes. Scrub the shower head with a brush in the bathroom sink, and poke each nozzle with a toothpick.


Here is a brief summary of the easiest way to clean a shower head:

  • Gather Materials: You’ll need white vinegar, a plastic bag or a container, a rubber band or twist tie, and an old toothbrush.
  • Prepare the Vinegar Solution: Fill a plastic bag or container with white vinegar. If using a bag, make sure it’s large enough to fully submerge the shower head.
  • Remove the Shower Head (Optional): If the shower head is easily detachable, you can remove it for a more thorough cleaning. Use pliers or an adjustable wrench to loosen and detach the shower head from the pipe. Be gentle to avoid damaging the connections.
  • Submerge or Secure the Shower Head: If you removed the shower head, fully submerge it in the vinegar solution.If it’s not removable, pour the vinegar into a plastic bag and secure it around the shower head using a rubber band or twist tie. Ensure the holes are submerged in vinegar.
  • Soak Overnight: Let the shower head soak in the vinegar solution for several hours or overnight. This will help dissolve mineral deposits and buildup.
  • Scrub and Rinse: After soaking, use an old toothbrush to gently scrub the shower head’s surface and inside the nozzle holes to remove any remaining debris.Rinse the shower head thoroughly with clean water to remove any vinegar residue.
  • Reattach the Shower Head (if removed): Use pliers or an adjustable wrench to reattach the shower head to the pipe. Be careful not to overtighten, as this can damage the connections.
  • Test the Water Flow: Turn on the shower and check the water flow. It should be improved and consistent after cleaning.

Let us now look at the different methods of cleaning a shower head:

1. Without Using Vinegar

If your shower head holes are clogged and you don’t wish to use vinegar, a toothpick or a sharp pin will be sufficient to unblock all the nozzles and restore your water pressure. Here is how to go about it:

  • Grab a toothpick from your dining table.
  • If your shower head is high up the wall that you cannot reach it comfortably, look for a stable stand and use to elevate yourself.
  • Poke the toothpick through each of the shower head nozzles.
  • Once you are certain that all the holes are open, turn on the hot water to the shower head at full pressure and let it run for about a minute.
  • If there is limescale on the face of the shower head that you want to clean, mix water and baking soda to form a thick paste, apply it on the shower head and scrub with a brush with soft bristles.
  • Blast hot water through the shower head

The hot water will flush out the tiny pieces of debris that you just removed with the toothpick, while its pressure will further open the nozzles. Check if the water pressure in the shower head has increased considerably. If it hasn’t, you will have to remove the shower head, soak it in vinegar and deep clean it.

I find the above method to be quite effective since it will only take you a maximum of 5 minutes and no tools will be required. If one morning you wake and find your shower head pressure insufficient just do this, take your shower and go about your daily activities.

2. Using Vinegar in a Bag

Vinegar is a mild acid, which a fantastic cleaner especially when combined with baking soda. Lime scale (basically calcium) which is responsible for clogging shower head holes is an alkaline/basic compound.

Vinegar will therefore dissolve the calcium and in the process unclog the shower head, restoring its normal water pressure. Tying a plastic bag full of vinegar round the shower head will achieve this objective.

The best thing about this method just like the one above is that you don’t need to remove the shower head. You also don’t need any tools and plastic bags and vinegar are easily available in almost all homes.

How to clean a shower head with vinegar:

  • Take a plastic bag and fill with vinegar up to the 1/2 level.
  • Bring the vinegar to the bathroom, and carefully immerse the shower head inside the vinegar.
  • Secure the plastic bag on the shower arm or hose using a rubber band. Make sure that all the shower head holes are immersed in water. If the weight of the vinegar overwhelms the rubber band, get a thin but flexible wire and use it instead.
  • Wait for 30 to 60 minutes. If the shower head is badly clogged, wait for longer, preferably overnight. Please note that if your shower head has a brass, gold or nickel finish you should only have it in the vinegar for 30 minutes only.
  • When the time has lapsed, remove the vinegar and use a toothbrush to scrub the shower head. This will further help to free all the calcium deposits still clinging on the shower head.
  • Blast hot water through the shower head to flush out all the debris. Check if the water pressure of your shower head has increased.
  • If you want to be sure that all the holes are open, poke each hole with a toothpick or pin and then run hot water through the shower head once again.

3. Soak the Entire Shower Head in Vinegar.

This is probably the best way to clean a shower head. You will however need a few tools to do it. They include:

  • Adjustable wrench
  • Rag/duct tape
  • Teflon tape
  • Tooth brush
  • Bowl
  • Vinegar

Make sure that you are working safely. If your shower head is quite high and you are a short person please look for a stand with a firm base to step on as you remove and later install it.

When you have everything you need, get to work. This is how to do it:

  • Remove the shower head. Grab the shower head with your hand and twist it counterclockwise. Sometimes (especially when the shower head is plastic) it is only hand tight.
  • If the shower head is not turning, you will need to use a wrench. To avoid scratching off the head’s finish, wrap a rag or duct tape round the shower head’s nut, grab the nut with a wrench and turn it counterclockwise gently.
  • If the shower arm is weak and you are afraid you might damage it, use another wrench and tape to back it off as you loosen the shower head.
  • When the shower head is out, drop it in a bowl/jug and add equal parts water and vinegar until it is fully immersed. Let the shower head sit in the vinegar solution for at least 30 minutes. If severely clogged/dirty, leave it overnight. Shower heads with a gold, nickel or brass finish should only be left for 30 minutes.
  • If the shower is very dirty, leave out the water and soak it in pure distilled vinegar. For even better results, heat the vinegar so that it is just warm, but not boiling.
  • As you wait for the vinegar to dissolve the mineral deposits in the nozzles, turn on the shower faucet. This will flush out all the debris trapped inside the shower arm or hose.
  • If you notice mineral deposits inside the pipe, insert a toothbrush and scrub round the pipe and flush the debris out with hot water.
  • Remove the shower head from the vinegar and clean it in the bathroom sink using a toothbrush. Scrub the spaces between the holes to remove the whitish deposits which is basically limescale.
  • Take a toothpick or pin and poke through each of the holes just to be certain that there no more calcium deposits.

Before installing the shower head, you will need to first clean the threads on the shower arm or hose. Often there will be old Teflon tape and even mineral deposits as well.

  • Using the same toothbrush, scrub the shower arm’s threads all round.
  • Apply around 4 wraps of Teflon tape on the shower arm or hose threads.
  • Thread the shower head on the shower arm. You need to be careful while doing this to avoid cross threading. A good trick to use is to push the shower head straight on the threads and turn it left slightly (as though you are loosening it). Once you engage the first thread turn it to the right and thread it until it’s hand tight.
  • Use the wrench to tighten it. It does not need to be crazy tight though. Just enough to prevent leaks.
  • Turn on the water to the shower head and check the new water pressure. I am sure it will have increased considerably.

4. Using Baking Soda and Vinegar

Baking soda is a fantastic cleaning agent and works especially well when mixed with vinegar. Baking soda is basic/alkaline while vinegar is acidic.

When these 2 substances are mixed, a fizzing reaction takes place. It is this reaction that will be useful in dissolving the calcium deposits from your shower head. This is the same reason baking soda and vinegar are used to unclog drains.

Depending on your preference, you can use opt to remove the shower head and soak it in the vinegar and baking soda solution, or put the solution in a plastic bag and secure it around the shower head arm.

Option 1

  • Fill the plastic bag with vinegar up to the ½ mark.
  • Add a few tea spoons of baking soda.
  • Immerse the shower head in the solution and secure the plastic bag with a rubber bad or wire around the shower arm or hose.
  • After 30 minutes (or longer) remove the solution and scrub the shower head with a toothbrush.
  • Blast hot water through the shower head.

Option 2

  • Remove the shower head.
  • Flush the shower pipe for about 30 seconds.
  • Drop the shower head in a bowl or jug
  • Add vinegar to the bowl till the shower head is fully immersed.
  • Add about 1/3 cup of baking soda.
  • Let the shower head sit in the solution for 30 minutes or longer.
  • Clean the shower head in the bathroom sink using a brush with soft bristles.
  • Poke each hole with a toothpick.
  • Connect the shower head back.
  • Run hot water through it.

5. Using Bleach

The question here really is whether or not it is a good idea to clean a shower head with bleach. I would not recommend using a bleach to clean a shower head for 3 reasons:

  • Bleach is quite abrasive and will make you shower head finish to fade.
  • Unlike vinegar and baking soda, bleach does not completely kill the bacteria in the shower head.
  • Bleach is not eco-friendly

If you have a plastic shower head, you can go ahead and use bleach to clean it. People with metallic shower heads (which are the best shower heads) should avoid bleach.

  • Remove the shower head and drop it in a container with a diluted bleach solution and leave it for 30 minutes or longer.
  • Use a brush with soft bristles to scrub the shower head until all the limescale is removed.
  • Attach the shower head back and check if the water pressure has improved.

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