How to clean shower heads using vinegar and baking soda.


By Irina Yakubin

When was the last time you cleaned your showerhead? While most of us don’t think about our showerhead unless it’s broken or visibly soiled, your showerhead does require occasional cleaning and maintenance. 

Here is what you need to know about maintaining your showerheads, including step-by-step instructions on how to clean them properly.

Do showerheads need to be cleaned?

In short, yes, you should clean your showerheads. But why is having a clean showerhead so important? What happens if you don’t clean them?

First, a dirty showerhead is a breeding ground for mold and bacteria. And where does that bacteria go when you turn on the shower? Right on you as you’re trying to get clean. 

Mineral deposits can also build up over time. Caused by hard water, these mineral deposits can appear as unattractive spots on your showerhead. They can also clog the water flow and decrease the water pressure that your showerhead is normally able to produce, leaving you with a less satisfying showering experience. 

How often should you clean your showerheads? 

how to clean shower heads: dirty showerhead that needs to be cleanedMost manufacturers list the cleaning instructions and recommended timeline in the manual. If you don’t have the manual on hand, consider looking one up online based on the label on your showerhead. The manufacturer will also have suggestions for how to best clean and maintain your showerhead. 

If you cannot find the manufacturer of your showerhead, or if you don’t want to bother looking for specifics, you’ll want to clean your showerhead at least once per month to avoid the buildup of bacteria and deposits. However, you should clean your showerhead as soon as you start to see mineral deposits and water spots. 

What you’ll need to clean your showerhead.

Before you attempt any cleaning project, you should first gather your supplies. Fortunately, you can easily find all of the supplies you need to clean your showerhead at home. You will need the following: 

  • White vinegar 
  • Baking soda
  • Rubber band
  • 1 plastic bag 
  • A toothbrush for scrubbing
  • Toothpicks (optional)

Vinegar is acidic, while baking soda is naturally basic. Due to their extreme pH, both vinegar and baking soda are great at breaking up mineral deposits and removing sediment that can build up on your showerhead. You can double up on the cleaning power by creating a mixture of vinegar and baking soda with some water and dish soap or by using a solution of vinegar and then following up with a baking soda paste. 

Important note: Make sure your showerhead can hold up to vinegar or baking soda. Read your owner’s manual to see if it advises against using vinegar. Some manufacturers (like this one, for example) may state you should not use vinegar on showerheads with nickel or brass finishes.

How to clean a showerhead with vinegar and water.

vinegar for showerhead cleaningWhen in doubt, you should always refer to the manufacturer's instructions when cleaning your showerheads. However, in the absence of manufacturer instructions, follow these steps for cleaning a showerhead by yourself:

Step 1: Prep your showerhead and cleaning solution.

Mix 1 part water and 2 parts vinegar in a plastic bag, and seal the bag. You can also use a commercial cleaning solution that is specifically designed for cleaning showerheads. 

If you are able to remove your showerhead, it will be much easier to clean. However, if you cannot remove your showerhead, you can still follow the next steps.

Step 2: Soak the showerhead in your cleaning solution.

Insert the showerhead into the bag. Once the showerhead is submerged, tie the ends of the plastic bag and secure it with a rubber band. If you’re not able to remove your showerhead, submerge as much of the showerhead as you can, tie the bag tightly around the showerhead, and secure the bag in place with a rubber band (you might need several since you’re working against gravity). 

Let your showerhead soak in the bag of vinegar for at least an hour. For a mixture of baking soda and vinegar, let soak for at least 30 minutes. If you can, allow the showerhead to soak for a few hours or even overnight. 

If you’re using a commercial cleaning solution, make sure to follow the instructions on the container. 

Step 3: Rinse the showerhead thoroughly.

Once you’re ready to remove the plastic bag from your showerhead, you’ll need to run hot water for about 5-10 minutes. If you’ve removed your showerhead, go ahead and reattach it. If you were not able to remove your showerhead, simply remove the bag of vinegar. Make sure that you’ve thoroughly rinsed the showerhead to remove the vinegar.

Step 4: Get rid of stubborn sediment.

Use the toothbrush to scrub away any stubborn stains and deposits from your showerhead. If needed, you can dip your toothpaste in a bit of white vinegar or into a paste made with baking soda and water to help break up the deposits. You can also use a toothbrush (or a toothpick) to remove clogs.

Step 5: Rinse one last time. 

Run hot water through your showerhead one final time to ensure that all of the vinegar and any stubborn deposits are cleared from your showerhead. 

How to clean a showerhead with a baking soda paste.

baking soda paste on toothbrush to clean showerheadIf you are not a fan of vinegar, or simply don’t have any on hand, you can mix baking soda, vinegar and a bit of dish soap for extra power. If you do choose to mix vinegar and baking soda, be aware that the mixture may fizzle, so make sure that you are mixing over a sink.

Here’s how to use baking soda to clean your showerhead:

Step 1: Create a baking soda paste.

Add a bit of water to several spoonfuls of baking soda to create a paste. If you’ve accidentally added too much water, counterbalance by adding more baking soda until you have a thick paste. 

Step 2: Apply the paste with a toothbrush.

Use a toothbrush to apply the paste to your showerhead. This allows you to scrub a bit at the same time. Let the paste sit for at least 30 minutes.

Step 3: Scrub a bit more and rinse well.

Now that paste has broken up the deposits, wet your toothbrush and scrub again. You can also use toothpicks to clean the holes in the showerhead.

When you're done, rinse the showerhead thoroughly to remove the paste and deposits. 

Tips for keeping your showerheads clean for as long as possible.

To keep your showerhead in good shape between cleanings, make sure that you take a moment to pat it dry with a towel after you’re finished showering. This helps remove excess water and decreases deposit buildup. Likewise, if your showerhead has a “Flood” position, make sure to use that option after you shower to help drain out excess water.

If you love a shining showerhead, a coat of non-abrasive wax may help keep your showerhead looking clean and new. But before applying any sort of finish to your showerhead, check the manufacturer’s instructions.

Use Thumbtack to find cleaning services.

Sometimes, you need a professional to clean your showerhead, bathroom and other areas in your home. A cleaning service can help you maintain a clean, sparkling home when life gets too busy. Download Thumbtack to search, compare and hire a professional house cleaner near you.


How long should you soak your showerhead in vinegar? 

You should soak your showerhead in vinegar for at least one hour, but you can also soak it for several hours or overnight to get a deeper clean. If you are using a mix of vinegar and baking soda, soak for at least 30 minutes. 

Do vinegar and baking soda clean the showerhead?

Yes, you can use vinegar, baking soda or a combination of both to clean your showerhead. Whatever you choose, make sure you let it soak and rinse the showerhead thoroughly. 

How do you remove limescale from a showerhead without vinegar?

If you don’t have white vinegar (or don’t like the smell of white vinegar), baking soda may work instead. Add a few drops of water to your baking soda to create a paste, then apply that paste to your showerhead and let sit for at least an hour. Rinse thoroughly with hot water for at least 5 minutes to remove the baking soda and any stubborn deposits. 

You can also use a store-bought showerhead cleaner. Do your research and check your manufacturer’s guidelines to find the best product to remove limescale from your showerhead. 

Does vinegar affect chrome showerheads? 

You can use vinegar to clean your chrome showerhead. Use a diluted solution of one part water and two parts vinegar.

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