How to Clean a Shower Head
So you want to know how to clean a shower head, and ideally you don’t want to use any harsh chemicals?
We prepared not one, but two methods you can use.
To figure out which one is right for you, have a look at the tiny holes in the nozzles of your shower head (where the water’s supposed to come out).
Are the little holes visible, or are they blocked with grime?
If they’re visible, we recommend you do a Surface Clean. If they’re blocked, or you simply want to do a thorough job, you may want to skip down to the Deep Clean.
Method 1: Surface Clean
If your water system hasn’t been stagnant, the water quality in your municipality is outstanding and all you want to do is clean out a clogged shower head, then this speedy method is for you.
The materials you’ll need for this method are an old toothbrush, vinegar, a plastic bag, a rubber band, and natural dish soap.
Follow these steps:
1. Scrub the nozzle
The first step in cleaning your shower head is to rub them with an old toothbrush to remove any dry mineral buildup.
If the shower head nozzle has been cleaned recently, that may be all you have to do.
If it’s been a while, proceed to the next step.
2. Soak the shower head in vinegar
Leave the shower head where it is (on the pipe coming out of the wall).
Prepare a small plastic bag that can fit in the shower head, get some vinegar (like this one here), and find a rubber band.
Fill up the plastic bag with vinegar and secure it around the shower head with the rubber band. Make sure the bag is on tight to prevent it from falling off.
Let the bag with the vinegar sit on the shower head for a few hours, preferably overnight. Then take it off.
3. Wash the shower head with soap
Now that your shower head is shiny, the final step is to wash it out one more time, simply because you don’t want to be smelling vinegar throughout your next shower.
Lather up the shower head using some natural dish soap, or soak it in a bowl of soapy water.
We recommend you use 100% natural dish soap that doesn’t contain any harsh synthetic chemicals.
Watch the video to learn why that’s important:
Find out more info right here.
And that’s how you clean a shower head that isn’t too clogged or dirty!
But if your shower head is severely clogged, you should try Method 2.
Method 2: Deep Clean
If a thorough job is necessary, it’s time to take off the whole shower head.
For this method, you’ll need a rag, a non-marring wrench, natural dish soap (optional), a straight pin or safety pin, vinegar, and plumbing tape.
1. Unscrew the shower head
Put the rag around the shower head to ensure you don’t accidentally scratch it. Then, with the wrench, unscrew the nut of the shower head to remove it from the pipe in the wall.
2. Brush the shower head
Turn on the faucet in your bathroom sink to wash the shower head while brushing the nozzle with an old toothbrush to remove the mineral buildup.
To remove the minerals more efficiently, add some natural dish soap.
3. Poke that nozzle!
Get out a pin for poking the nozzle. That’s an easy way to remove the smallest and hardest minerals that continue to clog up the shower head.
4. Soak the shower head in vinegar
Fill a bowl with vinegar and let the shower head soak in it overnight.
After soaking, it will look and feel like new.
And all of that without having to use any harsh chemicals!
5. Reinstall the shower head
Congratulations; now you’ve got a new-looking shower head. All that’s left to do is reinstall it on the pipe in the wall.
First, wrap some plumbing tape around the pipe to prevent water leakage (see here for more details).
Cover the shower head with a rag or use a non-marring wrench to protect it from getting scratched while you’re screwing it onto the pipe. Then, screw it in.
Before you put your tools away, turn on the water to ensure there are no leaks.
And that’s how to clean a shower head the thorough way!
Now that you’re a shower-head-cleaning master, let’s dig a bit deeper and talk about why it’s so important to clean your shower head often.
Why clean your shower head?
The most obvious reasons to clean a shower head are cosmetic (it looks dirty) or functional (the little holes are clogged).
But did you know that a dirty shower head can also pose a risk to your health?
Scientists have identified three ways in which a dirty shower head can make you sick.
1. Lung infections
A team of researchers from the American Society for Microbiology found that shower heads in the US commonly harbor “nontuberculous mycobacteria”, which are a kind of bacteria that can harm human health.
These bacteria often find their way into shower head from the city’s municipal water system.
The scientists found that, if your municipal water is treated with chlorine, chances are high that your shower head may be harboring these harmful bacteria.
For people with a weakened immune system, like pregnant or elderly folks, those pathogens could be highly dangerous, causing a tuberculosis-like lung disease.
That is why you should clean your shower head on a regular basis.
And it’s also why we recommended above that you clean your shower head with vinegar.
While vinegar works wonders for breaking down dried minerals inside a shower head, and leaving your shower head beautiful and shiny, it also serves a more important function.
Vinegar is a relatively strong acid, with a pH level of around 2.5.
That level of acidity does a great job at disinfecting.
A British team of researchers confirmed that vinegar effectively kills bacteria, including the nontuberculous mycobacteria that often lives on and inside shower heads.
Vinegar is perfect for the job because it kills the bacteria, and is non-toxic. Unlike other disinfectants (like bleach), with vinegar you never have to worry about accidentally damaging your lungs or skin.
What about other health hazards lurking in your shower head?
2. Crohn’s disease
A British study found that one of the ways humans contract Crohn’s disease is though the shower.
Crohn’s disease is “significantly associated” with bacteria called Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) – meaning that MAP bacteria are suspected as possibly causing the disease.
MAP originates in livestock. The researchers discovered that MAP enters the human water supply when runoff from livestock farms drains into freshwater streams and lakes.
From there, MAP makes its way into the water that we use for drinking and bathing.
To protect yourself, studies suggest you should filter your drinking water, clean your shower head regularly, and let the water run briefly before stepping into the shower.
3. Legionnaires' disease
If you’ve been out of town for a while, then there’s probably a party going on inside your shower head.
When the water in your home’s plumbing system lies stagnant, bacteria in your shower head multiply, ready to glom onto your face as soon as the water is turned on.
An Illinois study discovered that stagnant water commonly harbors a wide array of disease-causing bacteria, including the bacteria responsible for Legionnaires' disease.
Again, researchers recommend you clean your shower head regularly, and always let the water run for a few moments before stepping into the shower. The first 100 mL (3.38 ounces) of water to exit the shower head always contain the highest concentration of bacteria.
If you weren’t motivated to clean your shower head before, hopefully you are now.
Now you know how to clean a shower head!
We recommend cleaning your shower head once a month. And if someone in your household has a weakened immune system, you might want to clean it more often (every two weeks) to help protect their health.
Since you’ve just learned how to clean the shower head, why not find out how to clean a coffee maker.
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