How to Clean a Showerhead – Descaling Tips and Hacks

How to Clean your shower

It’s not always the most enjoyable cleaning task – although it certainly beats having to clean the toilet – but getting the shower back in shape is still an important part of keeping your home nice and tidy.

Plus, there isn’t much worse than stepping into a shower that’s a little grimy and has soap scum all over the floor.

Cleaning your showerhead with bleach is one of the best solutions to get rid of any dirt or mould. Simple let your showehead soak in bleached water to help soak off any unwanted dirt.

Whether you are just giving it a quick touch-up, or you want to go all in and get the de-scaler out, we have a whole load of tips and tricks to help you make cleaning your shower a more enjoyable task.

So, snap those marigolds on, gather your product arsenal, and let’s get that shower sparkling. 

Before You Start: Natural or Chemical Products?

Why Clean a Shower Head?

Cleaning Methods for Showers

How to Clean a Clogged Shower Head?

How to Clean a Shower Without Using Vinegar?

How to Clean Shower Head Holes?

How to Clean a Shower Head Without Removing it?

How to Clean a Shower Head for Better Pressure?

How to Clean a Shower Head Quickly?

How to Clean a Shower Head that has Mould?

How to Descale Your Shower Head?

Tool-Free Shower Head Cleaning

Before You Start: Natural or Chemical Products?

The first thing you need to decide is whether you will be using natural products (homemade and store-bought) or chemical ones.

Both are quite effective, and a lot of the time you will find that the natural cleaning supplies provide just as much power as the chemical ones, but to help you get a better idea of what you want to use, I have gathered a little list of pros and cons for each of them. 

The pros of using natural cleaning products:

  • Better for the environment 
  • Often, the ingredients are around the house and readily available 
  • Effective on stains, and usually naturally antibacterial 
  • Natural smell, or neutralises odour 

The cons of using natural cleaning products:

  • Usually more expensive than chemical products, even for vinegar 
  • Not always as effective at killing bacteria 
  • Can take longer to take action 
  • Can cause staining if the wrong products are used 

The pros of using chemical cleaning products:

  • Incredibly strong and ideal for really tough stains 
  • Often kills more bacteria than natural products 
  • Works quickly to save time and hassle 
  • Budget-friendly as usually very inexpensive 

The cons of using chemical cleaning products: 

  • Harmful to the environment
  • Can be dangerous for health 
  • Can be too harsh on materials and surfaces
  • Strong smell that can be hard to get rid of 

Why Clean a Shower Head?

There are a few reasons you should clean your shower head, and make sure that it is maintained regularly. The first is because the little holes that allow the water to flow can become blocked due to limescale or other mineral deposits.

This will either cause the water to stop coming through them (leading to a negative increase in pressure), or it will cause the spray to be skewed and spurt out in the wrong direction. Shower heads can also be a great place for things like mould and bacteria to grow.

This can be dangerous for your health, especially if mould spores are inhaled by someone with asthma or allergies. Mould and mildew are quite common in bathrooms because they like to grow in damp environments, so it is essential to keep things clean in order to prevent their growth.

Above all, having a clean shower head is just nice. The feeling of stepping into a grimy shower is not a good one, and it can leave you feeling pretty stressed out. Getting into a shower that is nice and clean, however, feels a thousand times better. Cleanliness in your bathroom is good for your mental and physical health.

Cleaning Methods for Showers

There are a thousand ways to skin a cat, or so the saying goes, and the same can be said for cleaning showers.

Everyone has their own technique for each part and problem, and that’s why we have taken some of the top cleaning questions and answered them with some great methods to help you take back your bathroom and get your shower looking amazing again. 

#1 How to Clean a Clogged Shower Head?

There isn’t much that is more frustrating than a clogged shower head, but we have the perfect solution for you. Alongside the one we have listed here, there are also a few others listed within this section, providing you with quick and easy access to a whole range of methods that you can implement if one doesn’t quite work for you.

Gently remove the shower head from the hose or the arm it is attached to. If it is a model that can be taken apart easily (and put back together after), make sure to do so for the best results.

Place the head in a large pan of water and white vinegar (50:50 ratio) and place it on the hob, bringing it to the boil – ensuring that the shower head is fully immersed in the solution. Allow it to simmer for around 15 minutes, and add more vinegar for stubborn stains.

If you are boiling a plastic head, it should not be in the water for longer than 20 minutes, and if it needs to be re-boiled, it should be allowed to cool fully first.

Once it is done, rinse the shower head with cool water and check for any remaining scale or mineral deposits, removing any stubborn ones with a toothpick or a toothbrush. Once assembled and reattached, turn the shower on to flush it out.

Further Reading: Best Shower Heads Review

#2 How to Clean a Shower Without Using Vinegar?

For this section, we are going to look at the shower as a whole, and the ways you can clean it without using vinegar. Not everyone enjoys cleaning with it, after all, and sometimes you need something a little stronger to really tackle the grime.

As a side note, if you are using chemical cleaners, please make sure you crack the bathroom window open beforehand for ventilation.

Tiles: all you need here is your favourite brand of floor and tile cleaner, a clean sponge, and a dry cloth. Spray the tiles with the cleaner and use the sponge to scrub the area really well.

Then, rinse it in a bucket of water and use the now damp sponge to rinse the tiles. Once this is done, take the cloth and dry them off using straight downward lines to avoid streaks. Results? Good as new.

Shower Door: first, you need to rinse the door and get it wet before you do anything, and you can achieve this either by using the shower head or a bucket of water. Once that is done, apply your cleaning product of choice to the door and leave it to sit for an hour.

This helps to lift grime and stains. Then, take a soft cloth and wipe the cleaner off the door before rinsing it off again with clean water and then using a second dry cloth to prevent streaking.

Shower Curtain: if you have one of these, it is so easy to forget that they need to be washed, and it might not be until you look at the base of the curtain that you realise this. Cleaning it is really simple, and all you need to do is chuck it in the washing machine.

However, you should place a couple of towels in there with it as this will help with removing any stains. Follow the instructions on the shower curtain label, and when it is clean, you can hang it up to dry ready for use.

Drain: if you have a blocked drain and you don’t want to resort to drain cleaner just yet, you can try pouring a bucket of boiling water down there to see if it clears things up.

A lot of the time, the boiling water will loosen any clogs and allow you to benefit from a clear drain. You can also add baking soda to the solution for a little more strength, but if this doesn’t work, you may need to pick a bottle of drain cleaner up from the store.

Taps: honestly, a bowl of hot water or some antibacterial wipes does the job perfectly for me. Dampen a cloth in the hot water and gently scrub the taps to remove toothpaste and watermarks.

Use a dry cloth to wipe them down after so that they do not streak, or use antibacterial wipes to remove the marks and the cloth after to get rid of excess moisture.

#3 How to Clean Shower Head Holes?

This can be a pretty tricky task, but it is far from impossible. To clean the shower head holes effectively, a handheld shower is preferred because they are often easier to get to, but there are plenty of methods that suit a fixed model as well.

If you do decide to remove the head from the arm, if you need to use a wrench (or other tools) make sure you place a cloth between it and the arm to prevent scratching or any other form of damage.

Fixed and Handheld: all you need here is a slim toothpick, making it a really cheap way to get those nozzles unclogged.

Using the toothpick, gently poke each of the holes in turn and wiggle it around a little – breaking a hole in any deposits while loosening it ready for removal. Once each hole has been prodded, you can turn the shower on and rinse out the broken-up debris.

Handheld: for this, the best handheld shower head is easier, but you could probably do it with a mounted one as well. Take a toothbrush and soak it in white vinegar before really scrubbing each of the little nozzles to clean it up and remove any debris. 

Once this is done, turn the water on and let it blast through, clearing the holes and also letting you know if any are still blocked.

#4 How to Clean a Shower Head Without Removing it?

Don’t quite feel like the extra hassle that comes with removing your shower head? Have no fear; we actually have three quick and easy tips to help you get it clean without all the faff. However, our first technique can also be found in #9 (the plastic bag trick), so make sure you take a quick look there for our top effortless cleaning tip.

Nozzle Rubbing: take an old toothbrush and gently scrub the nozzles on your shower to loosen any limescale and debris that may have built-up.

If you don’t have a toothbrush, you can actually use your finger to the same effect, and this is especially good if you have silicone nozzles as they are the easiest to clean. Once done, turn on the shower to rinse the now loose debris, and you’re done.

The Rest: your whole shower needs a clean, so grab some cleaning mix (white vinegar and water or something stronger, whatever works for you) and a few clean clothes.

Rinse the shower head first with some warm water, and then apply the solution and really rub it in with the cloth while also being gentle. Once this is done, use another damp cloth to rinse the cleaning products from the shower, and finally a dry cloth to prevent streaks and to give it a bit of a polish.

#5 How to Clean a Shower Head for Better Pressure?

The first thing you need to do is make sure that your shower head is working properly and not retaining water, because it is often the case that you have a poor-quality shower head when the pressure suddenly drops, and the temperature begins to change somewhat rapidly.

Once you have determined that the head itself is not the root cause of the problem you can look at cleaning it. Usually, a lack of pressure is caused by a blockage within the head, and the most likely suspect is limescale.

We have mentioned how to get rid of limescale a few times in the method section, with a detailed look at the process in #8, but here we will take you through some of the top methods for cleaning your shower head in order to get better pressure:

  • Use a toothpick to unblock the holes in the shower head
  • Use an old toothbrush or a sponge to scrub the nozzles 
  • You can try boiling the shower head in a vinegar/water solution for 15 minutes 
  • Some shower heads have silicone nozzles that only require a finger wipe to get clean 
  • For really bad blockages, soak the shower head in white vinegar for an hour 

#6 How to Clean a Shower Head Quickly?

If you are in a bit of a rush and just want to give your shower head a quick clean, all you really need to do is give it a wipe with a damp cloth and the cleaning solution of your choice.

Make sure that you scrub it well and rinse afterwards, but it is the quickest way to get your shower head looking presentable. If you have a little extra time, you can also clean the nozzles using a regular kitchen sponge just for a little extra care and attention.

#7 How to Clean a Shower Head that has Mould?

Mould and mildew are a pretty serious issue, and one that is best tackled with the help of chemical cleaning products as opposed to natural ones. This is because they are often more effective when killing the mould and any bacteria that comes with it.

Diluting some bleach in a large bucket of water and leaving the shower head to soak in it for 30-60 minutes is often a great way to get rid of really stubborn mould – just make sure that you only use a little bleach so that it does not damage the shower head.

Once you have finished soaking it, rinse it off with warm water and dry it with a clean cloth. The mould should have rinsed off, but if it has not then just soak it again.

You can also try a mould and mildew spray, and these can be squirted directly onto the affected area – which is quite handy if you have a shower head that can’t be removed easily, or at all.

All you need to do is leave the cleaner on the shower head for an allotted amount of time (read the label), and then rinse clean and wipe dry. The mould and mildew should be gone, and your shower head left good as new.

#8 How to Descale Your Shower Head?

One of the best ways to descale a shower head is with vinegar, and while any will work the most effective is a white distilled vinegar. This is because malt is less effective and brown vinegar could end up staining your shower head, while white remains the best at cleaning and leaves no trace.

All you need to do is soak your shower head in a tub of white vinegar for around an hour and then rinse it all off with water before drying it off with a clean cloth. This will remove most of the limescale from the shower head, and any that is remaining can be gently scrubbed off using an old toothbrush.

For this stage, you should make sure that you pay careful attention to the nozzles to ensure that they are cleared and cleaned carefully. Once this is done, turn the shower on and allow the water to run freely through the head, flushing out any remaining deposits and also giving you the chance to make sure it is all running accordingly.

#9 Tool-Free Shower Head Cleaning

We don’t always have the tools we need for keeping our shower head clean, and if you are in this situation, we have the perfect solution for you.

It’s also a great option if you have a shower head that can’t be removed – and all you need is a plastic bag and an elastic band. All you need to do is fill the plastic bag with white vinegar, and then attach it to the shower head using the elastic band.

Leave it there for an hour (or 30 minutes if you have a brass shower head), and then remove the bag and turn the water on to flush it all out. You can finish by wiping it down with a clean, dry, cloth. This method works best for chrome and other metal shower heads.

How Often Should You Clean Your Shower Head?

It is generally agreed that cleaning your shower head once a week at least is the best way to go. This is an overall clean, so making sure that there is no mould growing and also getting rid of any bacteria that might be lurking on the head.

If you see black dots forming on your shower head, black mould is already present and needs to be dealt with quickly. For mineral deposits and build-ups, the recommended cleaning time can vary according to where you live.

For those in hard water areas, limescale often occurs quite frequently, and so you may find yourself needing to unblock and clean the head on a weekly basis – a lot like the current state of my kettle. However, you may find that once a year is more than adequate for scale and deposits, it really is down to individual cases, situations, and locations.

How long do you soak your shower head in vinegar?

30 minutes

Fill the pot with enough white vinegar to cover the showerhead. The acids in the vinegar will help dissolve the white mineral deposits on the showerhead. Let the showerhead soak in the vinegar for 30 minutes to overnight.


The main things you will want to try and prevent are limescale, mould, and mildew. The best way to do this is by ensuring that you clean your shower head regularly (as mentioned in the section above), or installing a filter in your shower so that it is able to catch the deposits and prevent them from blocking up your shower head.

However, there is another method of staying on top of things and trying to prevent build-up. There are a good number of shower heads out there that self-clean, and this means that in order to unblock the nozzles and keep it all running, you just need to run your finger over them to ensure it remains clear.

They are quite readily available, and are featured in many of our shower head buying guides. Other than that, giving your shower head a quick rinse and dry after every wash is a great way to prevent mould and mildew from forming.

To Conclude

Hopefully, this guide has helped you to find new and effective ways to clean your shower and get it back to looking brand new. Gone are the days of worrying about limescale and mildew as you can clean your shower head in ways you may not have even thought of before.

Whether you want to take the natural route or would prefer a few chemical mixes, there are tips and tricks for absolutely every household readily available. We are here to save you a little time and effort, and none of our advice should take too much time out of your day or your cleaning schedule.

What did you think of our shower cleaning guide? Did you find our advice useful, or are there other little cleaning secrets that you feel we should have added? We love hearing from you, so please feel free to leave us a message in the comments below.

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