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1 March 2023

How to Clean & Descale a Shower Head

Shower heads frequently come into contact with hard water.

As a result, the buildup of limescale over time is inevitable, leading to possible blockages and an irregular and slower water flow.

Hence, it’s recommended to clean and descale shower heads from time to time to prevent such issues.

Besides, the shower head will be clean and free from mold and bacteria.

Tools & Materials

You will need the following:

  • White vinegar
  • Bucket or container
  • Spanner, wrench or pliers
  • Old toothbrush
  • Plastic bag
  • String or elastic bands
  • Soft cloth

Cleaning Shower Heads with White Vinegar

Bottle of Distilled White VinegarWhile there are various descaling products on the market, many feel that nothing works better than white vinegar.

This natural and inexpensive cleaning product can help you descale your shower head effectively and quickly.

Handheld Shower Head

Handheld Showerhead
Image credit: Pixabay

In the case of a handheld shower head, you should first remove it from its hose.

Make sure to see that the rubber gasket is stored away safely for reattachment later.

Place the shower head in a bucket or a large enough container to immerse it in white vinegar.

Allow it to soak in it for at least half an hour.

Often it is better to allow an hour, unless it’s a brass shower head.

In the case of the latter, do not exceed 30 minutes.

Next, take the shower head out of the vinegar and rinse it well under running water.

There may still be some limescale stuck to some parts.

You can use an old toothbrush to remove this easily.

Once you are ready, rinse it again, then dry and polish it with a soft cloth.

Reattach the shower head to the hose and turn on the water to flush away any remaining limescale.

Run it for at least 30 seconds to ensure that any residual vinegar and limescale particles are flushed out.

Wall & Ceiling Mounted Shower Head

Wall Mounted Shower Head
Image credit: Pixabay

Most wall and ceiling mounted shower heads nowadays feature quick release mechanisms.

However, in the case of older fixed shower heads, you will need to use a different method as it will be a bit trickier to clean.

Get a strong plastic bag that can fit easily over the shower head.

Fill up to half of it with white vinegar. Then, place over the shower head, making sure that it is completely submerged.

If it is not, just add some more vinegar.

You can use an elastic band or a piece of string to tie the bag in place.

Allow it to soak in the vinegar between 30 minutes and an hour.

Then, remove the plastic bag and turn on the shower to remove any deposits of limescale that may still have remained attached to the showerhead or within it.

A toothpick or paper clip can be used to unclog nozzles that seem to have remained blocked.

An old toothbrush can be used to scrub any buildup.

You may need to repeat the process if the limescale build-up is substantial.

Cleaning Shower Heads without Vinegar

While distilled white vinegar is the most popular option to clean shower heads, you may also use other products.

Apple cider vinegar can work well too.

Lemon juice mixed with water is also reasonably effective.

Both of them contain acids which will manage to dissolve mineral deposits.

There are also commercial shower head descaling products which you can buy.

Make sure to follow the instructions on the packaging when using them.

Cleaning the Shower Head Filter Screen

If after you’ve carried out the cleaning and descaling process you still notice that the shower head is sputtering, then it’s best to check the filter screen.

  • Remove the shower head using a wrench. Lockable pliers can also work well.
  • Flush the interior of the shower head with water to clear away anything within.
  • Remove the filter screen using needle-nose pliers.
  • Rinse the filter screen with water. If you notice mineral buildup, it’s best to place the filter screen in a bowl of white vinegar and allow it to soak within it for some time.
  • Clean the rest of the shower head as outlined before.
  • Then once you’re done, reinstall the filter screen and reattach the shower head.
  • Run the shower head at full pressure for some time to make sure that any remaining debris is flushed out.

How to Remove Shower Head Mineral Deposits

Mineral deposits can be removed by using white vinegar.

You may also opt for lemon juice or a commercial descaler.

Some scrubbing may be required for more stubborn buildups.

The more regularly you clean your shower head, the fewer mineral deposits will be present.

How Often Should You Clean a Shower Head?

Brushed Nickel Shower Head
Image credit: Unsplash

As a general rule, it’s ideal to descale your shower head once a month.

This will help to reduce limescale, and prevent blockages and a slower water flow.

If you live in an area with very hard water, then you may need to clean the shower head more often.

How to Prevent Shower Head Limescale Build Up

As always, prevention is better than cure.

Hence, a simple routine maintenance of the shower head will prevent that the limescale build-up gets too hard to remove.

Removing the shower head once a month to rinse away small pieces of limescale that will have collected inside is surely quicker and easier than trying to remove a substantial amount of limescale build-up.

It would also help to wipe off surface water from the shower head when you are done showering.

As soon as you notice reduced water flow, clean the shower head thoroughly as this is one of the telltale signs that there’s substantial mineral deposits blocking up the shower head.

It’s also recommended to use a bathroom fan during and after showering or bathing as this will help to remove the humidity from the room more quickly, thereby reducing mold and mildew growth.


A weak flow of water while showering is not something anyone likes to experience.

However in most cases the solution is very simple – just descale the shower head.

And as you have discovered from what we discussed above, it’s very easy to do this.

Besides, it is surely much better to have a clean shower head rather than one that is full of white, chalky deposits and bacteria.

How to Clean & Descale a Shower Head
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How to Clean & Descale a Shower Head
Discover how to thoroughly clean a shower head including descaling of handheld, wall mounted & ceiling mounted shower heads.
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