How to clean a shower head and get rid of limescale

Shower head with limescale
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Knowing how to clean a shower head might be something you've not thought about when it comes to home cleaning. But think about it — how long have you been using your shower head? It was most likely there when you moved in, or maybe you installed it years ago and haven't given it a second thought. 

Water passes through a shower head everyday, and with years of use, limescale will inevitably build-up around the holes, which can slow the flow of the water, and doesn’t look great either.

The good news is that cleaning a shower head isn't hard at all and most of the work is totally hands-off. You don’t need to buy expensive cleaning chemicals to do this either. Here’s how to easily clean a shower head. And since you're already in the bathroom, check out how to clean a bathtub, how to clean grout on floor tiles to get rid of stains and how to unclog a drain without using a plunger.

Also, here's 7 ways to prevent limescale in your shower, if you want to keep it limescale-free in the future. To deal with water marks, here's how to clean a glass shower door

How to clean a shower head

What you will need

White distilled vinegar (about 2-3 cups depending on the size of your shower head)

A gallon-sized plastic food storage bag

Twine or twist ties

Old toothbrush

Microfiber cloth

This method is best used on stainless steel shower heads, do not use it to clean brass or brushed-nickel shower heads as vinegar can damage the finish. 

1. First, if your shower head is removable, lay it on the floor of your bathtub, or in the sink if you can reach and let any excess water run out. Don’t worry if it’s not removable — you can still use this method while it’s attached to the wall/ceiling.  

2. Pour 2 cups (you can add more later if you need) of white vinegar into the plastic bag. 

3. Carefully, place the bag over the shower head (keeping an eye on the vinegar so you don’t spill it down yourself), adjusting until the entire fixture is immersed in the vinegar. Add more vinegar if your shower head isn't fully submerged.  

4. Secure the bag around the neck of the shower head with either a piece of twine or using a twist tie. Carefully test how secure the bag is before you let go fully.

Shower head in bag of vinegar

(Image credit: Future)

5. Let the shower head soak in the vinegar for 8-12 hours. For an especially dirty fixture, leave it overnight.

6. Once time is up, remove the bag from around the shower head. Don’t throw it away just yet! Run some hot water through the shower head for a few seconds to flush out any mineral deposits stuck inside.

7. Using an old toothbrush, dip it into the vinegar and scrub around the holes where water comes out, to ensure there is no remaining build-up. 

8. Use a damp microfiber cloth to wash away the vinegar and buff with a dry section, leaving your newly cleaned shower head shining. Discard the used vinegar down the shower drain or into the sink.

Clean shower head

(Image credit: Future)

Your shower head should now be sparkling clean and the water flow should also be much better than before. This method is not only effective on shower heads, you can also clean stainless steel taps in the same way.  

How often should you clean your shower head

To keep the mineral and bacteria build-up at bay, your shower head should be cleaned once a month. 

Adding this process into your bathroom cleaning routine will extend the life of your shower head and take the cleanliness of your shower to the next level. Make sure you, or anyone else in the household, won't need access to the shower while you clean it though, as it can take several hours! 

As for other cleaning tips, check out this TikTok lemon hack to remove limescale on faucets and how to descale a kettle. You can also read about how this $3 tool helped me clean my bathroom in seconds.