This small part could be harboring a whole lot of dirt and grime.

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We've all had that moment: Peering into the depths of the coffee maker or closely inspecting the straw of a reusable water bottle, only to find colonies of mold and grime living inside. From tile grout to everyday appliances, those little kitchen nooks and crannies secretly harbor lots of unsightly grime. By now, we know to periodically clean these small spots. We hate to break it to you, but there’s one more unsuspecting filth-catcher to add to your list—your faucet aerator.

The faucet aerator is a filter that fits into your faucet head, the part that your water actually streams out of. Your faucet aerator performs the humble job of mixing water with air. It forms an even flow of water and prevents splashing. Aerators are integral in water conservation and, according to Home Water Works, can even “reduce a sink’s water flow by 30 percent or more” without sacrificing its performance. Good for the environment and good for your water bills? Sounds like a win-win.

While faucet aerators are standard parts of most sinks, they could be building up lots of unsightly dirt and grime. Since the aerator acts as a filter, it can catch any particles that may have been in your water, trapping mineral deposits and sediment in the aerator. Over time, this debris can build up and inhibit the performance of your faucet. If you’ve got a dirty aerator, all of your tap water will be filtered through a clogged layer of grime. Gross.

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If your water flow is weak or faltering, it could be because the aerator is clogged with a whole lotta grime. Luckily, this is a quick fix. Unscrew the cap from the faucet and simply rinse the aerator screen with hot water. You can also use a small brush to help scrub it clean. If you find that minerals or sediments are trapped inside your aerator, let the aerator sit in a cup of white vinegar overnight to clean and sanitize. (White vinegar does the trick to clean lots of household appliances, like your showerhead.)

You can prevent this buildup by regularly unscrewing your faucet head and cleaning your aerator. This will help you maintain a strong water flow and prevent any dirt and debris from sticking around in your faucet cap. Now I’ll be right back, I’ve gotta go take apart my faucet.

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