It cleans us. Now, let's repay the favor.

Spring cleaning is upon us, and that means we finally have to revisit those chores we've been avoiding. These strategically ignored, swept-under-the-rug chores are oft inconvenient and less noticeable when left alone (to our inner lazy girl's delight) than most, which is precisely why we table them for so much longer than chores like, say, doing laundry, vacuuming, or changing air filters.

Without a doubt, cleaning your showerhead is one of those avoided chores. Sure, scrubbing (and bubbling) shower tiles and doors is no fun, either—but something about the showerhead is much, much more irritating. How? Why? Mineral deposits like limescale can build up inside, causing all sorts of trouble we'll get into below; and there's no better time than now to tackle this task. Here's how to clean your showerhead.

How to Clean a Showerhead
Credit: bymuratdeniz/Getty Images

How to Clean a Showerhead Without Removing It

First, to determine whether or not you should remove the showerhead to clean it, turn it on and take a good look. If the water is shooting out in all different directions, if the pressure is weak, or if the water is straight-away not coming out of some of its holes, you'll want to remove the head to clean it. (Stay tuned.)

But, assuming the situation is not quite so dire, follow these steps to clean it while still attached.

1. Wipe away any surface debris with a toothbrush or sponge.

2. Fill a bag with equal parts water and white vinegar. Add half a cup to a cup of baking soda if desired. (This will do you one better, but vinegar generally is one of the best cleaning agents for your shower as-is.)

3. Secure the bag over the showerhead with a rubber band, string, twist ties, or strong hair elastics. Secure it tightly! Make sure the showerhead holes are fully immersed in the liquid.

4. Let it soak for at least 20-30 minutes, longer if possible.

5. Remove the bag, wipe away any loose debris or buildup, and run the water to flush out any interior ickiness or leftover vinegar.

How to Clean a Showerhead By Removing It

If your showerhead fits any of the criteria stated above—sporadic water streams, weak pressure, or inability to spray at all—you might actually need to remove it altogether to clean. (Ah spring cleaning, how fun and spontaneous you are!) Follow these simple steps, which you'll find similar to the above method.

1. First, you'll need to disconnect the showerhead, which might require a wrench to loosen it from the shower arm.

2. Next, try to loosen and remove mineral deposits by scrubbing the inner and outer bits of the showerhead with an old toothbrush or using toothpicks to clean the holes. Use the vinegar-water-baking soda mixture to clean.

3. In a plastic bag, bowl, or sink, submerge the showerhead completely in the vinegar solution and allow to soak for at least an hour.

4. Reattach the showerhead and run water until the vinegar solution is completely washed out.


How often should I clean my showerhead?

Twice a year feels ambitious enough for us, though experts will recommend cleaning it more frequently. Here's a little cheat: For hassle-free maintenance, simply spray your showerhead with the vinegar-based solution (which you can keep in a spray bottle under your sink) every so often when you get out of the shower to fight off bacteria and buildup.

Should I use bleach…you know, for good measure?

NO. Do not use bleach. In a CIRES showerhead study, researchers found that chlorine bleach can actually increase the production of harmful bacteria, which is the opposite of your desired result.

What should I use to scrub off any nasty stuff pre- and during cleaning?

Avoid using a course sponge or brush, as it can ruin the finish on your showerhead. An old toothbrush, rag, or soft sponge makes for a fine choice of cleaning supply.

It's time to nip this spring cleaning chore in the bud. Showerheads everywhere, beware!