You and members of your household use the shower every day. After all this use, the shower head may get dirty. Limescale, mineral buildup, soap scum, hair and other debris can clog the holes in the shower head. This reduces the water pressure and lessens your enjoyment of showering. Follow these helpful tips to clean the shower head in your San Jose, CA home.

Signs You Need to Clean Your Shower Head

Chances are you don’t spend a lot of time looking up at your shower head. As long as it sprays water out, you probably don’t think about it very often. However, once the shower head’s holes or connection develop too much buildup, you’ll notice during your daily showers. The water may spray out of the shower head in different directions. Some of the holes may be fully obstructed, so no water will come out of some parts of the shower head. You might also notice low water pressure. If you can see buildup on the shower head, this is a clear sign that it needs to be cleaned. Look for white, yellow or orange colored buildup on the shower head and its connecting pipe.

Types of Buildup on Shower Heads

Most of the buildup on shower heads in San Jose comes from minerals dissolved in the water. If you see white buildup on your shower head, this is called limescale. It comes from water with a lot of calcium and magnesium. If the buildup you see looks yellow to orange, your water likely has a lot of iron and magnesium in it. When the droplets of water dry, they leave the minerals behind. The oxygen in the air oxidizes the minerals, forming a rusty stain and thin layers of mineral deposits.

Clean the Nozzle

Many newer shower heads feature rubber nozzles. To clean the nozzle, massage it between your fingers and thumb. You can also use a toothbrush to clean the nozzle’s folds. This quick process removes crusty buildup, hair and soap scum from the nozzle.

Soak the Head in Vinegar

Most of the buildup on and in a shower head is made of calcium and magnesium. These elements combine with other minerals in the water to create a hard, crusty layer of buildup. The limescale buildup is a weak base, and a weak acid will help dissolve it. Vinegar is a cheap, easy to find, simple to use weak acid commonly used in household cleaning. Pour about four cups of distilled white vinegar into a strong plastic bag. Submerge the shower head in the bag. Keep the bag in place with a zip tie. If your shower head hasn’t been cleaned in a long time, keep the bag attached to the shower head overnight.

Try a Calcium Remover

If you know that your home has hard water, try a commercially prepared calcium, lime and rust remover. These products are available in powder, gel and spray forms. They dissolve the hard, scaly buildup. If vinegar alone doesn’t work, try one of these products. You’ll need personal protective equipment, including gloves, goggles and long-sleeved clothing when handling these home maintenance chemicals.

Clean the Filter Screen

Some shower heads have a filter screen. The screen is located between the head and the pipe. If you still have the manual for your shower head, it will show you how to access it. You can also look up the manual online. The shower head’s filter screen can also get filled with mineral buildup. If the filter’s pores get clogged, the water won’t be able to exit the pipe and enter the shower head. In most cases, a pair of tweezers or a set of needle-nose pliers will allow you to remove the filter screen without bending it or pushing it into the pipe. Rinse the screen in vinegar. Use a toothbrush to scrub it clean, then place it back into the pipe.

Scrub the Shower Head

After removing the bag of vinegar from the shower head, use a soft-bristled brush to scrub it. Work the bristles of the brush into the holes of the shower head. After scrubbing the shower head, turn on the cold water. Allow the water to flow through the shower head for several minutes. This pushes any remaining debris out of the shower head’s holes.

Wipe the Debris

After scrubbing the shower head, wipe its exterior clean of debris. If your shower also has a handheld sprayer, use the sprayer’s jet to rinse off the shower head. If you don’t have one, use a damp microfiber cloth to wipe off the shower head.

Remove the Shower Head

If a plastic bag won’t stay on your shower head so that you can give it a vinegar soak, you’ll need to remove the shower head for cleaning. Debris, rust or mineral buildup may make it difficult to remove the shower head. Most shower heads simply screw on to the pipe, but you might need a spray of WD-40 to help loosen it. After spraying WD-40 on the shower head’s lug or nut, allow it to penetrate the metal for about two hours before you try to detach the shower head. You may also need some extra torque from a wrench.

If the shower head won’t budge even after you’ve applied a vinegar spray and used a wrench for more torque, consider calling a plumber. Applying too much force to the shower head could crack the head or the pipe. The application of too much force could also strip the threads that allow the shower head to remain in the correct position on the pipe.

After you remove the shower head, place it in a glass bowl or plastic bag of distilled white vinegar for several hours. For stubborn limescale buildup, keep the shower head in the bag overnight.

Regularly Spray the Shower Head

After a thorough shower head cleaning with vinegar, routine cleaning will help keep the buildup and debris to a minimum. After each shower, spray the shower head with diluted vinegar. Mix one part white distilled vinegar to 3 parts water, and put it in an opaque spray bottle. For convenience, keep the spray bottle of diluted vinegar in the bathroom. When you do your weekly bathroom cleaning, wipe off the shower head and pipe. Vinegar also works to keep limescale and mineral buildup off the faucet and bathtub drain.

How Often to Deep Clean a Shower Head

If your home has hard water, perform a vinegar soak and deep cleaning of your shower head once every two to three months. This will keep the shower head’s holes and connection clean and free of buildup. If your home has water with a hardness level in the normal range, deep clean the shower head at least every six months.

If you’re not in need of shower head services, today, we also offer plumbing fixture maintenance, installation and repair. Our drain and sewer services keep your home safe and functional. You can also count on us for water, gas and emergency plumbing services. For more information on how to clean a shower head, get in touch with us at Plumbtree Plumbing & Rooter today.

Josh Gibson

Hi, I’m Josh. I’ve been around plumbing my whole life. When I was 5-6 years old my family built a home where I did a lot of the sanding of copper pipe and definitely some playing in the mud. Plumbing is a major part of my family as I am a fourth-generation plumber. The skills I bring to the job are a good technical knowledge of plumbing and code requirements. I am often complimented on my hands-on problem-solving skills.
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