How to clean a showerhead to remove limescale and help water pressure

Cleaning your showerhead is surprisingly simple if you follow our easy guide

Close up of a chrome showerhead spraying water on a pale pink background
(Image credit: Getty)

Learning how to clean a showerhead might never have crossed your mind. After all, you clean your tub and shower walls, and those are the truly grimy parts, right? How dirty can a showerhead be when the only thing it touches is water and maybe a little soap?

A showerhead may not be as dirty as your shower floor, but it's not exactly clean. It may be hiding mildew and bacteria, and the water that passes through it every day leaves behind mineral deposits. Over time, limescale buildup can clog the holes, reducing your water pressure and downgrading your shower experience. If you live in an area with hard water, those mineral deposits will build up more quickly.

While you'll need to do more than a quick wipe down, fortunately it's easy to learn how to clean a showerhead. You don't even need to use any harsh chemical cleaners.

And once your showerhead is gleaming, you might find our guides on how to clean a bathroom, how to clean a toilet thoroughly and how to clean toilet bowl stains handy too.

How to clean a showerhead

It's surprisingly simple! First, gather your supplies. You probably have everything in your house already, including vinegar. Vinegar is a really handy addition to your bathroom cleaning and kitchen cleaning routines, thanks to its natural antibacterial properties (opens in new tab). 

To clean a showerhead you will need:

  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Baking soda
  • A plastic freezer bag
  • Microfiber cloth 
  • A rubber band, zip tie, or twist tie

From there, you are four easy steps away from a clean showerhead.

1. Prepare your cleaning solution

Put half a cup of baking soda into your plastic bag. Slowly add vinegar until the bag is about half full, taking your time to let the bubbles settle as you go so you don't have an overflow situation. You can add a little water to dilute the mixture and fill the bag to ensure the showerhead will be fully immersed in the liquid. 

2. Put the showerhead in the solution

If you have a removable showerhead, you can take it off and put it directly in the bag. Prop the bag up by putting it in a bowl or pitcher. If your showerhead is fixed on, simply tie the bag around the showerhead, securing it with the twist tie or rubber band. In either case, make sure the holes are submerged. 

3. Let it sit for a few hours

Hang back and let that baking soda and vinegar mixture do its thing! If your showerhead is especially dirty or clogged, you can even let it sit overnight.

If you have a shower head that's coated with brass, nickel or another fine finish, keep in mind that prolonged exposure to vinegar can damage the finish. If this is the case, you can still use this cleaning method by diluting plain vinegar with water (no baking soda necessary) and letting your showerhead soak for no more than 30 minutes. It's a good idea to consult the user manual for instructions if you have a showerhead that requires special care and attention. 

4. Rinse and wipe clean

Open the bag, pour the solution down the drain and run hot water through the showerhead to flush out any buildup. If you notice any stuck-on residue, you can use a toothbrush to scrub it away gently. Wipe it clean with a microfiber cloth, and you're good to go! 

How often should I clean my showerhead?

bathroom with large glass shower

(Image credit: Alamy)

For most people, once a month is enough. If you have hard water, or if there are multiple people using the shower every day, you may need to do it more often. Because cleaning your shower head is safe and easy, it's perfectly fine to do this as often as you need to. A good rule of thumb is to clean it any time you notice the water isn't flowing smoothly through the holes in your showerhead.

You can also keep a spray bottle of home-made cleaner in your shower and give your showerhead a spritz about once a week. This will help you maintain that fresh feeling in your shower and lengthen the time between your deep cleans. 

How to keep your shower sparkling between deep cleans

As mentioned above, you can spray your showerhead once a week with a homemade vinegar and water solution. Make that a part of your shower-cleaning routine when you scrub the walls and floors, and you won't have to do the complete deep-cleaning process as often.

If you have a shower curtain, cleaning it is also an important part of maintaining a spotless shower. When left alone, mildew and soap scum will slowly take over. Fortunately, you don't have to struggle with scrubbing it clean. If it's looking grungy, simply pop it in the washing machine with your sheets or towels. Do this about once a month to prevent buildup and keep the curtain looking fresh. 

Now that you know how to clean your showerhead, you won't neglect it again! Removing mineral buildup, mildew and bacteria will keep the water running smoothly for an enjoyable shower experience every time. 

Amy Hunt is an experienced digital journalist specialising in homes, interiors and hobbies. She began her career working as the features assistant at woman&home magazine, before moving over to the digital side of the brand where she eventually became the Lifestyle Editor up until January 2022. Amy won the Digital Journalist of the Year award at the AOP Awards in 2019 for her work on