EXACTLY How Often You Should Clean a Shower Head

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Often, you clean all areas of the bathroom except for the showerhead. While cleaning the showerhead doesn’t have to be as frequent as when you clean the toilet and sink, it needs cleaning, too. So, the question now is how often should you clean a showerhead? 

How Often Should You Clean A Shower Head?

You should clean a shower head at least once a week to avoid a buildup of minerals. Mineral deposits when left unmanaged can clog your showerhead and cause low water pressure. Even worse, a dirty showerhead promotes a breeding ground for bacteria and mold.

You might need to clean your showerhead more often or less depending on the pressure of your water. Households that use high-pressure water are more likely to suffer from a buildup of minerals or limescale. Therefore, the showerhead needs more regular cleaning.

Clean shower head

What Happens if You Don’t Clean Your Shower Head?

A lot of things could happen just by delaying showerhead cleaning. Everything boils down to having unnecessary expenses. Your health can be put at risk as well. 

If you don’t clean your shower head at least every once a week, then you might experience one or all of the following:

  • mineral buildup
  • low water output
  • mold and mildew
  • broken plumbing fixture

Mineral Buildup

Hard water contains high levels of minerals. Usually, it has high calcium and magnesium content. These minerals pass through the pipes to your showerhead. However, when exposed to heat, they precipitate and harden. As a result, they clog the pipes including your showerhead.

Low Water Output

Depending on the type of showerhead that you have at home, the holes can be very small that some minerals would not be able to pass through, especially when they precipitate. As this continues to happen, the minerals will buildup in the showerhead and cause clogging.

Over time, there will be insufficient holes for water to pass through. This will result in low water output.

Broken Plumbing Fixtures

Eventually, the showerhead might fail as a result of clogging. So will the pipes leading to it because of restricted water pressure.

Mold and Mildew

Did you know that mold only needs 24-48 hours to germinate when there is enough amount of heat, moisture, and food? When they start to grow, it can affect your health, too.

You may inhale the mold spores when they get into the air while using the shower. This can cause mold allergies and respiratory problems.

How Hard Water Affects Your Showerhead

If there is anything to blame for mold and mildew, mineral deposits, clogging, and other dirty showerhead-related issues, it’s your home’s water quality. This is either you are using soft water or hard water. However, chances are high that you are using the latter because 85% of households in the US have hard water.

Water falling from a shower head in a white bathroom

Hard water contains high levels of minerals and other impurities that precipitate when exposed to high temperatures. As a result, there forms a buildup around the showerhead. This can be difficult to remove when you delay cleaning.

The clogging causes some moisture to remain which encourages mold growth. Blocked showerheads also lead to low water pressure. Ignore this and your pipes will suffer, too.

To avoid all the said problems, you should find a solution to the main cause which is water quality.

How to Test Water Hardness

If you live in Las Vegas, Indianapolis, Phoenix, and Minneapolis, then there is no doubt that you have hard water. These are some of the top cities with extremely hard water. Still, if you want to be sure, then you can test for water hardness.

Soap and Water Test

You can use soap and water to test for water hardness. Hard water would not create as much fluffy bubbles and would not give clear resting water under the bubbles.

Test Kits

Alternatively, use a test kit to know the exact hardness level of your water. It can cost between $5 and $10. These kits measure the hardness level by grains per gallon. The higher the number you get, the harder your water is.

Ways to Treat Hard Water

You can reduce the occurrence of mineral buildup in your showerhead when you treat hard water. The most common procedures for treating hard water are the following:

  • ion exchange water softener
  • salt-free water conditioner
  • polyphosphate
  • electric water conditioner
  • magnetic water conditioner

How to Clean Your Shower Head

Some parts of the bathroom, like the toilet and sink, need cleaning more than once a week especially when you have kids. Fortunately for showerheads, ensuring they get appropriate attention at least once a week will go a long way.

You need an hour to soak the showerhead in a vinegar solution to remove limescale and mold and mildew. With heavy limescale buildup, you might need more than an hour. Therefore, schedule the cleaning when the shower will not be in use. 

Water falling from a shower head

So how do you clean your shower head? Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Prepare the following things for cleaning:
  • distilled white vinegar
  • plastic bag with zip closure
  • sturdy rubberband
  • toothbrush or sponge
  1. Use the toothbrush or sponge to wipe away debris from the showerhead.
  2. Fill the plastic bag with water and vinegar in equal amounts. You can use a showerhead cleaner or CLR as a substitute for vinegar.
  3. Soak the showerhead in the water-vinegar solution and secure using a rubber band.
  4. Leave it for an hour before brushing. Rinse the showerhead after.
  5. Set the water heater on a high temperature and flush out all the remaining debris.
  6. Check the water pressure and repeat the cleaning process if necessary.

Related Questions

Before we conclude this article, we’d like to answer some of the most common questions we receive about cleaning showerheads.

How Long Should You Soak Your Showerhead In Vinegar?

You should soak your showerhead in vinegar for at least an hour. For serious limescale, it might take longer. However, do not soak nickel, brass, or chrome showerheads for more than 30 minutes to avoid damaging the finish.

How Do You Use CLR On A Showerhead?

Use CLR on a showerhead in the same way you clean with a vinegar-water solution. CLR or Calcium, Lime, and Rust remover are more concentrated than vinegar. Soak the showerhead for 3 minutes and just repeat the process when necessary.


The longer you wait to clean your shower head, the more chances it will develop mold and mildew, and mineral buildup, especially when you have hard water. A serious buildup of minerals can be very difficult to remove. Clean the showerhead every week to avoid these problems. 

Allen Michael is the Founder and Editor of Home Viable, a website that he started to provide readers with tips on home efficiency and automation. He draws on his engineering background combined with his family-of-four experiences for his articles.