Buildup and hard water deposits can impact your showerhead's functionality. We asked plumbers and appliance experts how to clean it, so you can keep your bathroom fixtures in tip-top shape.

When we talk about cleaning bathroom fixtures such as showerheads, we often target a pesky issue known as buildup. But what, exactly, is that buildup made of? Hard water deposits consist of mostly calcium and magnesium minerals that exist within all water supplies, says water quality expert Brian Campbell. When these minerals collect in and around your showerhead, they leave behind a chalky residue called limescale. In addition to looking dirty, this film can impact your water pressure and become a plumbing issue. "Sooner or later, buildup can clog the holes in the showerhead and eventually become a happy home for bacteria," says plumber Gerald Carpenter.

If your showerhead is looking a little dingy, don't fret: You can avoid plumbing fiascos (and delay purchasing a replacement fixture) with a simple cleaning routine using products you likely already have at home. No matter which of the below methods you employ, know that consistency is key. "The most effective way to avoid the build up of organic matter and calcium in a showerhead is a regular cleaning schedule," explains Allan Noble of Bathroom Planet. "I'd recommend cleaning yours once per week."

sShower Head With Running Water
Credit: Mohd Hafiez Mohd Razali / EyeEm / Getty Images

Clean Your Showerhead with Vinegar

All you truly need to clean this fixture is vinegar, a plastic bag, and a toothbrush, says Carpenter. Fill a plastic bag with white vinegar, place the showerhead (still attached) into the bag, and fasten it around the piece's neck with a rubber band or elastic. "Soak it for at least four hours," Carpenter explains. "Then, remove it from the bag and run your hot water for a minute or two to wash away the now-softened deposits." Finally, use a toothbrush to scrub limescale off the face, run some hot water again, and continue scrubbing with the toothbrush if buildup is still visible. Want to go the extra mile? "Dry and polish the surface with a cloth to make it look new," Carpenter adds.

Clean Your Showerhead with Cola

Dark soda, namely Coca-Cola, is a surprisingly effective cleaning solution, Noble explains. Initially, you will follow the same steps as you would using vinegar: Pour soda into a bag and wrap it around the showerhead with a rubber band. "Let it soak for around 20 minutes," Noble says, before rinsing the soda away with a wet cloth. "Go over it with an all-purpose cleaner to remove any trace of the sugary soft drink afterwards," Noble recommends. Once that's done, turn on the shower and let it run for several minutes.

Make Your Own Showerhead Cleaning Solution

A homemade paste, consisting of baking soda and water, will also do the trick, says Lester Mclaughlin, the Vice President of Operations at Blue National HVAC. After you have combined about a half cup of baking soda with a little bit of water (enough to create a toothpaste-like consistency), spread the tacky mixture around your showerhead. "Allow it to sit for 30 minutes," Mclaughlin explains, "then gently rub the paste around with a soft cloth and rinse it off."


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