Cleaning your showerhead is one of those small tasks that often gets put off or forgotten, but it makes a HUGE difference. Aside from improved water pressure, it also has significant health benefits. One of the most common ways to clean your shower head involves vinegar, but if you don’t have that on hand, don’t worry, you have other options.
You can clean a shower head without vinegar using 3 common household items. Specifically, you can use baking soda, Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap, or even Coca-Cola. The steps to cleaning your shower head with each of these 3 ingredients are pretty simple and can easily be repeated once you know them.
In this article, we’ll outline step-by-step how to clean your shower head with each of these different methods, and then we’ll go into more detail on why you need a clean shower head in the first place. Let’s cover the baking soda approach first.
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Table of Contents
How to Clean a Shower Head Without Vinegar
One option instead of vinegar is to use a commercial cleaning solution such as CLR which is made specifically to get rid of calcium deposits and hard water stains.
Here’s the tutorial about how to clean your showerhead with CLR from their website.
However, if you want to avoid using harsh chemicals, below we have three ways you can clean your shower head without using white vinegar or an abrasive cleaning product.
You can clean it using baking soda, using Dr. Bronners, and even using Coca-Cola.
We’ll go over each one so you can decide which way is best for you. Let’s get cleaning!
1. How to Clean a Shower Head with Baking Soda
From baking cookies to absorbing odors, baking soda (also known as sodium bicarbonate) is not only versatile but inexpensive. I’ve used it for cleaning my stovetop and cookie sheets, but it also works well for cleaning the gunk off your shower head.
- A small spoon
- ½ cup of baking soda
- Rubber gloves
1.1 Create a Paste
Start by creating a paste by using your spoon to mix ½ cup of baking soda with warm water in a bowl. You don’t need to use a precise amount of water, but the result should be a thick paste.
If it is too runny, add more baking soda and stir until you get a consistency similar to toothpaste. And, if it’s dusty or chunky, add more water.
1.2 Cover Showerhead with Paste
Put on rubber gloves to avoid irritating your skin, and using your hands, cover your entire shower head with the baking soda paste. Repeat step one to create more paste if there is not enough to completely cover your shower head.
For handheld shower heads, remove them from their mount before covering them with the paste, and let them sit on the floor of your tub or stall.
1.3 Wait 25 Minutes
Leave the baking soda paste on your shower head for about 25 minutes. Be sure to time this as it can be difficult to clean if you let it sit for much longer!
If you’re fully into bathroom cleaning mode, then you could start by applying the baking soda paste to your shower head, and then go wipe down the sink (or toilet!) while you wait.
1.4 Wipe and Rinse
Using your rubber gloves, clean the paste off of your shower head. If it’s mounted to the wall, wet your dish cloth with warm water, and wipe it around your shower head to remove the paste and any remaining mineral deposits.
For showerheads that need a good scrub, you can use an old toothbrush and really clean the holes in the showerhead.
If your showerhead is removable, you could also rinse it with water under your faucet.
1.5 Turn on Shower
Last but not least, you’ll want to run the water through your freshly cleaned showerhead, to remove any paste or residue that may still be stuck in the water holes.
If you removed the showerhead in order to clean it, you’ll want to put it back in place, and then turn on the hot water for a minute or two.
2. How to Clean a Shower Head with Dr. Bronner’s
Dr. Bronner’s is a popular multi-purpose cleaner, that is known for its natural ingredients, and variety of uses. They list 18 different uses on their bottle, so it’s a great thing to include in your stash of cleaning supplies.
- Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap (about 1/8 cup for every 2 cups water)
- Hot water
- Plastic bag (1 qt Ziploc bag will work for most showerheads)
- Rubber band/twist tie
And here’s what you do:
2.1 Pour Soap in Plastic Bag
Start by pouring a bit of Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap into your plastic bag. I recommended a 1-qt bag, but be sure to check and see that the bag will fit around your shower head, especially if you have a big one!
2.2 Add Water
Add hot water to the bag to form a soapy mixture. Roughly 2 cups of water for every 1/8 cup of soap will do. No need to bust out your measuring cups – eyeballing them should be fine.
2.3 Attach Bag to Showerhead
Wrap a rubber band over your shower head a few times so that it sits tightly around the water pipe. Place your plastic bag so that your entire shower head is immersed in the mixture of soap and water.
Slide the top edges of your plastic bag underneath the rubber band so that the bag is securely wrapped around the shower head. Be sure it’s secured before stepping away.
If you remove your shower head from its mount or pipe, such as with a handheld shower head or by twisting the shower head counterclockwise, you can also fully submerge it in a bowl with Dr. Bronner’s soap and water instead of securing a plastic bag around it.
2.4 Wait 30 Minutes
Let your shower head soak in the soapy mixture for about 30 minutes. That’s enough time for me to grab a quick lunch or watch an episode of Parks and Rec (multi-tasking for the win!).
2.5 Remove Bag from Showerhead
Remove your plastic bag and soapy mixture from the showerhead, and dispose of it by pouring it down the drain. We won’t be needing this anymore.
2.6 Wipe and Rinse
If your showerhead is mounted to the wall, wet your dishcloth with warm water, and use it to clean the soap off of your showerhead and remove any remaining mineral deposits. If you remove your shower head to clean it, you can rinse it with water under your faucet.
2.7 Turn on Shower
Again, you’ll want to run hot water to remove any soap and residue still stuck in the water holes. If you pull your shower head to clean it, put it back in place, and then turn on the hot water for a minute or two.
3. How to Clean a Shower Head With Coca-Cola
While I don’t drink Coke regularly, I’ve heard that it can be used for defrosting windshields and cleaning. Who knew?! Turns out that you can also use Coke to clean your shower head.
12oz can of Coca-Cola
- Plastic bag (1 qt Ziploc bag will work for most showerheads)
- Rubber band
Here’s what you do:
3.1 Pour Coke in a Plastic Bag
Start by pouring a can of Coke into your plastic bag. I recommended a 1-qt bag, but be sure to check and see that the bag will fit around your showerhead as we will be soaking the showerhead in the bag.
3.2 Attach Bag to Showerhead
Similar to the method with soap, wrap a rubber band over your showerhead so that it’s tight around the water pipe. Place your plastic bag so that your entire shower head is soaked in the Coke.
Slip the top edges of your plastic bag underneath the rubber band so that the bag is solidly wrapped around the showerhead. Make sure the bag is secured before stepping away. If you decide to remove your showerhead from its mount or pipe, you can also soak it in a bowl with the Coke instead of securing a plastic bag around it.
3.3 Wait 30 Minutes
Let your shower head sit in the bag of Coke for about 30 minutes. You won’t need to sit and watch it, but it might be good to check up on it a few times to make sure the bag is still secure, and Coke’s not splattered all over your tub.
3.4 Remove Plastic Bag from Showerhead
Remove the Coca-Cola from your shower head, and dispose of it by pouring the Coke down the drain. For any die-hard Coke fans, please don’t drink it.
3.5 Wipe and Rinse
If it’s still mounted to the wall, wet your dishcloth with warm water and use it to wipe and remove the stickiness from the Coke and any remaining mineral deposits. If you remove your shower head to clean it, you can rinse it with water under your faucet.
3.6 Turn on Shower
As with all the methods mentioned, you’ll want to run water through your showerhead to remove any Coke and remaining deposits stuck in the holes. If you removed the showerhead to clean it, you’ll want to put it back in place, and then turn on the hot water for a few minutes.
Benefits of a Clean Showerhead
Most people never (or very seldom) clean their showerheads. That’s gross. Don’t be like them. Here’s a couple of reasons why it is CRITICAL to regularly clean your showerhead:
- Showerheads can accumulate mold and harmful bacteria that can make you sick
- Showerheads can get clogged with mineral buildup and soap scum, which can reduce the water pressure or even stop the water flow completely
A showerhead is a great place for disease-causing bacteria to grow. When we take showers, any bacteria in the showerhead may get on our bodies. This could especially affect people with weakened immune systems.
If your home water has a lot of heavy metals in it, using a water softener is a great way to reduce hard water buildup.
By cleaning your shower head, you can remove that bacteria and lessen your chances of getting sick. Not to mention the fact that you will improve your water pressure and get to enjoy a nice, relaxing shower.
When to Replace Your Showerhead
Cleaning your shower head is not only a great way to remove harmful bacteria, but it’s also a great way to make it last longer. But, at some point, you still need to replace your shower head.
Most places will tell you to replace your showerhead every 6-8 months. However, this is for people who don’t clean their showerheads. With regular cleaning, your shower head can last much longer.
According to Stone Stream, here are some warning signs that you need to get a new showerhead:
- Leaks between the water pipe and showerhead
- Hard water buildup you can’t remove by cleaning
- Sudden temperature and water pressure fluctuations
- Mold and mildew in the tiny holes or cracks that you can’t remove by cleaning
- Want a more water-efficient shower head
If any of these things relate to your shower head then it’s time to get a new one.
Here is a great new showerhead option from Amazon (affiliate link!) that’s water efficient and has a built-in filter to reduce hard water and mineral build-up on the shower head and in the shower.
To learn how to replace your showerhead and some more information about when to replace your showerhead, check out my other post here.
How Often Should I Clean My Showerhead?
You should thoroughly clean your showerhead at least once a month. If you live in an area with hard water, this should be done even more often. The reason this is important is that showerheads can accumulate minerals and bacteria over time, which can reduce water pressure or even make you sick.
How Do You Clean A Showerhead Without Removing It?
You can clean your showerhead without removing it from its water pipe by gently scrubbing it with a toothbrush and running the hot water. For deeper cleaning, secure a plastic bag filled with vinegar and water to the showerhead with a rubber band. Let it soak for a few hours, remove the bag, and then run the water.