Think back to the last time that you cleaned your bathroom. You probably scrubbed the toilet, wiped down the tile, mopped the floors, and cleaned the sinks. Did you touch your shower head? For the majority of us, that answer is no. But here's why that needs to change.
Why You Should Regularly Clean Your Shower Head
It's easy to see how cleaning your shower head can become an afterthought. Mostly because, unlike dirty bathtubs, shower heads do not readily show you just how filthy they are on the inside. Mineral deposits and organic matter build up over time and can clog the holes preventing an even flow of water. If you are noticing a sudden decrease in water pressure or irregular spray patterns, then it is likely your shower head could use a good soak.
If that’s not enough reason for you, then consider the health factors. Being in a hot, humid environment, shower heads are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, mold, and other germs. Slime from an uncleaned shower head protects irritants from getting flushed out by the chlorine in the water.
A study by the University of Colorado Boulder discovered that an alarming 30% of shower heads showed significant levels of Mycobacterium Avium, a pathogen linked with pulmonary disease. It was also found that Stenotrophomonas Maltophilia favors the black gunk that can gather around shower heads and taps, a bacillus causing infections in growing frequency. Turning on your hot shower disperses these microbes into the air and makes them more easily inhaled.
How Do Shower Heads Get Dirty?
To fix the problem, it is often best to try and understand its genesis. Shower heads get dirty through a number of methods:
- An accumulation of tiny amounts of various organic matter that is found in our water
- An accumulation of tiny bits of debris that is found in our water
- An accumulation of mineral and slime that is found in our water
The common factor in all of these are the water. Unfortunately, there is no getting around it. Whether you are using city water or well water, there are going to be small things on the microscopic level that get through. And for the most part it is harmless, as long as we are making sure that we regularly clean our shower heads.
What Not to Do
While your first reaction may to reach for the bleach, resist. Scientists found that using a bleach solution to clean shower heads actually increased certain bacteria’s percentage in shower heads three-fold! There are safer, non-toxic methods to clean with that will ultimately prove more effective.
It may be equally as tempting to scour the supermarket for a chemical remedy, but that may not be in your best interest. Harsh chemicals may damage your shower head and are not recommended for cleaning by most manufacturers.
Often brut strength is a cleaning consideration. And what better way than with a rough nylon brush and some elbow grease to get the job done? Wrong! Certain powder coated finishes, like Oil Rubbed Bronze, can get scratched or lose its finish when scrubbed too vigorously.
How to Clean Your Shower Head
The procedure to clean your shower heads will greatly depend on the kind of shower head you have installed as well as the amount of debris that has accumulated. So, how do you clean your shower head?
Rub the Nozzles Clean
If you have a shower head with flexible rubber holes, you can take a shortcut and simply massage each of those nozzles with your finger. This will dislodge the debris sufficiently enough to give you good stream flow. You can also try using an old toothbrush on the holes if massaging them doesn't do enough to remedy the problem. This, however, is just a short-term solution. To clean it more thoroughly, you will need to use something a bit more heavy duty.
Clean the Shower Head with Vinegar
White vinegar is one of the most effective cleaning agents you can use for cleaning your shower head. The acids in vinegar naturally break down lime scale, rust, and other mineral deposits that have accumulated over time. Vinegar, therefore, should be your number one friend when it comes to cleaning.
There are several methods that you can employ when using vinegar to clean your shower heads:
Pour the vinegar into a plastic bag and tie it to the shower head: This method is relatively simple and used for when you don’t want to remove your shower head completely. Slip a rubber band around your shower head and then fill a plastic bag with enough white vinegar to fully submerge it. Secure the bag with the rubber band and then leave it for a few hours to soak. If you don’t have a rubber band handy, you can always use duct tape or a hair elastic, anything that will secure the bag. Once you remove the plastic bag, run hot water through the shower head to dislodge the debris.
If you are having stubborn stain issues or residual buildup that hasn’t quite released, use a toothbrush (or a toothpick for those intricate areas) to further scrub your shower head.
Dismantle the shower head and soak in vinegar: This is by far the most effective method of cleaning your shower heads. Dismantle the shower head and submerge all the pieces in a bucket of warm water and white vinegar. Soak them for 3 hours to overnight. Just like with the bag method, you can use an old toothbrush to ensure that all the debris is removed from the shower head holes before re-assembling. Give a good rinse with warm water and then replace the shower head good as new.
Bonus: use a mixture of baking soda and white vinegar: You can step up the above method by mixing the vinegar with baking soda. This creates a reaction that causes the vinegar to rapidly bubble up and form carbonic acid, an excellent natural cleaning agent that will get the debris right off the shower head. To use, add baking soda to either method mentioned above.
How Often Should You Clean Your Shower Head?
Experts advise that you should give your shower head a thorough cleaning at least once a month, but regular weekly cleanings are the key in preventing the serious buildup.
For hassle free cleaning, simply spray your shower head with a vinegar-based cleaning solution every week as you are getting out of the shower. This will help prevent large buildups of calcium and keep that slime away so you don’t have a breeding ground for bacteria and mold.
How to Reduce Mineral Build Up In Your Water
Some areas of the United States have harder water than others - meaning there are high levels of minerals and dissolved solids. These minerals cause the build up in your shower head that lower your shower head pressure.
An easy fix is adding an inline shower head filter. These filters are designed to reduce the amount of mineral deposits, scale and chlorine in your water. Not only will they make your shower head last longer but the filtered water will leave you with healthier skin and hair.
Try the Sprite Inline Shower Head Filter for an easy way to add the benefits of an inline water filter without having to replace your existing shower head. That said, you'll still want to follow a shower head cleaning routine to remove the other types of bacteria that an inline filter can't help with.
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