We’re guessing cleaning your shower head might not be your top priority right now. But research shows that bad bacteria can lurk in there — including a potentially harmful relative of the bug that causes tuberculosis — which can be especially worrisome for people with weakened immune systems.
But no matter how healthy you are, exposing yourself or your family to bad bacteria every day is something you probably want to avoid. Learning how to clean a shower head the right way will help protect your health — the sparkling bathroom you’re left with is just a bonus!
Luckily, the standard method of sudsing a shower head is pretty simple. According to The Home Depot, all you need for a basic cleaning is distilled white vinegar, a large plastic food storage bag, and either cable ties or tape.
Simply pour one cup of the white vinegar into the plastic bag. Next, place the bag over your shower head so that the appliance is submerged completely in the vinegar. Then, use the tie or tape to secure the bag in place and leave it overnight or at least for eight hours. Once the time has passed, just remove the bag and then turn your hot water on in the shower at maximum pressure to remove any leftover buildup from dirt or minerals. In most cases, that’s basically all you have to do and your work is done.
But if your shower head has so much icky buildup that it’s gotten clogged, you might need to remove your it and place it in a more intense vinegar solution. According to Consumer Reports, this modified solution varies slightly based on whether you have a metal shower head or a plastic shower head. For metal shower heads: Place it in a pot to which you’ve added a solution of one part vinegar to eight parts water. Bring the pot to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes. For plastic shower heads: Soak it in a solution that is equal parts vinegar and hot water for the same amount of time. After the cleansing is complete, put your shower head back and run the water to remove any remaining deposits.
If there are any stubborn deposits that you’re having trouble removing from the shower head with any of these cleaning methods, Bob Vila suggests using an old toothbrush to scrub the nozzle. Just be careful not to scrub the soft rubber too roughly as to not damage the nozzle.
To prevent your shower head from getting dirty in the first place, you might consider giving it a regular scrub down with a shower head cleaner, such as Lime-A-Way Lime Calcium Rust Cleaner ($12.40, Amazon) or the Durgol 0296 Universal Multipurpose Descaler/Decalcifier ($13.95, Amazon). While it might be a pain in the neck to have another thing to clean, it’ll certainly save you a lot of trouble — and possibly even health issues — down the line. Who could say no to that?
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