A Complete Guide To Descale (And Unclog!) Your Shower Head Using Vinegar

It may be surprising to realize the solution to clean your shower head was in your pantry this whole time. That’s right! Vinegar is the best household product to get rid of limescale, and here you’ll learn how to clean your shower head with it.

How to clean your shower head without detaching it

This method is more effective for fixtures with a thin limescale layer and water holes just starting to get clogged. You can jump directly to the second method for severe cases, like completely blocked water holes.

Step #1. Fill a bag with vinegar

Maybe the most difficult thing in this step is finding a plastic bag where your shower head fits. Once you get the bag, fill it halfway with vinegar so the liquid doesn’t overflow once you soak the nozzle.

Before moving on, make sure there are no leaks. All good? Then, it’s time to attach it to the shower head!

Step #2. Submerge your shower head

Cover the nozzle carefully with the vinegar bag, watching out for spills. If your shower head isn’t fully submerged, lower the bag and pour more vinegar to cover the fixture before continuing.

Once ready, use a couple of rubber bands or zip ties to secure the bag to the stem above the shower head, and leave it there for two hours.

Caution: Don’t leave brass, nickel, chrome, or gold-coated fixtures submerged for more than 30 minutes.

Step #3. Clean and rinse

Once the wait is over, remove the bag and pour the vinegar down the drain.

Then, to ensure your fixture is limescale-free, wipe and rinse it with a warm-dampened cloth. Finally, let hot water run for a couple of minutes to break down lingering buildup in the water holes.

How to thoroughly clean your shower head

Besides helping you with extreme limescale buildup, you can also carry out this method once in a while to keep your shower head in the best condition possible.

Step #1. Remove the shower head

Some shower heads can be unscrewed by hand. However, if you have already tried it to no avail, you’ll need to use an adjustable wrench.

Be careful when detaching the fixture, as tiny pieces like the filter (some shower heads also come with water regulators) can slip and fall off.

Step #2. Soak your shower head

Once removed, put the shower head in a deep container and pour vinegar until the nozzle is completely covered. If any other pieces (except the ones made of rubber) have buildup, put them in the container too.

Let everything soak for up to 24 hours while vinegar does its work—the more time you leave the nozzle and other pieces soaking, the more time vinegar has to dissolve the buildup. 

Warning: Vinegar can be corrosive for some materials, so if you have a shower head made of nickel, brass, or chrome/gold-coated, remove it from vinegar before 30 minutes to avoid damage.

Step #3. Scrub and rinse

Time’s up! To continue, remove the pieces from the container and get rid of the vinegar. Then, use a soft toothbrush to scrub off any remaining limescale on the nozzle and the other parts. A needle or a toothpick will let you take care of the deposits inside the water holes.

After you’ve scrubbed all the components, rinse them with warm water to remove crumbs.

Step #4. Reattach the fixture

Make sure all the nozzle pieces are in the right place before screwing the fixture back. Additionally, you can wrap some Teflon tape in the threaded part of the shower arm for a better grip.

After reattaching the shower head, let hot water run for a couple of minutes to eliminate lingering limescale in the water holes.

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