How To Clean Your Shower Head

Water flow issues — such as low water pressure in your kitchen faucet — can often be an easy fix. Luckily, if you’re having similar issues with your shower, you can likely fix the problem yourself. Oftentimes, if your home’s water source is a well or hard water, your shower head can get a lot of scale buildup. The solution? Clean the shower head. So follow this DIY plumbing guide to learn how to clean your shower head and improve the water pressure in your shower.

Step 1: Remove the shower head

The first step is to remove the shower head. While you may be able to unscrew the shower head by hand, it’ll likely be attached pretty tightly to the shower arm. In that case, you’ll need a pair of tongue and groove pliers and a protective cloth. Cover the base of the shower head with the cloth to prevent damaging it. Next, using the pliers, turn the shower head counter-clockwise until it loosens completely. If you find yourself using a lot of force, stabilize the shower arm with your other hand to prevent it from unthreading from the plumbing in the wall.

Step 2: Scrub the shower head

Next, clean the shower head using a scrubber sponge or a toothbrush. Depending on your shower head finish — any metal, for example — you’ll want to be careful not to scrub too hard, or else you might scratch it. This step will help remove some of the surface buildup.

Step 3: Soak the shower head in white vinegar (or CLR)

Once you’ve cleared the shower head of at least some of its surface buildup, soak it in an acidic solution for at least fifteen minutes. White vinegar is an easy at-home solution. However, for more serious scale buildup, you can buy CLR (Calcium Lime Rust Remover) from your local hardware store. Repeat this step as necessary — until the buildup is visibly gone.

Step 4: Remove the gunk from the shower arm

Before reattaching the shower head, clean the threading on the shower arm. This will properly prepare it for reinstallation. This step is often easy enough to accomplish by hand, but a toothbrush can be effective for especially sticky residue.

Step 5: Apply Teflon tape to the shower arm (optional)

For the casual DIY plumber, this step is not absolutely necessary. However, we definitely recommend it. Adding Teflon tape (or pipe dope) to the threading on the shower arm will help prevent leaks, which will improve the water pressure in your shower. Apply the tape on the threading only; this way, it will be fully concealed by the shower head.

Step 6: Reattach the shower head

Finally, you can reattach the shower head back onto the shower arm. Screw it on by hand until it’s snug. Then, following the same method in Step 1, cover the base of the shower head with a protective cloth before tightening with tongue-and-groove pliers.

Step 7: Run hot water to flush

This is the final step. Turn on the shower, running hot water, to flush the shower head of the vinegar (or CLR) and any remaining buildup. And that’s it! You’re ready to go. Enjoy your next shower.


We hope this step-by-step guide helped you. However, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We’re happy to help!

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