How to Clean a Showerhead Without Removing It

Finally—a way to tackle that annoying drip-drip-drip! Learn how to clean a showerhead (or any faucet) using vinegar.

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Your showerhead is one of those places in your home that needs deep cleaning that you likely forget about. Whether it’s from hard water or just long-term use, calcium can cause white deposits that look bad and can eventually clog your showerhead and affect the flow of water.

Here’s how to clean a showerhead and get back to enjoying a soothing downpour.

How to Clean a Showerhead

Tools You’ll Need

  • White vinegar
  • Quart-size food storage bag
  • Rubber bands
  • Toothbrush


Step 1: Fill the bag with vinegar

Fill the quart-size bag with about a cup of vinegar (there should be enough to fully submerge your showerhead). Most of the buildup on your showerhead will be calcium deposits from hard water, and the acidity of vinegar is the strongest weapon against that kind of buildup. It’s also completely safe to use around kids and pets.

Vinegar is a natural cleaner to keep on hand for all sorts of purposes.

Step 2: Cover showerhead with bag

Carefully lift the bag of vinegar and place it over your showerhead so it’s completely submerged in the liquid. Use a rubber band (or several, if needed) to secure the bag to the showerhead, keeping the head submerged and preventing any vinegar from leaking out. Plastic zip-ties will also work.

Step 3: Soak

Allow the showerhead to soak in the vinegar for at least an hour. The more buildup on your showerhead, the longer it needs to soak. You can even leave it on overnight if needed.

Step 4: Scrub and rinse

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Remove the rubber band and bag. Using an old toothbrush, scrub away any remaining residue; then turn on the showerhead to rinse away the vinegar.

More Ways to Clean a Showerhead

How to Clean a Showerhead Without Vinegar

If you don’t have vinegar on hand, you can clean your showerhead with baking soda. Make a paste with baking soda and water and apply it directly to the showerhead. Let the paste sit for about 30 minutes, then scrub with a wet toothbrush. The abrasive cleaning power of baking soda will help break up the hard water deposits. Rinse by turning on the shower.

Another tried-and-true cleaning product is CLR Calcium, Lime & Rust Remover. In a large bowl, make a 50/50 mixture of CLR and water. Hold the bowl so that the showerhead is completely submerged, and let it soak for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the bowl and use a toothbrush to scrub away any remaining gunk. Rinse by turning on the shower and letting it run for at least a minute.

How to Deep-Clean a Clogged Showerhead

If your showerhead is in extremely bad shape with dripping water instead of a steady stream, you’ll need to disassemble the showerhead for a deep clean. Don’t worry, it’s not as difficult as it sounds!

Use a wrench to loosen the nut that connects the showerhead to the feed pipe, then use your hands to unscrew the showerhead completely. Once the showerhead is removed, you can use a flathead screwdriver or a pair of needle nose pliers to dislodge the filter from the showerhead.

To clean the filter, rinse it with running water first. Then, scrub it with a toothbrush and an all-purpose bathroom cleaner, or soak it in vinegar to remove any remaining debris.

Like the plastic bag method, you’ll want to use vinegar for the showerhead—but this time you can submerge the showerhead in a bowl. Fill a bowl with vinegar and place the showerhead in the liquid. Allow it to soak for up to 8 hours, then rinse with water.

Don’t miss our list of shower cleaning hacks for a bathroom that’s spick-and-span!

How to Prevent Hard Water Buildup

If you live in an area with particularly hard water, here are a few more tips to keep your showerhead looking shiny and new:

  • To avoid water stains, wipe down the showerhead after each use to remove any water droplets.
  • Try removing existing water stains on the showerhead or shower handle by rubbing half a lemon over the surface, then wipe, rinse and dry.
  • Some showerheads have flexible rubber spray holes. Dislodge mineral buildup by firmly massaging each spray hole with your finger.

Erica Young
Erica is a cleaning and home décor expert. She knows exactly how to tidy a filthy kitchen and straighten out a mixed-up pantry! When she's not writing you'll find her organizing a closet, buying more bins she doesn't need or bingeing her latest TV show obsession.