7 Easiest Ways To Clean Your Shower Head

There are enough places to worry about keeping up with as a homeowner. Everywhere you turn, there's a corner with too many unswept crumbs, a ceiling fan with too much dust, a couch with too much pet hair, and a lawn that needs mowing before the rain comes. And despite the bathroom being one of the of the most bacteria-laden areas of the home — ironically enough, less so than the kitchen (ew) — the shower head doesn't always make the cut when it comes to spring cleaning (or summer, or fall). It's one of those things that you remember to clean when it, well, breaks.

According to cleaning company RocketMaids, however, cleaning your shower head should be a seasonal priority. If you can't get to it every four months, you have about a two-month window before you should really get in there and clean the gunk and hard water buildup. After six months, you may run into plumbing issues, advises Apartment Therapy.

There's just one catch: When you do make time for this often neglected task, you'll want to skip the bleach. Scientists discovered that using bleach to clean your shower head may as much as triple the amount of bacteria present, reports the Shower Head Store. So what can you use? We're here to break down some of the best products to bring your shower head back up to speed.

1. Soak your shower head in vinegar

If you're one of those people who likes to passively clean (we're looking at you, Roomba owners), then you're in luck: One of the most effective ways to clean your shower head requires very little effort, attention, and it does all of the work for you.

You'll need an elastic band or strong, waterproof tape, a Ziploc baggie, and some white or apple cider vinegar. Fill the plastic bag about halfway with the vinegar, then submerge the attached shower head in the bag. Secure it with the elastic band, or tape it closed to prevent any liquid from leaking out. Next, you can gently turn on the shower to fill the remainder of the bag with water, which should cover 100% of the shower head. Be warned, though — too much water pressure may result in a minor explosion of vinegar, so fill the bag slowly!

Next comes the best part: Set it and forget it. You can leave the shower head to soak for at least one hour, depending on the severity of the situation. Once your timer goes off, detach the bag from the shower head and pour the liquid down the drain, advises cNet. It should be good as new, but repeat as necessary.

2. Clean your shower head with baking soda paste

No vinegar? No problem! We're willing to bet you have another household staple or two laying around that can do the dirty work for you. All you need is some water and baking soda — and considering we're in the bathroom here, half of that's already at your disposal! Morning Chores suggests mixing water with the baking soda to form a thick paste that's not too watery, but not too clumpy, either. Coat the shower head with the mixture generously — don't be afraid to cover the nozzles, since that's usually where most of the build up occurs. After half an hour, rinse the shower head with some water and turn it on to see your results!

If you're looking for a bit of extra shine or cleaning power, Taste of Home also recommends mixing about four or five drops of dish soap with two tablespoons of baking soda and some vinegar to really deep clean the shower head. You can even submerge it in a bag like in option one!

3. Don't be afraid to use toothpicks and brushes on your shower head

You can use everything from a sponge to a microfiber cloth to clean your shower head, but when it comes to getting into the nitty gritty of those stubborn nozzles, you'll appreciate a few tools to help. General Plumbing explains that it's perfectly safe to use toothpicks to help remove any gunk and debris caked into your shower head, so long as you're gentle in doing so. Since they're short, they won't do any damage to the internal part of the shower head, and they'll help remove anything clogging the holes!

Another option is to regularly go in with a toothbrush or a non-abrasive scrub brush. In order to minimize the hassle of cleaning later on, TikTok user @shannen_castro shares her favorite hack: Leave a stand-up brush filled with Dawn dish soap and vinegar in the shower at all times. That way, you can scrub everything down more frequently, and pretend it's a microphone while you belt out your favorite shower-worthy tunes — it's a win-win.

4. Clean chrome shower heads with lemon

As with most home DIY projects, whether they're simple spring cleaning tasks or major renovations, it's always important to do your research before getting started. In this case, you'll want to make sure that the method you use to clean your shower head won't ruin its finish. For example, even though vinegar is a great natural cleaner, it may eat at some more vulnerable metals over long periods of time, like chrome. The same goes for some commercial cleaners — always double-check that it's safe to use the product in question before you let your shower head soak!

If you have a chrome shower head, then there's another natural option that can do the trick, says Simply Maid: Take a lemon and slice it in half, then squeeze it into a bowl and dilute it with some warm water. You can then use the actual pith of the lemon to wipe down and scrub at the shower head with this acidic mixture, which acts as a great cleaner in place of some more aggressive options. This method gets bonus points for being a tool and a cleaning solution in one, if you ask us.

5. Opt for oven cleaner for hard-hit shower heads

This one's not for the faint of heart (we mean it — you could faint without the right precautions), but if your shower head has gone untouched for too long, it may be necessary to pull out the big guns. Before running to the store to grab a commercial grade cleaner, check your cleaning supplies for oven cleaner. The formula is similar and will give the same results, but be prepared to take the adequate safety steps if you go this route.

Morning Chores warns that you'll need both a mask and gloves due to the strength of the chemical cleaner, especially when used in a small area like the bathroom. Once you've suited up, spray the cleaner on the shower head and let it sit for no longer than 20 minutes, then give it a thorough rinse. That should do the trick to degunking those nasty nozzles once and for all!

6. Crack open a Coca-Cola to wash your shower head

Some may be shocked at this cleaning hack, but for those who've questioned what exactly is in Coca-Cola all these years, this may come as no surprise at all. The beloved soda is actually a highly recommended solution to bring your shower head back to life again!

Coke has a pH balance of 2.0, meaning that it's highly acidic. The phosphoric acid in the soda allows it to break down stains, which is why you see Coke recommended so frequently as a last-minute DIY cleaning hack. Since hard water buildup can cause all sorts of stains around the edge of your shower head, Coke is a great option to bring back some of that shine, as noted by Morning to Bed.

Simply swap the vinegar mixture in option one with some of the soda instead, and attach the liquid-filled bag to the shower head. Let the shower head soak for at least 30 minutes before removing the bag. Give it a good rinse and you'll be good to go, with significantly less signs of hard water wear on your shower head.

7. Save your shower head with some WD-40

Any homeowner who's been through the trouble of a loud door hinge has some WD-40 stashed away for the next creaky situation — that's a fair bet. But the classic lubricant has more value than just fixing annoying squeaks. Believe it or not, but WD-40 can clean your shower head, too!

According to the company's website, you should only bring out the WD-40 if you're dismantling the shower head to give it a deep clean. Once you unscrew the shower head, give the nozzle a good spray of the WD-40 to loosen up any minerals, dirt, and hidden bacteria that may be lodged up in there. You may need to go back in with a brush or toothpick to fully remove some of the debris, but the heavy-duty cleaner should do most of the heavy lifting here.

Be sure to fully clean the shower head with soap and water after so that there's no trace chemicals left behind. That way, once you step back under your sparkling and pristine shower head, you can actually enjoy some time to relax — you've earned it!