Best way to clean a showerhead - all you need is one store cupboard essential

Remove limescale and make your showerhead sparkle with our cleaning tips

Pink shower with golden shower head
(Image credit: Future PLC/Dan Duchars)

Showerheads can often fall prey to mould and mildew, which is why it's essential to know the best way to clean a showerhead so you can rid your bathroom of muck and keep it in squeaky-clean condition. 

A showerhead with limescale is unsightly, and a sure way to distract you from the rest of your beautiful bathroom. Learning how to clean a showerhead will produce sparkling results and keep any shower room ideas looking their best.

'An area of the shower that is often forgotten in the cleaning process is the showerhead', says Rikki Fothergill, Bathroom Style Expert, Big Bathroom Shop. 'Holes in the shower get clogged, and this can affect the water flow and effectiveness of the shower in general.'

'Dirt and limescale can quickly make your shower head look unsightly as well as restrict the flow of water, so regular cleaning is essential,' agrees Emily Barron, Cleaning Expert, Rezigo.

White bathroom walls with overhead silver shower and wall attachment

(Image credit: BC Designs and Simply Bathrooms (Surrey))

Best way to clean showerhead

If your showerhead is showing signs of limescale build-up, follow the steps below to learn how to clean a showerhead properly. Neglect is a sure-fire way to ensure you're faced with learning how to fix a leaky showerhead, so it pays to keep on top of your cleaning. 

You may have already guessed that the main cleaning agent you'll need is white vinegar. If you haven't yet got a bottle of this store cupboard essential, it's best to grab some before you begin. The cleaning with vinegar possibilities are endless, not to mention cost-effective too.

You will need

  • Toothbrush
  • Microfibre cloth
  • Bowl of hot soapy water
  • White vinegar 
  • Plastic bag - one large enough to fit the showerhead in
  • Elastic band

1. Remove the showerhead

Removing the showerhead from the hose before you begin the cleaning process will make everything a lot easier, so you don't have to reach up at an awkward angle. 

'When you do this, be careful to keep hold of the rubber washer which stops water from dripping from the joint', says Emily.

Some showerheads are fixed to the hose and can't be removed. Don't worry if this is the case for you, just follow the steps below with the showerhead still attached.

2. Scrub away debris with a toothbrush

White shower room with silver and white shower

(Image credit: Triton Showers)

The best way to clean the showerhead starts with an old toothbrush. The bristles on toothbrushes are ideal for getting in the nozzles of the showerhead, and giving the head a good scrub will remove any rogue debris.

Alternatively, you could consider investing in a sonicscrubber, available on Amazon for £18.99, they are brilliant for tackling jobs like this quickly. 

3. Clean with hot soapy water

Using a microfibre cloth, give the showerhead a good clean with hot soapy water. This should be done on a regular basis, preferably once a week, to prevent limescale and soap residue from building up. 

'If your showerhead has a brushed finish, always clean the showerhead 'along the grain' of the scratch pattern', advises Paul Illingworth, Designer Manager, Abode. 'Rinse thoroughly afterwards, and pat dry.'

4. Fill your bag with vinegar

Bottle of vinegar being used to clean around bathroom sink, grey wall tiles with white grouting

(Image credit: Rezigo)

Reach for your white vinegar and pour it in to your plastic bag until it is half full. If you have a brass showerhead, it's best to dilute the vinegar with water to avoid damaging the metalwork.

5. Submerge and secure the showerhead

contemporary showerhead in tiled shower area

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

Place the showerhead into the bag of vinegar (or if your showerhead is still attached to the hose, place the bag around the showerhead), making sure the vinegar is covering the whole head. Tie an elastic band around the neck of the head to secure the bag in place.

6. Leave to soak

Leave the showerhead to soak in the vinegar for an hour. This is the best way to clean a showerhead because the vinegar can work to break down any limescale that has built up. You can leave the showerhead to soak for up to two hours if you feel your showerhead is in need of a more thorough clean. 

'Note that while white vinegar will not damage most shower heads, brass units can be susceptible to staining so make sure that you do not soak these for longer than half an hour,' adds Emily.

7. Remove and rinse

After an hour, untie the plastic bag and remove the showerhead. Turn the shower on to flush out any remaining vinegar and residue. If there's a lot of residue left sitting on the head, wipe away with a microfibre cloth or go back in with the toothbrush.

8. Reattach the head

white tiled shower with showerhead

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

Reattach the showerhead to the hose if necessary. And that's it! Your showerhead should be looking shiny and new again.

What is the best way to clean a showerhead?

Soaking in white vinegar is the best way to clean the showerhead, as the vinegar is a powerfully active chemical ideal for breaking down limescale. 'To keep your shower head clean and prevent blockages, it’s a good idea to get into the habit of following this process once a month for the best results,' Emily says.

Note though that the need to soak the showerhead in vinegar will be less frequent if you keep on top of cleaning the showerhead regularly when cleaning the bathroom.  ‘Deep cleaning should be seen as the last option, and you should start with less aggressive methods first,' says Paul. 'Start off by absorbing as much contaminate as possible with kitchen roll, then rinse with lots of hot water.'

Then you can clean the showerhead with hot soapy water and a soft cloth. Do this weekly, and there shouldn't be a lot of limescale build-up on the showerhead. Reserve the vinegar soaking method for those deep, every once in a while cleans. 

Black framed shower with shower head

(Image credit: Future PLC / Heather Gunn)

How long should you soak a showerhead in vinegar?

The length of time you should soak your showerhead in vinegar depends on the amount of limescale that has built up. If you can only see small traces of limescale, soak the showerhead for 30 minutes to an hour. If there's a lot, leave it for longer.

'A simple fix for breaking down limescale is to remove the showerhead, insert into a sealable plastic bag or container and fully immerse in vinegar for two hours,' says Tina Simpson, Marketing Director, Triton Showers. Two hours is the best way to clean a showerhead, as it gives the vinegar long enough to break down an excessive amount of scale. 

Cleaning expert Emily adds, 'while white vinegar will not damage most shower heads, brass units can be susceptible to staining so make sure that you do not soak these for longer than half an hour.'

Pink tiled bathroom with silver shower

(Image credit: Methven)

How do you clean a showerhead without vinegar?

If you're wondering how to clean a showerhead without vinegar, the next best cleaning product to get the job done is baking soda. Baking soda is another powerfully active ingredient that will effectively decompose limescale and soap residue. 

'To clean a showerhead without vinegar, simply mix baking soda with warm water to create a thick paste,' says Karl Huckerby, CEO, Spare and Square. 'Specific measurements aren’t necessary, but ensure that the paste is thick enough and not watery. If it’s too watery, add more baking soda, and if it’s too dry, add more water.'

Once the paste is to a toothpaste consistency, lather the paste on the showerhead and completely cover it. If you're using your hands, wear gloves to eliminate any irritation, or use a gentle brush to smooth the paste on and get into all the water holes.

'Make sure to cover the showerhead completely with the paste, before leaving it for around half an hour,' says Karl. 'If there are some difficult blockages or stains in your showerhead, feel free to leave the paste on for longer.'

Once the time is up, rinse the showerhead under a warm water tap, or clean the paste off manually by using a wet, clean cloth. You can then turn your shower on to flush away any remaining bits of paste. 

Katie Sims

Katie Sims has been writing for Ideal Homes since spring 2022. She qualified from her Master’s in Media and Journalism in 2021 and has been writing freelance since. She has worked on Ideal Home’s ecommerce team where she researched the best home products on the market, and on the news team, researching the latest trends for feature pieces.