How To Clean A Clogged Shower Head

Last Updated on March 17, 2020 by Terry Ohara

how to clean a shower head

Having a clogged shower head is frustrating. The jets don’t work or spray wildly, the pressure is quite a bit less than it used to be, and if you have a shower head with multiple functions, some of them just don’t work anymore.

It can turn a soothing way to wash off the day, into an infuriating experience. We have all experienced this, and that is why we are here to help. With this quick and simple how-to guide to clean your shower head, we will give you the steps to restoring it to its former efficiency, and you can return to that blissful, relaxed person who luxuriates in the tranquility of its steamy warmth.

Using Just A Few Simple Steps, Your Shower Head Can Be Like New

Step 1. Removing The Shower Head

The best first step to cleaning your shower head is to remove it from the neck pipe coming through the wall. The shower head is independent of the pipe, and can be easily removed with an adjustable wrench, as long as it’s jaws open to an inch in width.

If you don’t have a large enough wrench to remove the shower head from the pipe, you can clean it while it is still attached to the neck pipe, using a large plastic bag (Ziploc bag), and a zip tie. Otherwise, part of the fitting on the shower head is flat, specifically for install and replacement purposes.

Adjust the wrench to fit the flat sections on the fitting where it meets the neck pipe. Gently twist the wrench counter-clockwise, and after about one full turn, the shower head will be loose enough to remove with your bare hands.

Detach completely and set it aside. Once it has been completely removed from the neck pipe’s threads, if you see a white, tape-like substance on the threads. Remove that and discard.

Step 2. Cleaning The Shower Head

Use a coarse sponge to scour off any loose deposits visible on the jets, and the screen inside the back of the shower head by the threads. Place the shower head in a slurry of 50% water and 50% CLR cleaner(Calcium-Lime-Rust). If you have removed the shower head, let it sit in the mix for two minutes, making sure the solution covers all the shower head jets.

After, wipe off loosened mineral deposits with a sponge. If some of the jets are still clogged, repeat with a 100% CLR bath. If CLR isn’t available, a 50/50 mix using water and white vinegar will work, but will take up to an hour to accomplish the same goal. For the most efficient cleaning solution, CLR is the way to go and it is easy to find in your hardware store’s plumbing aisle.

If you are using the method involving the plastic bag and zip tie, only use White Vinegar. A 50/50 mix, Vinegar to water, will work best in this method. Put enough Vinegar in the plastic bag, so that when the water is added, the solution will cover all the shower head jets.

Slide the bag, over the shower head, and fasten it to the neck pipe using the zip tie. Turn on the shower to a very low setting, and add enough water to the bag to cover the jets, without adding too much to dilute the Vinegar.

Leave it for a minimum of an hour, longer if possible. After you are satisfied it has done its job, remove the solution bag from the shower head, and run hot water through it to free up anything loosened by the mix.

Step 3. Re-Installing The Neck Pipe

After all the CLR or White Vinegar has been flushed through the newly cleaned shower head jets, it is time to put it back on the neck pipe. Before you start twisting the shower head on the threaded end, the application of Teflon tape will ensure there aren’t any leaks.

Cut off a four inch piece of Teflon tape, and wrap it around the threads as flat as you can, covering all the threads. It looks like it will impede threading on the shower head, but the Teflon tape will conform to the threads. Twist on the shower head, clockwise, as far as it will go.

Using your adjustable wrench, make sure it is snug on the neck pipe, being careful not to force or over-tighten it. Most shower heads are made of plastic and over-tightening can cause them to crack. If you used the plastic bag method, this step doesn’t apply.

Step 4. Finalizing The Process

Run hot water through the shower head. This will allow for any deposits not removed before to be flushed from the unit, as well as offer you the chance to ensure the threads aren’t leaking, and all the jets, and features, work. And breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that your next shower will be perfect.


In this how-to guide, we showed you two of the easiest ways, in this writer’s opinion, to properly clean a shower head. There are others that can work well enough, but they don’t do the best job if you really want that like-new power and pulse of a freshly installed shower head. Putting in the extra effort will make all the difference.

Hard water naturally has deposits of certain minerals that lead to clogs. They are small, but so are the holes in your basic shower head jet system. If you have a water softener, some of these minerals can be flushed from the water, well before they even get to your shower head.

But if you don’t, calcium and lime will reach the jets, harden, the crystallized sediment starting to clog your jets all over again. This is why cleaning your shower head regularly is so important.

If you add a good shower head cleaning to your monthly rituals, like say for instance the same day you replace your home air filter, then you will ensure you always have a great shower in the future.

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