How to Clean a Shower Head Without Vinegar in 3 Ways
Author: Anne Cowart | Editor: Omar Alonso
Review & Research: Jen Worst & Chris Miller
Are you noticing dwindling performance in your shower head? There's nothing more frustrating than your morning shower leaving you feeling less than refreshed. There could be several reasons your shower head turns from a power shower to an uninspiring trickle. Here's how to clean a shower head without vinegar.
Cleaning your shower head is one of those tasks we only seem to get around to doing once we notice it's ruining our day. Giving your shower head a good cleaning from time to time improves its performance and removes disease-causing bacteria, so adding it to your to-do list makes sense.
3 Methods to Clean a Shower Head Without Vinegar
Many homeowners clean their shower heads using white spirit vinegar since it's a great cleaner due to its high acidity. The issue is that vinegar causes a terrible smell in the shower, and it takes days to wash it off properly. Many people can't stand that.
If you want to avoid that vinegar smell in your house for the next week, we have three highly effective methods to restore the fresh blast of your shower head. Let's look at them and you can choose which to use.
Method #1 – Cleaning Your Shower Head with Multi-Purpose Cleaner
A multi-purpose cleaner is our first strategy for restoring performance and cleanliness in your shower head. We recommend using a natural, organic multi-purpose cleaner like ECOs earth-friendly liquid soap. This product contains a natural antibiotic ingredient that strips away all pathogens in your shower head, leaving it sparkling clean.
You'll need the following supplies along with the cleaner:
- 1-quart Ziploc bag
- Hot water
- Rubber band
Now proceed with the following six steps.
Step 1 – Pour the Cleaner Into a Plastic Bag
Pour some of the soap into the Ziploc bag. A 1-quart bag is usually effective for the task, but it depends on the size and shape of your types of shower heads.
Step 2 – Add Hot Water
Add hot water (not boiling water) to the soap in the bag. We recommend two cups of water to 1/8 cup of dish soap as a guideline. Shake the bag to dissolve the soap.
Step 3 – Attach the Bag to the Shower Head
Ensure the shower head is immersed in the soap, and tie the rubber band around the shower head arm a few times to prevent it from slipping off. Wait a few seconds to ensure the bag is secured around the shower head and the weight doesn't cause it to slip off. It can make a big impact from the typical shower head height, so make sure it's secure.
You also have the option of removing the shower head from the shower arm. With this method, you can fill a bucket or sink with soapy water and leave the shower head to soak without the worry of the bag slipping off the arm.
Step 4 – Give It Time to Work
We recommend letting the shower head soak in the soapy water for at least an hour for the best results. If you leave it overnight, that's even better.
Step 5 – Remove, Wipe, & Rinse
Remove the bag from the shower head and dispose of the water in the drain. ECOs dish soap is an environmentally-friendly product that won't harm the water supply. Clean off the shower head with a quick rinse and wipe it down with a rag to remove the rest of the soap. If you removed the shower head from the arm, rinse it clean under the faucet.
Step 6 – Flush the Shower Head
Turn the shower to hot and run water through the shower head for a few minutes to clear out any remaining soap. (Refit the shower head if you remove it from the shower arm).
Method #2 – Cleaning Your Shower Head with Baking Soda
Our next method involves using baking soda to clean the shower head and all types of shower faucets. Baking soda is inexpensive and non-caustic, making it safe for the task. You'll need the following supplies, along with the baking soda, to complete the cleaning task.
- A large mixing bowl
- A teaspoon
- Rubber gloves
- Warm water
Now let’s continue on through the following four steps.
Step 1 – Mix the Baking Soda Into a Paste
Start the process by mixing the baking soda with warm water to form a paste. When adding the water, the baking soda will fizz a bit, but don't worry; it settles. We recommend using ½-cup baking soda and about a tablespoon of water. The idea is to create a serum with the consistency of toothpaste. If it's too runny, add more baking soda to thicken it.
Step 2 – Work the Paste Into the Shower Head
Put on your rubber gloves and use your hands to cover the shower head in the paste. Alternatively, you can use an old toothbrush to work the paste into the jets to remove the grime and mineral deposits. If you have a fixed shower head, remove it from the shower arm if possible. If you have a handheld shower head, remove it from the mounting to make it easier to work with.
Step 3 – Give it Time to Work
We recommend leaving the paste on the shower head for 30 minutes. Don't let it dry overnight, or you'll have a tough time removing the paste. This is a great method for how to unclog a shower head without vinegar as the paste really can take action more so than liquid might.
Step 4 – Rinse, Wipe, & Flush
Keep your rubber gloves on and rinse off the shower head, using your fingers to work the paste out of the jets. If the paste is hardened, leave the shower head immersed in water in the tub or the sink if you removed it from the shower arm. If it's still connected to the shower arm, use the bag method from the previous idea to soak the head.
Rinse under the faucet and wipe down the shower head with a cloth to ensure you remove all deposits and then fit it back into the shower arm. After reconnecting the shower head, turn on the shower and let hot water blast through it for a few minutes to remove any residue. That's our second method for how to clean a shower head without vinegar. Now for the the third.
Method #3 – Cleaning the Shower Head with Coca-Cola
Do you drink Coca-Cola? We bet you never thought you could use this sweet soda to clean your shower head. Coke is a highly versatile cleaning agent. From defrosting windshields to unclogging toilets, Coke is a caustic agent that easily strips away dirt and grime (now imagine what it's doing to your teeth).
You'll need the following items for this cleaning method:
- 12oz can or bottle of Coca-Cola
- 1-quart Ziploc bag
- Rubber band
Using the following four steps, you’ll have your shower head cleaned with minimal effort.
Step 1 – Pour the Coca-Cola Into a Plastic Bag
This method is similar to the dish soap idea we covered earlier. Fill the Ziploc bag with the cola. Use the right size Ziploc to suit your shower head. Depending on your model, you might need to go bigger than a 1-quart size.
Step 2 – Secure the Bag to the Shower Head
Next, secure the bag to the shower head using the rubber band method we covered in the first idea. If possible, remove the shower head from the shower arm. Or soak a handheld shower head in the bag by placing it in the tub to prevent spilling.
Step 3 – Give It Time to Work
Coca-Cola gets to work fast. We recommend leaving the bag over the shower head for 45 minutes to an hour to get the full cleaning action for your shower head. This is the best method for how to remove limescale from a shower head without vinegar.
Step 4 – Remove the Bag, Wipe, Rinse, & Flush
Finally, remove the bag from the shower head and dump the Coca-Cola down the sink. Please don't drink it. The bacteria from the shower head will end up in the cola, and it could make you very sick if you make the mistake of drinking it.
If you removed the shower head from the arm or wall mount, rinse it clean under the faucet. If it's still on the wall, wipe it down thoroughly with a wet cloth until there's no more cola remaining. After the wipe-down, ensure the shower head is refitted properly to the shower head. Turn on the hot water to flush the jets in the shower head.
FAQ’s About Cleaning a Shower Head
A few questions always are asked when the topic of cleaning a shower head comes up. Let's cover those now. Don't be afraid to simply buy a new shower head if you want. Shower heads are generally universal so it's not really more complicated than picking one up at the store and screwing it onto the shower pipe.
What are the Benefits of a Clean Shower Head?
Most homeowners or tenants never give a second thought to cleaning their shower head until it starts underperforming or water stops coming out of the shower head altogether. Shower heads can accumulate harmful bacteria and mold that make you ill.
They also collect mineral deposits from the water flowing through the jets, creating blockages that limit jet performance and the shower experience. Cleaning your shower head keeps it sanitary and performing at peak condition.
How Often Do I Need to Clean My Shower Head?
We recommend cleaning your shower head every other month. If you live in an area with hard water, clean it every six weeks to remove the mineral deposits.
How Do I Clean My Shower Head Without Removing it From the Wall Fitting?
If you can't remove the shower head from the wall, use a toothbrush to clean it with one of the three cleaning ingredients listed in this article. Use a Ziploc bag, fill it with your preferred cleaning agent, and secure it to the shower head with a rubber band to soak the shower head.
That's How to Clean a Shower Head Without Vinegar
All three methods for cleaning your shower head work equally well. Best of all, they don't leave any lasting smell. You get a clean, fresh shower with no vinegary scent.
As a side note, we recommend tapping the shower head lightly with a mallet or screwdriver handle. This action loosens any mineral deposits that build up in the shower head cassettes (especially on rain shower head modes).
However, make sure you're careful you don't damage the shower head arm when doing this. Use a light tapping action, don't hammer it hard. Good luck, and happy showering now that you know how to clean a shower head without vinegar. No more strong stenches in your shower for you!