You’re taking a shower one day and you notice something funny, the water feels different than it usually does!
What gives? After you’re done, you take a look at the shower head.
To your surprise, it’s coated with all kinds of gunk!
What do you do? Should you get a new one?
In this article, we’ll discuss multiple ways of how you can clean shower heads and the rubber nozzles within them.
How Dirty Shower Head Nozzles Happen
First, we have to understand why shower heads become clogged with all sorts of undesirable stuff over time.
All the water we use to bathe in contains various traces of minerals such as calcium.
Over time, these calcium deposits can build up and form visible mineral residues, especially in places that experience lots of flowing water every day.
And if there’s a significant amount of iron in your shower head, constant exposure to water will form brown and red rust spots.
Not only that, but in hotter and humid environments, mold, mildew, and bacteria can also grow if ignored for too long.
Easy Ways To Clean Rubber Shower Head Nozzles
Once you notice that the nozzles on your shower head are dirty, it is hard to ignore.
And you want the best possible shower without wasting water, right?
Below we’ve got some easy ways for you to clean those shower head nozzles.
Use Your Hands
If your shower has rubber nozzles on them, cleaning the minerals off may be as simple as giving them a solid rubbing.
I do this all the time in my shower where we have hard water and the limescale buildup happens regularly.
Plus, doing this means you won’t have to do any deep cleaning!
You’ll need to “massage” each one with your finger, which will encourage the gunk to come off.
That way, you won’t need to buy any special chemicals anytime soon.
Try Soaking White Vinegar
If that gunk is being way too stubborn, you’ll need to move onto the next step.
This is not to suggest you should drive on down to the nearest store for a can of rubber cleaner (we’ll touch up on that topic later), as you probably already have the solution sitting in your cabinet somewhere at home.
The answer is vinegar.
This substance will react with most mineral build-ups, such as calcium, and dissolve it off your shower head.
Remove your showerhead from the pipe.
Be sure to turn off the appropriate valves first to prevent any water from gushing out.
Get a bowl large enough to fit the shower head into, and fill it up with vinegar (at least enough so the minerals are submerged).
Wait for several hours. Usually, it can take two or more for the vinegar to do its job.
After most or all the mineral build up is gone, rinse off the head, screw it back on, and run the water for two or more minutes to clear out any remaining vinegar.
Bag It Up For A Serious Cleaning
If removing the shower head doesn’t sound ideal, then fear not, there’s another technique you can try.
You’ll need the vinegar, a plastic bag, and something to tie it with (rubber band, string, whatever works).
First, fill the bag with vinegar so that it will cover the entire shower head.
Next, slip it over the shower head and tie it on. Leave it there for a few hours to soak.
Once you’re satisfied with the mineral removal, remove the bag.
Run the water for several minutes to remove any excess vinegar.
Don’t Forget The Filter Screens!
Some shower heads come with filter screens.
If you don’t notice any mineral build up and the water flow seems a bit off, the screen may be the issue.
To access it, you’ll have to remove the shower head from the pipe.
There might be a “pivot ball” that you’ll have to pick the screen out of.
If you’re lucky, the build-up may be clearly visible, and can be removed with some tweezers or even your fingers.
If the minerals or whatever proves too stubborn to remove, try using a toothbrush and/or vinegar treatment.
Last Resort: All Purpose Cleaner
Should you have no vinegar available, check to see if you have any all-purpose bathroom cleaner instead.
However, be wary of any chemicals that contain ketones, components that are known to degrade and dissolve rubber.
Acetone is a common one to avoid.
Letting the shower head soak in the cleaner may not be enough.
You’ll need some rubber gloves, a soft nylon brush (toothbrushes work great!), and some old-fashioned elbow grease to get rid of any mineral build-ups and stains.
To make things easier for you, you’ll need to remove the shower head before getting to work.
When scrubbing the cleaner onto the nozzles, avoid brushing too hard to prevent damage.
Also, if your shower head has chrome in it, avoid any strong chemicals that may cause discoloration.
Scrub the entire shower head plus the screen filter if there is one.
Once you’re done, rinse it all off and re-attach.
Run the shower for a few minutes to test it.
Preventing Dirty Rubber Shower Head Nozzles
If your shower head is flowing fine, but you want to give it a good cleaning anyway, you can try out some warm and soapy water.
Whether you remove the shower head or not is up to you at this point, but at least grab a soft cloth and container to put the cleaning solution in.
Soak the cloth in soapy water, and scrub away at any areas you want to clean.
This may or may not remove certain stains depending on what caused them in the first place.
If you have it, you can also use some rubbing alcohol.
Whereas it may not completely remove any calcium build-up, it will be effective at killing off any mold or mildew that may be growing in and around your shower head.
Taking your shower head off and letting it soak in alcohol will be way more effective than simply rubbing it on.
Another method for shower head cleaning is using baking soda in combination with vinegar.
You can apply these cleaners either with a bowl or a bag.
Follow the steps regarding vinegar mentioned earlier, but this time add some baking soda to the whole mixture.
To get the full effect, let the entire thing soak overnight.
Doing so will not only help get rid of mineral build-up, but can help clean hardy stains as well.
After a night-long soak, give your shower head a nice hard scrubbing.
Rinse it all off, put it back on (if you removed the shower head beforehand), test, and voila!
If any of the methods we’ve discussed here worked, then congratulations!
You successfully cleared out and cleaned your shower head. However, the work isn’t over yet.
To prevent mineral build-up from causing the same problems again, it’s recommended that you clean off your shower head at least once a month.
Doing so will prevent minerals such as lime scale from coming back, which could foster bacteria growth.
Fortunately, with the deep cleaning you already did, you may only need to give the rubber nozzles a quick finger scrub to remove any excess build-up.
If you scrub and soak and still have no luck, you should probably replace your shower head.
Also, don’t forget about the rest of your bathroom!
If your showerhead had gross stuff growing inside it, that’s a sign that mold, mildew, and bacteria could be festering elsewhere.
Keep your bathroom surfaces such as your sink, floor, bathtub, and toilet clean on a regular basis.
You can also use vinegar as a cleaning solution if you choose.
The acidity in vinegar is very effective at killing tiny, harmful organisms (but don’t use it on marble! It will degrade).
image: Steven Zolneczko, Flickr, CC 2.0