Vinegar Alternatives For Cleaning a Shower Head

Alex Mcil author
Alex Mcil

Has the water from your shower head been going in all directions lately? Perhaps the water flow has become so weak that your shower has taken longer than usual to complete? This is an easy problem to solve. It’s likely that your shower head is clogged by minerals, and hasn’t been cleaned lately. This, however, does not mean you need to purchase a new one. Before you head to the store to get a brand new shower head, try deep cleaning your shower head first! While this link specifically addresses cleaning shower tiles, the principles can be applied to shower heads as well!

One of the best methods to clean out a showerhead is with vinegar. Yet, some people simply cannot stand the smell of vinegar or don’t have any handy. Not to worry, because we’ve curated a list of tips on how to clean your showerhead without vinegar. In fact, there are vinegar-free alternatives for cleaning various household items, including coffee makers, which can be adapted for shower heads

Quick Answer

To clean a shower head without using vinegar, you can choose between other cleaning agents such as baking soda, a commercial chemical or even Coca-Cola. Whatever solution you choose, you’ll have to brush the grime and leave the chemical to take effect for at least 15 minutes, more if possible. Avoid using bleach since it will generate more bacteria after the application and the residuals can burn your skin when you use the shower.

Why Vinegar Is Not The Best Solution

Googling for how to clean a shower head will more often than not get you results that involve vinegar. Be it white vinegar that has been distilled or brown vinegar, it’s some sort of vinegar variant or another. 

Yet, the truth is that vinegar is far from the best solution for cleaning out a shower head that is suffering from mineral buildup. If there is limescale, you’ll need solutions stronger than vinegar. Instead, you might want to consider a shower filter for hard water, which is the root cause behind limescale buildups. 

Avoid Cleaning The Shower With Bleach 

Though popular belief is that using bleach is the best way to clean a shower head, the contrary is true. According to reputable studies, by using bleach to clean your showerhead, there is an increased chance of bacteria breeding. Instead, opt for other methods of cleaning which are safer and not as toxic, there are great to prevent mold too. 

Baking Soda Is A Quick And Easy Way To Clean A Shower Head

After vinegar, using baking soda to clean a showerhead is likely to be the next most popular method that you will find online when googling for solutions. 

Baking soda has worked in cleaning off even the toughest of stains and is a popular method of cleaning given how it’s easily accessible and is cheap. It’s even effective for cleaning stone fireplaces, so you can imagine how well it works on shower heads. If you’re keen to give it a go and clean your shower head, follow these steps: 

1.-Using a clean sponge, be sure to scrub your shower head well to get rid of any visible dirt and debris. 

2.-Next, add 5 tablespoons of baking soda to 1/2 cup of water in a large container big enough to hold the shower head within. Be sure to add just enough water so that the baking soda becomes a paste rather than dissolved within. 

3.-Using a steel brush, apply the paste to your shower head. If you don’t have a brush, then be sure to wear rubber gloves when you apply the mixture, as the mixture is damaging to your tender skin. Leave the showerhead in the container for no more than 15 minutes, before using a brush to wash the paste off. This method is similar to cleaning a bathtub, where you also need to be careful with the cleaning agents you use

If yours is a rain shower, then follow steps one and two, but apply the paste directly onto the shower head and wait 15 minutes instead. 

Be sure not to leave the paste on for longer than 15 minutes, as that will cause it to become hard to wash off. Once the 15 minutes are up, you should use hot water to rinse off the baking soda paste. Once this is done, your showerhead should look like new. 

The Not So Crazy Coca-Cola Method To Clean A Shower Head

While it may not come naturally to clean with Cola, the wonders that Coca-Cola does for your showerhead are bound to surprise you. There is actual scientific proof behind this phenomenon. As everybody knows, Coca-Cola is an acidic drink and contains minute amounts of phosphoric acid. This reacts with the alkaline limescale and other weak stains, thus helping to break them down. 

What you should do is disconnect the shower head from the wall or tubing, fill up a 1.5 liter container of Coca-Cola (It doesn’t matter what variety), and place the showerhead in the container. Leave it inside to soak for around half an hour before scrubbing the showerhead well with a clean brush. 

After this, if you still see any visible grime or deposits, you can repeat the above steps. Even if you leave the shower head in the coke for a longer period of time than half an hour, you don’t have to worry. Since the coke is not a strong acid, nothing will happen to your showerhead other than the limescale build-ups being dissolved. 

Using a Brush

If the buildup on your shower head is visible to the naked eye, then you could try using a stiff and sturdy brush to brush out your shower head with some lukewarm water, that is around 40°C. This will help in dislodging any large limescale deposits or other mineral buildups, thereby improving the water pressure of your showerhead. 

You can also use a smaller toothbrush to brush the crevices of the showerhead, and near the part where the shower head attaches to the tubing or wall to dislodge any foreign debris that might have gotten trapped there. This is especially important if you don’t use any shower head filters since there are often minerals such as chlorine added into our water sources, which can accumulate over time. 

Wipe Often

If you wipe down your shower head often, then you’ll find that that may be sufficient to ensure it looks shiny and new. It’s important to do so not just to ensure a good shower experience, but also to keep your shower head bacteria-free. 

Wipe it regularly, at least once every week, using a clean cloth when you do your weekly bathroom clean, to remove bacteria and prevent the chance of buildup occurring. This also helps with improving the water pressure, allowing you to have a restful and relaxing shower. 

If after all these are done, you still face low water pressure, then you might want to consider a change of showerheads, or getting the plumber in for a quick look to see if your water pipes are working well. 

“”There is a cornucopia of ecological alternatives available that work efficiently for cleaning shower heads without vinegar. You could use lemon juice or baking soda, combined with warm water, for example. The acidity from the lemon acts in the same vein as vinegar, while baking soda is an excellent mild abrasive cleaner. And of course, my expertise in domestic chemistry assures you of their effectiveness.”

Bartholomew Rafferty Feldman, Domestic Chemist


8 thoughts on “Vinegar Alternatives For Cleaning a Shower Head”

  1. Avatar
    Franklin Beaufort

    Remember folks, vinegar is indeed a natural and cost-effective solution for unclogging shower heads. As an ex-plumber, I’ve dealt with numerous similar situations. Just one thing, if you do use vinegar, make sure to thoroughly rinse afterwards as prolonged exposure can potentially harm the finish of your fixtures.

  2. I’ve been using vinegar to clean my shower head for years and it’s been doing wonders. Always keep in mind to give it a rinse afterwards to ensure the vinegar doesn’t tarnish the finish. Also, a toothbrush can be handy to scrub out any stubborn mineral deposits after soaking it in vinegar.

  3. Just like Zelda mentioned, white vinegar has magic touch; however, if your shower head is really old, the rubber washers inside it might decay over time, so keep an eye out for those after soaking and cleaning the shower head.

  4. I’ve seen a number of shower heads damaged beyond repair due to long-term neglect, making replacement the only viable option. But routine cleaning with vinegar, as mentioned, can indeed extend the life of your shower head significantly. Also, make sure you pay attention to the small holes in your shower head; they’re where the majority of clogs occur and manual cleaning using toothpicks after vinegar treatment can be super-effective.

  5. I also faced a shower head clog issue a while back and followed the vinegar treatment. Worked like a charm! I’d suggest using white vinegar for this, it’s less fragrant but equally effective.

  6. While vinegar can be effective, many people overlook the potency of citric acid. I’ve found it to be an equally effective and less pungent solution for cleaning mineral buildup from my shower head.

  7. I’ve had some excellent results with baking soda and warm water for my shower head – It clears out mineral build-up just fine without any powerful smell!

  8. “Vaughn, I absolutely agree with you. Sharing the same interest in DIY cleansers, baking soda has always been my go-to solution too due to its mild abrasive nature which makes it ideal for removing mineral buildup. But one should remember that it needs to be thoroughly rinsed afterward as it can leave behind a slippery residue unlike vinegar.”

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