If you’ve been experiencing a blockage, and I don’t mean the kind that requires more fibre in your diet, consider cleaning your shower head to improve water flow and give you a better shower experience.

Basically, a shower head (like mine, pictured in this post), is constantly spouting water out, every day at your beck and call.  Naturally, water has calcium and other mineral deposits which over time can (and will) clog faucets, showerheads and coffeemakers (have you seen our blog post on cleaning a Keurig yet?).  This isn’t harmful per se, it just slows the flow.  It constipates, if you will, your system.

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There are many corrosive products that are out there claiming to blast away calcium, lime and rust (catch my drift?) which I’d never allow in my house.  Certainly, all you need to dissolve this build up is a good soaking in some plain white vinegar.  The acids in vinegar naturally break down limescale and rust and allow your shower heads to work like new again.  You can also use this trick for cleaning and unclogging faucets.

All you need for this trick is:

1) a zippered bag or sandwich bag, heck you could even use a produce bag.

2) an elastic band, tie wrap or hair elastic (I’m all about options)

3) white vinegar (no options here, just plain white vinegar)

Fill your bag about half way with vinegar and fasten the bag to the shower head.  Do this by enclosing the mouth of the bag over the shower head and fastening it tightly in place with the tie.  Ensure the shower head is fully immersed in the vinegar, it needs to be in order for this to work.  Let’s say yours is on a hose (like mine), then I’d suggest taking the hose down and letting it sit in the tub.  Let this sit for 12 hours, or 24 if the shower head is really crusty and you have an alternative shower you can use.

When done, simply remove the bag (careful not to get any vinegar on your or worse, in your eye), and dump down the drain.  Yes, it will smell for a few minutes but shortly thereafter you’ll notice no smell.  If you want to be super sassy, throw some baking soda down your drain before you dump out the vinegar and you’ve now also cleaned our your drain in the process (go you!).  Let the shower head run hot water for a minute before getting in, you’ll marvel at your handiwork; it will run like new!

If you are having stubborn stain issues, you can soak the shower head even longer to see if it will blast away.  If you wish, you can use some baking soda and rub that in to the small nozzles with a cleaning toothbrush which will help break down any additional limescale and remove the discolouration.  Rinse it clean and you should notice a difference.  Keep in mind that brown discolouration is ugly (I believe this has to do with iron content in water), but is not harming the functionality of the shower head. Green and white ‘crust’ is what you really need to work on, calcium and limescale are the culprits in clogging your shower head.

Isn’t my grout clean?  I know!  Here’s a video I put together a long time ago on cleaning grout.  Yes, it takes a lot (ish) of time, but the results are really and truly amazing.

This easy and cheap trick is just another simple way to maintain your home and keep things running like new.

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Melissa Maker is an entrepreneur, cleaning expert, founder of Toronto’s most popular boutique cleaning service, and star of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube (but she still hates to clean!). Every week, Melissa delivers new videos dishing expert advice on cleaning products, tools, DIY substitutes, and practical, timesaving solutions to everyday problems. Melissa has appeared on the Today Show, and has been featured in InStyle, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.


  1. This quick fix for a clogged shower head is genius! Using vinegar to remove mineral deposits and a toothbrush to scrub away any remaining residue is a simple and effective solution. Thanks for the helpful tip!

  2. Hi, my shower is the one which has silicon nozzles and it is stuck to the wall so I cannot really dip it into vinegar. And it has black mold on the silicon/rubber nozzles. How should I clean it ?

    • you could probably scrub it by hand. Maybe using soft scrub (its a bleach product, so be careful) and like a toothbrush or scrubber if you have one (obviously don’t use a brush that has been or ever will be in someone’s mouth) and just go at it?

  3. I am instead of trying to remove a bag full of vinegar. Would vinegar or any other home made cleaner work to unclog the shower drain? Can you use this if your shower head has a rubber peice will the vinegar do anything bad to the rubber? Thanks in advance for giving me clarification.

  4. Instead of trying to remove a bag full of vinegar why not just poke a hole in the bottom of the bag and let the solution drain out slowly and then remove the bag!

  5. Would vinegar or any other home made cleaner work to unclog the shower drain? I can’t remove the metal cap part and because I live in a college dorm room and share a bathroom I don’t think It can stop happening and I don’t wanna have to call maintenance every time. Any ideas?
    Thanks in advance to any responses.

  6. my problem was not calcium , but a water saving shower . i found they had installed little black orings in both ends of the fittings that had rotten and pluged the lines .removing then i had more pressure then before.

  7. I’ve use this trick. It works great! Just remember to remove the bag before your husband tries to use the shower. 🙂 I left mine on overnight and my husband got a surprise. Luckily it was just vinegar and not a harsh chemical. Ginger

  8. you can disconnect the shower head FROM the hose at the base which makes this process SO MUCH easier. set it up in a bucket overnight… wipe it down with a cleaning cloth/sponge… and reconnect it in the morning!

  9. I’m trying this with a faucet that is so blocked up there’s almost no water coming through — and it was new in 2009! I’ve tied a zip bag full of vinegar around the end of the spout and am crossing my fingers. We have terribly hard water that leaves lime/calcium deposits on everything; I have to wipe down the glass in my shower every time it’s used, or I get water spots immediately!

  10. Thanks a lot it helped immensly! My shower head was gross with so much buildup, I did this last night. I used a zip tie.. And it worked!! It looks like I have a new shower head! Thanks for the tip!

  11. Never mind my earlier question. I should’ve watched the video BEFORE I submitted my question. The video answered my question. It’s much simpler than I was thinking. I was trying to avoid having to detach the hose from the spout coming out of the wall. But after watching that video, I see that that’s not necessary, that I can just let it soak in vinegar in the bag while it hangs on its hook. So please disregard my earlier question. Once again, thanks for the handy dandy tip!!

  12. Melissa, thank you for the shower head cleaning advice!! I recently bought a new shower head and love its flow, and I want to keep it that way. A couple of the holes are already starting to spray a little bit sideways.

    I did have a question. The hose that the shower head is hooked to is long enough to where I can just lay the shower head upside down on the side of the tub. My question is, would it be sufficient to just lay it upside down on the side of the tub with the holes facing up and pour some white vinegar over the hole side and let it sit like that or would I need to actually take it off the hose and do the sandwich-bag-in-the-tub method as you suggested? I have a feeling that it would clean a lot better and perhaps clean on the inside of the shower head (where I could never reach) if I were to completely immerse it in vinegar.

  13. My faucets all have an antique brass finish. Can I put those (showerhead and kitchen sprayer) in vinegar without harming the finish?

    • Yes it will. I ruined mine and my hubby was not happy. Melissa do you have suggestions for cleaning these types of shower heads?


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