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Is your shower head failing to perform as well as it once did? If so, then chances are good that it’s time to clean the shower head, eliminating scaly buildup within the fixture in order to restore the strength of its flow. It’s easy to do, and you’ll be happy that you spent the small amount of time required to complete the task.
Pay attention first to the flexible rubber nozzles through which most newer types of shower heads send water into the stall. Over time, those nozzles become clogged up with mineral deposits that compromise the fixture and worsen its performance. Scrub the nozzles with a toothbrush to dislodge any deposits you can reach, but be careful not to scrub the soft rubber too vigorously. Also, avoid using strong chemical cleaning agents, because they too can damage the nozzles.
Detach the shower head and, after consulting the manufacturer’s instructions for information specific to the model you own, extract the filter screen. (This can usually be found near the point where the shower head attaches to the water supply pipe.) Run the filter under the faucet while gently scrubbing it with a toothbrush. Once it’s clean, reassemble and reinstall the shower head and test it.
You may notice a big difference—or you may not. Removing mineral buildup certainly ought to improve flow through the fixture, but if you have always had a problem with water pressure in your home, you shouldn’t expect that cleaning the shower head will magically overcome weak pressure.
The Vinegar Method
Step 1—scrubbing the shower head nozzles with a toothbrush—may not manage to remove all mineral deposits. That’s OK: You can clean off the remainder with household vinegar, whose mild acidity actually dissolves the deposits. To do this, fill a plastic bag with vinegar, then fit the bag over the shower head so that the nozzles are completely submerged. Secure the bag with a zip tie or binder clip, leaving it in place for several hours or overnight. Remember to run the shower for a minute before jumping in to bathe—you don’t want to end up smelling like salad dressing, do you?