When it comes to massaging aching muscles, bathing young children, or giving the family dog his monthly bath, a handheld shower head can be a handy upgrade to your bathroom. A handheld shower head features a long hose that allows you to remove it from its mount and aim the stream of water from the head. This design is also ideal for households with shower safety concerns, allowing users to bathe from a chair to limit injury.
The best handheld shower head will feature multiple spray settings for massaging or rinsing, a switch to cut off water at the shower head, and a kink-free shower hose. If you want to purchase one of these versatile shower heads, learn about factors to consider when shopping and why these models are among the best handheld shower heads available.
- BEST OVERALL: Couradric Handheld Shower Head
- BEST BUDGET: AquaDance High Pressure 6-Setting Handheld Shower
- BEST LUXURY: Delta Faucet H2Okinetic In2ition Dual Shower Head
- BEST FOR SAVING WATER: Nosame Shower, High Pressure Handheld Shower Head
- BEST FOR LOW PRESSURE: Lokby High-Pressure Handheld Shower Head
- BEST FOR MODERN BATHROOMS: KES Bathroom Handheld Shower Head
- BEST RAIN SHOWER HEAD: Bright Showers Rain Shower Head with Handheld Spray
- BEST DUAL SHOWER HEAD: AquaDance 7″ High Pressure 3-Way Rainfall Combo
- BEST FILTERED SHOWER HEAD: PureAction Filtered Shower Head with Handheld Hose
- BEST MASSAGING SHOWER HEAD: G Promise HIgh Pressure Shower Head
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Handheld Shower Head
There are several factors to consider before purchasing a handheld shower head, including material, flow rate, spray modes, and water pressure.
The typical handheld shower head sits in a cradle with a flexible hose attached. These shower heads come in several types, either as individual pieces or part of a set:
- Combination shower heads have both a fixed and handheld shower head. Users can use one or the other or both while showering. A three-way diverter allows each of the two heads to be used simultaneously or independently. Due to flow rate regulations, however, water pressure is reduced when both heads are used at the same time.
- Low-flow shower heads control the amount of water usage to help conserve water. Water-saving shower heads, according to the EPA, have a flow rate of no more than 2 GPM (gallons per minute). These water-efficient shower heads come with flow rates as little as 1.5 GPM.
- High-pressure shower heads provide a nicer rinse and a massage-like feeling on the body. They’re designed to increase the water pressure with air inside the head. While these shower heads may cost you more up front, they’ll save you money in the long run by reducing your water bill.
- Rain shower heads are a popular option for combination sets. Water flows down over the top of your head, creating a relaxing sensation reminiscent of a spa. They’re either mounted to the wall or ceiling and usually have a wider spray and lower pressure compared to standard fixed shower heads.
Most shower heads have a combination of metal and plastic parts. Stainless steel and brass are typically used for the threaded fittings to the shower spigot as well as the internal parts that direct water flow. The external components usually consist of high-grade plastic, which is not susceptible to rust or corrosion like many metals.
Some showers use aluminum with a chrome, brushed nickel, or bronze coating. High-end shower heads are made of brass or stainless steel, which also resist rust and corrosion. Most handheld shower heads use silicone nozzles, which are clog-resistant and require little maintenance.
Flow Rate and Pressure
Energy consumption is directly related to the flow rate. The lower the flow rate, the less water the showerhead uses and the more you save on your water bill. The maximum flow rate for a shower head is 2.5 GPM, but some have outputs as low as 1.5 GPM, which can save you a significant amount of money.
Since the National Energy Act was passed in 1992, the maximum allowable flow rate for shower heads is 2.5 GPM, significantly less than older models with flow rates of 3.5 GPM or more. Some shower heads offer maximum efficiency, with flow rates as little as 1.5 GPM. With the exception of high-pressure shower heads, flow rate typically dictates water pressure; the higher the flow rate, the higher the water pressure.
Water-saving shower heads that earn the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) WaterSense label use no more than 2 GPM while providing a shower that is equal to or better than standard shower heads on the market. EPA estimates that replacing a conventional shower head with a WaterSense shower head can save nearly 3,000 gallons of water each year.
When shopping for an efficient shower head, don’t just take the manufacturer’s word for it. Look for the WaterSense label. These shower heads have been tested and approved for their ability to save water and energy and provide a shower of equal or better quality.
Most shower heads offer various flow patterns, with some featuring over 40 different spray settings. In general, flow patterns can be distilled into the following types:
- Broad spray patterns allow for maximum coverage.
- Pulsating and targeting spray settings create a narrow, intermittent stream of hot water for massaging sore back and neck muscles.
- High-pressure spray settings work well for rinsing shampoo and conditioner from hair.
- Oversize rain-style shower heads offer maximum coverage while simulating the feel of rain.
Handheld shower heads lack the sleek, minimal look of standard shower heads because of their long hoses, which give them a more utilitarian look. Unless you’re planning to redo the entire bathroom, you’ll likely want to match the new shower head to the current bathroom fixtures, including the finishes and materials.
Some of the most popular finishes are chrome, polished brass, brushed nickel, and stainless steel. Keep in mind that shiny finishes may show water spots, while matte finishes resist staining. The size of the shower head can play a role in design and style.
If you have space in a nice stand-up shower and want a square rain shower head up to 18-inches large, why not? It can add a modern look and provide a relaxing shower experience. Conversely, those with compact shower spaces may need to stick with something smaller.
Some nice extras that you can look for when purchasing a shower head include:
- Filtered shower heads feature a built-in filtration system that softens water and removes contaminants such as chlorine and lead.
- Nonslip grip shower heads come with rubberized handles so that they don’t easily fall out of your hand while showering.
- LED lights add an extra level to the shower experience. Users can select from various colors depending on mood, or users can turn off the lights and just hide out if they need to ignore the world for a while.
- On/off switches allow users to pause the shower while shampooing or shaving to save water.
- Magnetic docking connects the handheld shower head to its cradle and is a relatively high-end feature.
Most handheld shower heads are easy to install. Installation typically involves unscrewing the old shower head from the spigot, applying plumbers tape to the threads, and screwing on the new head. Depending on the type of shower head, installation may involve an extension arm, which attaches to the spigot on one end and the shower head on the other.
Installing a shower head normally requires only a crescent wrench. Since virtually all shower spigots are a standard ½-inch size, you don’t need to worry about compatibility.
Our Top Picks
This curated list highlights some of the best handheld shower head options available. From traditional models to sleek rain shower head combinations, these reliable picks can upgrade your bathroom and bathing experience.
With its six spray settings, high-pressure output, and durable metal and plastic construction, this handheld shower head from Coruadric will meet a variety of needs. The 5-inch diameter spray head has a variety of settings, including bubbling rain, bubbling water, shampoo rinsing, pulsating massage, and water-saving, making it an excellent option for a relaxing shower or bathing the kids.
Forty-eight self-cleaning rubber nozzles prevent mineral build-up. A 70-inch stainless steel hose gives this model a greater range of motion and mobility, while a copper wall-mounting bracket adds stability. Its rounded features and brushed nickel finish make it an attractive addition to your bathroom.
Numerous spray patterns and an affordable price make this handheld shower head a great option for those looking to upgrade their showerhead to a handheld model on the cheap. Despite its low price, this Aquadance showerhead doesn’t skimp on features, with six different rain-inspired spray settings that range from power rain to rain mist.
A 5-foot hose provides enough length for bathing small children or even pets, while a mounting clip allows it to function as a standard shower head. An ergonomic handle makes the showerhead easy to grip while rubber jets make the nozzles easy to clean. The AquaDance handheld showerhead comes in chrome, brushed nickel, or rubbed bronze.
This high-end showerhead uses an innovative design that allows it to function as a rainfall showerhead when mounted to the spigot. It consists of a handheld shower head that fits inside of a mounted showerhead using a simple magnetic connection. When functioning as a mounted shower head, it boasts a broad 7-inch diameter face that nearly doubles the coverage of the handheld.
This showerhead also uses H20kinetic technology, which allows its nozzles to create larger water droplets than a standard shower, providing better coverage and intensity than other shower heads while still using only 1.75 gallons per minute. This technology allows it to offer five powerful spray patterns, including kinetic power drench, full body, massaging, and full body spray with massage. The Delta H2Okinetic comes in seven finishes, including chrome, bronze, polished nickel, and black stainless.
This showerhead will shave dollars off the water bill with each shower thanks to its flow rate of just 1.6 gallons per minute, which saves up to 30 percent of water compared to other handheld shower heads. That low flow rate doesn’t mean its pressure is wimpy. It uses micro nozzle technology that makes each hole smaller and denser, increasing the speed of water as it flows through.
A stop button on the shower head allows for even more water savings by enabling the user to turn the water off and on without having to close the shower faucet valves. This showerhead is also versatile with a spigot mount that allows it to be used as a standard showerhead as well as a handheld. Its three spray settings include rainfall, massage, and jetting.
This handheld showerhead uses nozzles that compress the water as it passes through to increase velocity, improving low water pressure. It also comes packed with five different spray settings designed to boost water pressure, including massage, rain, power rain, mist, and rain plus mist.
A long 59-inch hose provides plenty of range, making this model an ideal choice for those who need to bathe young children or the family dog. A convenient off button lets the operator turn the shower off from the head, while silicone jets keep this showerhead functioning properly by resisting build-up from hard water. A bracket that attaches to the spigot with 60 degrees of pivot allows this handheld to also function as a standard mounted showerhead.
The modern looks of this showerhead may resemble a microphone, it’s not for singing in the shower. This stainless steel cylindrical showerhead, which measures just over an inch in diameter and about 7-1/2 inches long, delivers a powerful spray with more than 60 tiny nozzles. It functions as either a handheld or can be mounted to the spigot.
It features durable stainless steel construction and silicon nozzles that resist clogging from lime and other hard water deposits. With a hose that extends more than 6 feet, this model has one of the longest ranges of any handheld showerhead. While it may add modern flair to a bathroom, it does require compromising some function for form as it only includes one spray pattern. The KES showerhead is available in brushed steel, matte black, and polished steel.
This shower head combo combines the enveloping feel of a rainfall shower head with the versatility of a handheld shower head. This 8-inch square shower head features 200 nozzles and mounts above your head, providing that one-of-a-kind rainfall experience. The handheld model, also with a square-shaped head, matches the contemporary styling of the rainfall shower head.
It has three spray settings, including a massage spray and rinse settings, as well as an on/off switch, making it suitable for bathing pets and children. A three-way diverter control allows you to direct water flow from the faucet to the handheld shower head, the rain showerhead, or both. Both feature “uncloggable” silicone nozzles for low maintenance.
This setup from Aquadance includes two separate shower heads, including a 7-inch broad rainfall shower head and a 4-inch handheld shower head that mounts alongside it. Leave the handheld shower head attached for maximum water coverage from both heads, or detach it and use it as a handheld.
There are several flow options, allowing you to run water through either head or both. A switch on the handheld shower head allows you to stop or start the flow of water for water savings. Both shower heads feature six flow settings for massage, rainfall style, or standard. These shower heads feature plastic construction with a chrome finish.
Remove all the impurities damaging your skin and hair with this filtered handheld shower head. It features a shower filter that fits inside the nozzle. This unit filters out chlorine, heavy metals, rust, sand, and sediment that can dry skin and damage hair. The filtration system also makes it a good option for bathing babies with sensitive skin. The filter, which lasts about 6 months depending on use, removes impurities using a filter sponge and alkaline ceramic beads.
The shower head, which features durable ABS plastic and stainless steel construction, has three spray settings, including rain, massage, and combo. A 60-inch hose provides plenty of length and mobility for use while bathing.
When it comes to massage, it’s all about a shower head’s spray settings, and this model from G-Promise has plenty of them. Its rounded face can be rotated to access six spray patterns, most of which are devoted to massage, including power massage, rainfall plus power massage, massage, and rainfall plus circular massage.
An adjusting lever makes switching between the spray settings with wet hands easy. An extra-long stretchable 70-inch stainless steel hose gives this shower head plenty of length to massage those harder-to-reach spots, while a metal bracket allows the user to mount it as a standard shower head. The G-Promise showerhead is made from high-grade plastic and comes in a brushed nickel finish.
FAQs About Your New Handheld Shower Head
If you still have questions about handheld shower heads, read on for answers to the most common questions.
Q. How do I choose a handheld shower head?
The best handheld shower heads should provide the right settings for your needs. If you plan on using it to massage sore muscles, make sure it has a pulse setting. For rinsing hair or bathing pets, get a showerhead with a powerful rinse setting. A good handheld shower head should also have a hose long enough to facilitate various uses.
Q. Are there shower heads that increase water pressure?
Some shower heads can increase water pressure by circulating air into the shower head, which results in a more intense flow of water from the head.
Q. Do all shower heads have flow restrictors?
The National Energy Act of 1992 requires all shower heads to include flow restrictors limiting water flow to a maximum of 2.5 GPM. In areas with low water pressure, a flow restrictor can reduce your water pressure to well below 2.5 GPM. In these cases, you may need to remove the flow restrictor from the shower head.
Q. What is the best shower head to increase water pressure?
With its narrow nozzles that increase the velocity of water, the Lokby High-Pressure Handheld Shower Head is one of the top models for improving low water pressure.
Q. How much does a water-efficient shower head save?
A water-efficient showerhead that uses just 1.6 gallons per minute saves more than 26 liters of water for the average 7-minute shower. That adds up to about 9,000 liters of water per household member per year.
Q. What does a shower head filter do?
A showerhead filter protects skin and hair from chemicals and minerals that can cause damage and dryness, including chlorine and chloramines.
While trading out a standard shower head with a handheld model will improve the functionality of any bath, it’s important to consider a couple of other factors before making a purchase.
Think about how it will be used. A showerhead with multiple spray patterns is ideal for massage while models with long hoses offer the range needed for bathing young children or pets. Water pressure is also key. Those dealing with low water pressure should select a showerhead with narrow nozzles designed to maximize water pressure in order to get the most out of their new shower head.