How should I descale and clean a showerhead?
Updated: Jun 3
Have you ever noticed how sometimes when you’re having a long luxurious shower, the spray jets start to squirt in every direction but down?
No, it’s not time to buy a new shower head. It’s only pieces of grit or limescale particles partially blocking the tiny jet holes. In fact, you may even have holes that aren’t passing water at all!
If you live in a hard water area, then you probably have particles of limescale blocking the shower. If you live in a soft water area, then the blockages may be caused by particles of rust or grit that have found their way into your water system.
Believe it or not, this is a very common situation to find yourself in, especially if you have a loft mounted cold water header tank. Lofts are very dirty places and all kinds of stuff can fall into the tank. Open the tank lid and you might find bits of fibreglass insulation or pieces of grit and dust. In fact, just about anything that finds its way into the tank will eventually appear at one of the hot water outlets.
So, in this article, we’re going to learn how to remove limescale from your shower head and hose. And if you live in a soft water area, then you’ll learn how to clean the showerhead of all the bits of grit and rubbish that swim around in your hot water system.
What causes limescale on a showerhead?
Limescale appears in your water system if you happen to live in a hard water area. You can find out about this in The Reservoir, the StoneStream Professional Knowledgebase, so we won’t talk about it here.
Apart from installing a water conditioner to remove the calcium ions when the water enters your house, you haven’t got a lot of choices when it comes to preventing limescale buildup.
Hardwater won’t make you ill, it’s perfectly ok to drink. But, the effects of hard water with soap and the limescale that comes with it, can be a nuisance. You’ll find the showerhead needs descaling regularly to unblock the spray holes. Furthermore, the scum formed by its reaction with soap leaves a film on your hair and skin. You’ll need a lot more shower gel and shampoo to get rid of it and have far more rinses. In extreme cases, it also causes skin problems.
How can I reduce my water hardness?
Some manufacturers sell products to soften water at the point of use. In fact, this happens with washing machines and dishwashers, where the appliance has a water softener built-in.
Today, though, we’re talking exclusively about showerheads and their associated fittings.
You can buy showerheads at a range of prices that incorporate water filters and softeners. The Stone Stream EcoPower Shower Head collection is one such. It contains a combination of three types of mineral filtration stones chosen to help purify and soften the shower water. Depending on the model, it may also contain a fine mesh polypropylene filter designed to trap as many foreign particles as possible.
How can I remove limescale from the showerhead
You can buy plenty of proprietary limescale cleaning liquids to clean the showerhead. They are available from your local supermarket, but unfortunately, this can work out very expensive if you clean the showerhead regularly. If you have a very bad case of limescale it’s always worth buying the cleaning liquids but initially, try a cleaning routine simply using white vinegar and water.
Cleaning a showerhead using vinegar
We think everyone would agree that it’s better not to use harsh chemicals unless you have no choice. They can damage your skin and the environment if you aren’t careful.
If you can unscrew your showerhead and the hose from the wall fitting, do so. Take the fittings apart as much as you can and Immerse them in a bowl of white vinegar.
For best results leave the fittings to soak overnight.
In the morning, remove them from the vinegar and rinse thoroughly with hot clean water. Check that the water flows through the spray holes without obstruction. If necessary, you may need a pin to unblock some of the holes.
If you want to descale the shower head faster, heat the vinegar before soaking the fittings. However, try not to get the liquid too hot or you might damage the plastic fittings.
At the same time, wipe the outside surface of the fitting with a sponge or soft cloth dipped in vinegar. Don’t use a metal scourer as this will damage the surface finish and the spray holes.
If you have a fixed shower head, put the vinegar into a plastic bag, something like a sandwich bag. Place the bag over the showerhead, ensuring you submerge the entire head. Tie the bag behind the head using string and leave to soak overnight. Remember to rinse everything in the morning.
Cleaning a shower hose
You’ve probably already realised this, but it’s no use spending a lot of time removing limescale from the showerhead if your hose and pipework have scale deposits too. Cleaning your fixed water pipes is really a job for a plumber but the shower hose can be cleaned just like the showerhead. Add hot water and vinegar into your bathtub and allow the hose to soak in the solution. You may have to repeat this a few times to remove all the limescale but it’s worth doing properly.
Some safety tips
Although vinegar is edible and won’t do you any harm, it’s still a corrosive chemical and should be treated as such. If you have scratches or cuts on your skin or if the vinegar splashes in your eyes, it can be very painful.
Always wear protective waterproof gloves and cover as much of your skin as possible. Even if you haven’t got any broken skin, prolonged contact with vinegar can cause all kinds of skin problems.
Don’t forget to wear splash proof safety spectacles to protect your eyes.
Vinegar fumes can be overpowering, especially if it’s hot vinegar. So, ventilate the room and wear appropriate breathing protection.
A descaled showerhead is a pleasure to use
Hardwater causes unsightly limescale that not only looks dirty but also reduces your showering pleasure. All you need to do is regularly clean the showerhead and hose using the methods outlined here or better still use one with a built-in filter.
Even if there are no obvious blockages, it’s worthwhile regularly descaling your showerhead, just to keep it working at its optimum. You know how refreshing a really hot shower can be? Well, you won’t be disappointed if you keep it clean and descaled.
While you’re at it, don’t forget to clean the limescale and scum from the shower screen too. If you clean all the shower surfaces properly, using it will be a pleasure.
We've also prepared the following video to help you better maintain a frequent routine of cleaning your StoneStream showerhead: