If this sounds familiar (and you’re certain this isn’t a water pressure problem), you may need to take a closer look at the state of your shower head.

You’re likely to find chalky, off-white deposits on your shower head’s face. This troublesome and grubby-looking stuff is limescale. While it’s completely harmless to humans, limescale is unsightly and can massively detract from the look of your bathroom. Even if not immediately visible, limescale is likely to have built up within the head itself, blocking individual ducts, reducing flow, and causing peculiar spray patterns.

Limescaled Shower Head | How To Clean A Shower Head | Victorian Plumbing
While this may look like a clean shower head, limescale has completely blocked the flow of several ducts

Don’t panic just yet. Even chronically clogged shower heads can be salvaged. Before you rush to buy a replacement, you may find it worth your while to give the following guide a go. In a few simple steps, and with the help of a common household product, we’ll teach you how to clean and descale the two most common types of shower head.

Cleaning a handheld shower head

1. First things first, you’ll need to remove that poor shower head. Most modern shower heads should simply screw off with little effort, though you may need to use a small spanner on stubborn older ones. Once unscrewed, you may find a small rubber washer within the hose connector. Make sure you keep this safe as without it, your shower will almost certainly leak water from this connection.

2. Take your limescaled shower head and place it in a plastic container. Then, submerge the shower head in white vinegar. You don’t need an expensive, dedicated shower head cleaner, but it is essential that you use white vinegar; save the malt vinegar for your fish & chips. The strong acidic qualities of the solution work wonders at breaking down those pesky limescale deposits. Allow the shower head to soak for up to half an hour before removing.

3. After removing the shower head from its vinegar bath, rinse it thoroughly in cool water. Be sure to spray some water inside the handset to help dislodge internal limescale. The vinegar will likely have removed most of the surface limescale. Give it a good scrub with clean sponge if there are still minor blemishes.

4. Next, take a worn old toothbrush (if you’re anything like us you’re probably in need of a new one anyway!) and brush away at any remaining blockages within the nubs on the face. The white vinegar should have loosened these up, making them relatively easy to remove. Follow this by polishing the unit with a soft cloth to really bring it back to life.

The hansgrohe Crometta 1 Spray Hand Shower | How To Clean A Shower Head | Victorian Plumbing
The hansgrohe Crometta 1 features QuickClean technology making it easier to remove limescale from its flexible silicon nubs

5. Reattach your clean shower head, then run the shower for at least 30 seconds before using it. This is crucial as it will flush out any residual vinegar and bits of limescale.

Cleaning wall/ceiling mounted shower heads

1. Most overhead showers are difficult to remove, making them a little more troublesome to clean. However, a few showers (such as those in the hansgrohe Crometta range) do feature quick release mechanisms. Be sure to check your own before following the next steps on how to clean a shower head; you may be able to remove it and then simply follow the steps above.

The hansgrohe Crometta E 240 Shower Head | How To Clean A Shower Head | Victorian Plumbing
The hansgrohe Crometta E240 1 Spray Shower Head also features QuickClean technology and can be quickly removed for hassle-free cleaning

2. Still here? Don’t worry, you don’t need a pricey shower head cleaner. Just grab some white vinegar and a strong plastic bag. Make sure the bag is big enough to cover your shower head. Fill the bag with vinegar sufficiently so that it submerges your shower head when pulled across it.

3. Securely attach the bag of white vinegar to your shower head. We used a few elastic bands but you can use anything you can find; zip ties, duct tape etc. Just make sure you don’t use anything that could leave a mark.

4. Allow the shower head to soak for up to half an hour (at least 15 mins) before carefully removing the bag. Using a toothbrush, scrub away the loosened limescale to reveal your stunning, clean shower head.

5. Let your shower run for at least 30 seconds and you’re good to go!

Preventing limescale build up in your clean shower head

Now you've learned how to clean a shower head, you may be wondering how to keep it limescale free. All it takes is a pretty simple maintenance routine. Take a few seconds after every shower to ensure your shower head is dry by using a small towel to wipe off any surface water. We also recommend removing the shower head once a month (if you can) to rinse away any small pieces of limescale on the inside before they become problematic. Stick to these two pointers and you’ll significantly reduce the chances of limescale returning.

Still struggling to descale a shower head?

In most cases, the above methods to maintain and descale a shower head are highly effective. However, if you’ve repeated these steps and your shower head remains blocked, a brand new one may be your only option. Check out a handful of our recommended shower heads at the bottom of this page, all selected for their innovative easy clean features.