How to Clean Your Shower Head without Vinegar

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Nothing is more frustrating than hopping in an early morning shower only to find that the water is only trickling and barely flowing. For many reasons, shower heads become clogged on a regular basis. The most likely cause of clogs is built up scum, bacteria, mildew, minerals and dirt on the inside or outside of the shower head fixture.

These substances not only clog your shower head but will be disbursed through your shower head and onto your body until they are removed and prevented.

Vinegar has become one of the most popular methods of cleaning a shower head, but there are plenty of other cleaning options to explore. In this article, we’ll discuss how to clean your shower head without vinegar easily.

Additionally, at the end of this article, we will discover preventative measures that will keep future clogs at a minimum. But first, let’s find out how to deal with a clogged shower head.

The Six Ways to Clean Your Shower Head without Using Vinegar

Before applying any type of cleaner, remove the shower head and run under hot water to loosen any gunk or residue that will rinse off easily. When cleaning your shower head with or without vinegar, I recommend doing this every time since merely putting a bag over your shower head.

While every method of cleaning does not require disassembly, it is one sure way to guarantee that you have reached every part of the fixture, inside and out. 

Cleaning with Oven Cleaner

As a general rule, anything you use to clean an oven can be used to clean a shower head. Oven cleaner is an active cleaning agent that contains harsh chemicals. This compound can remove almost any residue in the house.

Oven cleaner has a fairly pungent odor and after application, requires a good amount of ventilation. If possible, wear gloves and a mask to prevent injury.

There is no need to remove the shower head before applying this method of cleaning. Simply spray the oven cleaner directly onto the shower head, completely covering the entire surface. Set a timer for 20 minutes and let the cleaner do the hard work for you. Next, rinse the shower head and wipe it off completely.

Failure to remove all of the oven clean from the surface may result in damaging the finish on the shower head. Be careful to wash hands thoroughly after you have finished cleaning. Store oven cleaner out of the reach of children.

Cleaning with Lemon Juice

Lemons are similar to vinegar in that they are acidic by nature. This quality makes lemon juice an excellent green cleaning option for your shower head. For this method, you can squeeze lemons or purchase a bottle of lemon juice.

Use a soft cloth to coat the shower head with lemon juice. There is no need to scrub the fixture. Allow the acid to do all the work for you. For added shine on your shower head, add a pinch of salt to the lemon juice and mix thoroughly. This slight abrasiveness will remove excess mildew and grime and allow your shower head to return to its original shine.

After allowing the lemon juice to sit for a few minutes, rinse off the shower head, and wipe it completely dry.

Cleaning with Baking Soda

According to Good Housekeeping, baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, has over twenty-two household cleaning applications. It is a non-acidic, nontoxic substance that, unlike soap, is slightly abrasive.

Baking soda is a simple and inexpensive option for cleaning your shower head. It is also useful as a natural antibacterial cleaning solution.

To begin, combine a small amount of water with baking soda until it forms a paste. If you add too much water and it becomes runny, just add more baking soda. If it’s too powdery, then add more water.

Next, apply the paste to the shower head. Cover the entire fixture, including all of the holes. Let the paste sit for 30 minutes and then rinse thoroughly. Test the shower head after rinsing and ensure that all of the cleaner is removed. If any of the baking soda paste remains on the shower head, it will cause additional clogs.

Cleaning with Bleach

Bleach is a standard household cleaner that is cheap and easily accessible. It is a disinfectant that should be used with caution. It’s vital to use bleach in a well-ventilated space. Avoid mixing bleach with another cleaning compound as it can be hazardous to your health.

To clean your shower head with bleach, start by mixing equal parts bleach and water in a small container. Use a disposable bowl, or bucket, rather than something that could ever be used for food storage. Make sure that the mixture is diluted before applying to the shower head.

Use a soft cloth to apply the bleach solution to the shower head. After five minutes, rinse the shower head with water. Follow-up by washing with a mild soap and rinsing again. Allow the shower head to air dry. 

Look for any cloudy residue that is left on the shower head. This is an indication that there is still bleach remaining on the fixture. Dispose of any remaining bleach solution.

Poke It with a Small, Pointed Object

Paper Clip

You may be surprised how easily you can unclog a shower head by using a small pointed object, like a toothpick, paper clip, or safety pin, to clean out the individual holes. This option allows you to reach places that would otherwise be difficult to reach. After cleaning the entire shower head, rinse with water.

It is helpful to use a flashlight or magnifying glass to examine the holes to ensure they are completely cleaned out.

Using Coca-Cola

Coca Cola

For years, people have used cola beverages as a cleaning product. They produce amazing results in removing rust and grease. Colas are also helpful in restoring tarnished silver or copper.

To clean a shower head using cola, begin by removing the shower head from the fixture. Next, pour a can of Coca-Cola into a large bowl. Then, submerge the shower head in the bowl for a few minutes. Finally, remove the shower head from the bowl and use a microfiber cloth to remove the loosened grime and dirt.

Although cola is an effective cleaning product, it leaves a sticky residue that has to be removed even after the shower head is otherwise clean. Make sure to rinse thoroughly with soap and water before returning the shower head to the fixture.

How to Prevent Future Clogs

The key to preventing future clogs in your shower head is regular and routine cleaning. You don’t have to wait to see buildup and grime before taking preventative measures. By the time you can see the residue, it is already beginning to form a clog.

Mildew and soap scum can not only clog a shower head, but also damage the metal or plastic finish on the fixture.

If you clean the shower head as part of a regular bathroom cleaning regimen, it will prevent severe clogs from developing and keep up with the appearance of the fixture.

Using a Toothbrush


Keep a toothbrush on hand to regularly scrub the shower head. It doesn’t require much elbow grease or cleaner to simply brush off the shower head bi-weekly or monthly.

Simply add a small amount of toothpaste to scrub the shower head and restore the shiny finish. The toothpaste is a slight abrasive that will work as a polish to remove mildew and soap scum.

Using a Water Softener

If your water is rich in minerals, it can cause a build-up to on shower heads and fixtures. This can create clogs of calcium and magnesium to form in the holes of the shower head. This hard water also contains chlorine that is tough on your skin and hair.

A water softener, or water filter, can be added to a shower fixture or the entire water system of a home. Water softening is a process that removes the ions that create hard water. When water contains fewer minerals that pass through the shower head, then there are less to minerals cause clogs.

You can purchase a water softener to add to your shower fixture starting at only $50. It is well worth the money to avoid clogs and the damage harsh chemicals can cause to your shower head, and it’s not too hard to install either!

Routinely Wiping Your Shower Head Down

As simple as a may sound, using your towel to wipe off your shower head after each use helps prevent soap scum and mildew buildup. It will also help you stay conscious about routinely cleaning your shower head.

Final Thoughts on Cleaning a Shower Head without Vinegar

On an average day, you spend a little over an hour and a half in your home bathroom. The moist conditions of a bathroom can produce the ideal situation for bacteria and mold to grow. A squeaky clean bathroom is not only pleasant but also essential to healthy living.

Clogged shower heads are problematic for more reasons than just functionality. They can house mold and mildew that will continue to grow unless dealt with and prevented.

Developing a regular cleaning schedule can help reduce clogs, but if you should develop issues with your shower head, there are many cleaning options.

Think beyond the typical vinegar cleaning option. Take a look at your household cleaning supplies, and you will find several solutions that are inexpensive and convenient.

Thanks for reading, shower lovers.