The Teeny Tiny (but Very Gross) Thing You’re Forgetting to Clean

updated Oct 9, 2019
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Credit: Abe Martinez

So, you’re giving your kitchen a much-needed deep clean. Amazing! Clean counters? Check. Glistening stovetop? Scrubbed-down sink? Check, check. Faucet aerator — wait, what’s that? 

Often, while cleaning, we focus on the surfaces we can see. Fair enough — there’s nothing like a shiny, clean kitchen. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that sometimes, the gross stuff lurks in the parts of the kitchen we don’t even think about. In your sink’s case, the small, potentially neglected part is the faucet aerator. And chances are, it needs a good cleaning.

What is a faucet aerator? 

You know that small part on the end of your faucet with a mesh screen? That’s your faucet aerator. It adds air to your water to both reduce splash and control the amount of water coming out, which ultimately saves you money. 

Why do I need to clean my faucet aerator? 

Honestly? They can get pretty gross. The mesh screen can hold on to debris, and if you have hard water, calcium deposits can build up in them over time. Plus, a blocked aerator can slow your kitchen faucet’s water flow down to a trickle.

Thankfully, your faucet aerator is a cinch to clean, and you don’t need anything special to take care of it.

How do I clean my faucet aerator? 

  1. Turn off the water supply to your kitchen sink via the valves in the cabinet beneath it.
  2. Remove the aerator from the faucet by unscrewing it. You may be able to do it by hand but you can also use a wrench or pliers. If you’re worried about scratching the metal aerator with your pliers, you can cover them in electrical tape first. 
  3. Use a (clean) toothbrush and water to scrub any debris from the aerator, ensuring the holes in the screen are completely clear. 
  4. If any calcium has accumulated on the aerator, soak it in white vinegar overnight. 
  5. Rinse and reassemble. 

Note: If your aerator doesn’t seem to unscrew, you can skip all these steps and just fill a baggie with vinegar and use a rubber band to secure it over the tip of the faucet. Let it soak overnight and then remove.