You Should Soak Your Shower Head in Vinegar — Here’s Why

updated Jul 12, 2019
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Credit: Lauren Kolyn

I talk about vinegar so much around here, I’m starting to worry that all the other pantry ingredients are going to start getting jealous. (Vinegar, vinegar, vinegar!) I’d say I feel bad about it, but I totally don’t. Vinegar is an all-star and it deserves every single mention. It can help you naturally repel pests, clean your dishwasher and your washing machine, de-gunk your coffee machine, and so much more. I’ll be the first person to tell you that you should always have some distilled white vinegar on hand … even in the bathroom.

See, vinegar is a pretty strong acid (distilled white vinegar usually measures in with a pH of around 2.4). And because vinegar is so acidic, it can undo some of the ickiest grime including soap scum, grease, hard water buildup, and more. The hard water buildup is what I’m most interested in today, though.

Credit: Lisa Freedman

We have very hard water where I live. I’m constantly having to descale my coffee machine, and a few months after moving in my brand-new shower head was spraying water all over the place. Luckily the fix was simple: I just needed to soak it in some vinegar.

Over time — especially if you have hard water — gunk can build up in the shower head’s holes. This gunk can clog the holes and either prevent water from flowing entirely or send it spraying in every direction but the one you want. Just like cleaning the sprayer at your kitchen sink, soaking the shower head in vinegar (or a 1:1 mixture of water and vinegar, if your bottle is looking a little empty) will unclog those holes.

Because I’d rather not unscrew my shower head every time I need to clean it, I just pour the vinegar into a plastic shopping bag and wrap the handles around the head until the liquid is coving the necessary parts. I’ve found a small hair clip is enough to hold the bag in place. (You know, so I don’t have to stand there holding it.) Then, I just leave it there. For 30 minutes or, honestly, a few hours if I get sidetracked doing something else. When it’s time to take the bag off, the vinegar gets dumped down the drain and I run the shower for a minute or two to really clear the holes. You can wipe the shower head and scrub the holes, but I never do and I still get the results I want (read: a shower head that sprays right at me and not the ceiling).

And in case you’re worried about the plastic bag here, I hang it up to dry and use it again for something else.

Do you do this too? Do you have any other great uses for vinegar? Tell us in the comments below!