Cleaning and maintaining shower heads is one of the most easily overlooked domestic chores, as after all 'it's had water running through it plenty of times a day right?'. Not quite. Water is the number one source of bacteria in the household, allowing for the moist conditions that cause mold and similar unpleasant blockages to slowly build up over time. That many of us take several showers a week should necessitate the occasional check up to remove any fungus or mold that our bathing water flows through; and the good news is that doing so is really simple.
What Lurks Inside The Shower Head?
Hopefully nothing – but if they haven't been taken off in a while it's likely a good idea to do so, especially if you may have recently moved into a new property. Germs, microbes and bacteria can all settle in the shower head and then be filtered day after day over ourselves as we wash. Unfortunately much like limescale these potentially harmful bacteria won't just go away or become passive – they have to be addressed with a bit of effort.
Washing the shower head with bleach or bathroom cleaning spray will unfortunately not be satisfactory to kill them off either. These products will not penetrate deep enough the shower head system to cause much if any effect – the only effective remedy is to disconnect it from the wall and take a look inside.
Removing The Shower Head For Cleaning
Usually this is just a straightforward screw that may even not need a spanner to remove the shower head attachment from the pipe. Check with your manufacturer's instructions if it's not apparently clear.
You shouldn't need to disconnect the water but feel free to do so if it provides extra safeness of mind, these are usually in the bathroom sink to isolate the bathroom. If you have difficult removing the shower head, if it has become rusted or wedged for example a good comprehensive guide can be found here:
Cleaning Out the Show Head
Even if the shower head looks clean to the eye – it very likely may not be and it's best to be sure.
The easiest way to do this (chemicals should be avoided – is a shower after all!) is to warm a bowl of white vinegar and soak the pieces – detach as many as you can if possible – in the solution. It's important that all the pieces remain submerged so you may want to use a bucket if needed.
Leave these for a half hour or so and remove from the vinegar. Take a look at the parts and carefully examine for any deposits congregating near the shower heads opening. Then take a small bristle brush – a new toothbrush is fine – and scrape/dislodge these away. Even if you see nothing it's still worth a quick brush and following the next step anyway.
Boil some water and give the part a good soak (off the heat). This should kill off any resident germs, then we're done.
It's worth noting that while plastic shower heads are cost effective and often more practical, they do tend to suffer more from bacteria building up in them than their metallic counterparts, so you can look for the best one showerhead in this recent review.