How to Remove Mineral Build-up on Shower Heads

Shower head with flowing water gray tile

Mineral deposits in the great outdoors can be one of the wonders of nature. Mineral deposits forming inside your shower head—not so much. All municipal water contains some amount of dissolved mineral content, usually calcium carbonate. While they’re harmless to your health, and in trace amounts actually make drinking water taste more appetizing, dissolved minerals in water tend to solidify and accumulate inside hot water fixtures like your water heater and/or your shower head.

Today’s water-efficient “low flow” shower heads are engineered to exact tolerances in order to function properly. If mineral build-up inside the shower head gradually restricts tiny water passageways and spray openings, however, low-flow begins to feel more like next-to-no-flow. It’s increasingly difficult to rinse away shampoo and soap residue and the overall shower experience is less-than-satisfactory.

Short of installing a whole-house water softener, you can’t do much about dissolved mineral content in your municipal water supply. However, you can clear mineral build-up out of your shower head with this simple procedure.

  1. Unscrew the shower head from the water supply pipe. You may need a pair of pliers to loosen it.
  2. Pour enough full-strength vinegar into a bucket or other container to totally submerge the shower head. Roll it around to make sure the vinegar penetrates to all internal parts of the shower head. Be careful not to splash any vinegar into your eyes and keep the kids away.
  3. Allow the shower head to soak in the vinegar for two hours, then use an old toothbrush to scrub mineral residue off the outside of the spray head. Poke a toothpick into each of the spray openings to clear dissolved mineral accumulation.
  4. Reinstall the shower head on the pipe and tighten with pliers.
  5. Immediately turn on hot water and let it run a few moments to flush additional softened mineral deposits out of the passages inside the shower head.
  6. If mineral deposits are exceptionally heavy, place the shower head in a pan containing a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water and heat it to a boil for 15 minutes. Pour out the water and then allow the shower head to cool before reinstalling.

Don’t put up with poor performance of your shower head—and limp, shampoo-loaded hair—due to excessive mineral build-up. You don’t need expensive commercial lime dissolvers that contain harsh caustic chemicals and require special safety measures. Vinegar, an old toothbrush, and toothpick get the job done just as well and much more inexpensively.

If you found this blog helpful, you may want to check out our post “5 Common Air Conditioning Issues to Look Out For.

North County Plumbing is located in Vista, California and has been in the service business since 1970 providing quality plumbing services including leak detection and drain service in northern San Diego County. Our qualified technicians are available 24 hours a day to help with emergency plumbing repair services…with no overtime charges!

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