How to Clean Shower Head Fittings (Brass, Chrome, and More!)


After a while, you start to notice that the water pressure from your shower head has dropped significantly, not to mention the spots and dullness that cover the entire metal fitting. What’s worse, mineral deposits get lodged in the nozzles, blocking water from coming out, or simply squirting the water out. Therefore, the overall performance (and appearance) of your shower head depends on its level of cleanliness!

For the longest time, bathroom cleaning has overlooked shower heads simply because they are not exactly at eye-level, and there are so many other fittings that require to be cleaned. Moreover, homeowners pay more attention to surface cleaning, while bathroom fittings (like your shower head) receive the occasional wipe down. 

Well, today, you are going to learn the importance of cleaning your shower head, and exactly how to do it! We’ve got a step-by-step guide on how to clean aluminium and stainless steel shower heads, as well as quick instructions and tips for cleaning chrome and brass bathroom fittings. Read on for all the information you need!

Step One: Remove Shower Head

Most shower heads are screwed on or removable; therefore, they are fairly quick and easy to take down and replace. If you’re dealing with a fixed-on head, don’t worry, there are ways to clean those as well! While removal shower heads are simply easier and more convenient to clean, the only difference with fixed-on heads is that you cannot clean them internally without the help of a professional. 

TIP: If the fitting is screwed on too tight, add a few drops of basic machine oil and try again after a minute or two. 

Step Two: Soak in Vinegar

Owing to its acetic acid content, white vinegar is one of the best natural ingredients to use in household cleaning. It is great for removing stains and breaking down grease and grime from various types of surfaces, including metal. In this method, the shower head needs to soak in white vinegar for 3 to 4 hours to really break down grime and kill bacteria. If you have a fixed-on shower head, fill up a small plastic bag with vinegar and tie it around the shower to submerge the head in the cleaner. Be sure to tie the bag securely around the top of the head so that it doesn’t slip off with the weight of the vinegar. 

Step Three: Brush the Nozzles

The best way to remove mineral deposits from the nozzles of the head is by brushing them with a soft toothbrush. Most shower heads have rubber nozzles which are fairly easy to clean due to their flexibility, however, some of the bits may require a bit of pressing or massaging to loosen up the debris lodged inside. Plastic nozzles, on the other hand, typically require the use of a toothpick to break down deposits. After you have poked through each plastic nozzle, the debris can be rinsed out later. Remember to be gentle when cleaning or brushing the nozzles as these bits can break off if you are too rough on them. 

If you find that the rubber or plastic is dirty or discoloured, use a mild cleaner such as liquid hand soap and a soft toothbrush to clean it thoroughly. Apply the cleaning agent directly to a damp toothbrush and gently scrub the dirt away.

Step Four: Reattach and Rinse

While you can rinse off the exteriors under a sink tap, the shower head nozzles will require water running through them to remove debris. Therefore, it’s advisable to rinse off the rest of the head, reattach it to your shower, and turn it on. It will only take a few seconds to clean inside the nozzles so be sure not to waste water when doing this! While the shower is running, check if all the nozzles are unblocked and observe the water pressure; if the latter hasn’t improved as much as you hoped it would, the next step will take care of that. Brush over the nozzles again if some of them are still blocked. You can also use a pin to carefully unblock rubber or plastic nozzles.

Step Five: Remove Filter and/or Flow Restrictor

If your shower has both, a filter and water restrictor, you will find them located below the head, within the part of the fitting that attaches to the pipe. Some showers have more than one flow restrictor, so you will need to look inside different areas of the fixture to ensure that you remove them all. Filters, on the other hand, are generally fitted within the pivot ball of the shower. 

When you unscrew the head and look inside, there will be a small rubber washer which will need to be removed before you can get to either the filter or flow restrictor. A pair of tweezers or small (needle-nose) pliers can be used to remove the washer, as well as the filter or water restrictor. 

How to Clean the Filter and Flow Restrictor:

    1. Rinse the fittings under running water; gently rub both sides with your fingers while rinsing them.
    2. Soak the filter and flow restrictor in equal parts water and white vinegar for 10-15 minutes.
    3. Scrub away dirt and debris with a sponge (use hand soap if needed).
    4. Take a toothpick or pin to push out any dirt blocking the holes.
    5. Rinse the fittings and washer(s) thoroughly before replacing them.

Step Six: Clean Internal Parts

The inner parts of a shower can also accumulate grime and mineral deposits. From the pipe to the pivot ball; cleaning inside your shower head can maximise water pressure and restore its original performance. You can clean the pipe or hose with a regular bottle brush, preferably a flexible one if the pipe is curved. Be sure to rinse out the inside by running water through it before replacing the head. When cleaning other internal or more intricate areas, consider using a toothbrush or paintbrush for a thorough clean. Make a mild cleaning solution and pour it over the area before scrubbing to remove buildup. 

Step Seven: Scrub the Exteriors

Limescale, water spots, and grime can stain and dull any type of metal, especially bathroom fittings. You’ll notice that your shower head is prone to a combination of these things and hence, requires a wipe down regularly. Depending on the metal, a mild cleaning solution made with liquid dish soap and water will remove all kinds of spots and grime from your shower head. Spritz a cloth with glass cleaner and buff the exteriors to reveal a truly shiny, stain-free surface! 

Step Eight: Rinse and Replace

It’s important to rinse each part of your shower head thoroughly before attaching them back to your shower because even residue left from cleaners can clog the pores of the filter, flow restrictor, and shower nozzles. Furthermore, you wouldn’t want any cleaning agents mixing with the water when you are showering! 

To ensure that each part of your shower head is rinsed out thoroughly, soak them in warm water for a good 15 minutes before rinsing under running water. Replace the fittings, turn the shower on and allow the stream from each nozzle or hole to flow for a couple of seconds.

NOTE: The cleaning process above is best suited for stainless steel and aluminium shower heads. For other types of metals, follow the directions below.

How to Clean Brass Shower Heads

    1. Dampen a soft cloth (like a baby wipe) with hot water.
    2. Apply any type of foaming cleanser to the brass surface and wipe it down with the cloth.
    3. Clean internal parts with foam and a soft-bristled toothbrush or paintbrush.
    4. Rinse off the shower head with warm water and reinstall it.

Tips when cleaning brass:

      • The use of polish after cleaning brass will give your shower head a luxurious finish
      • It’s best to dry the fitting before replacing it to prevent water spots
      • Use rubber gloves when cleaning to avoid fingerprints appearing all over the brass
      • Do not use harsh or abrasive cleaning agents and/or tools
      • Buff the surface with a soft, dry cloth if you don’t have polish

How to Clean Chrome Shower Heads

    1. Cut a fresh lemon in half; squeeze the juice into a bowl.
    2. Use the pith as a scrubbing tool to remove water spots and stains from your chrome (exteriors).
    3. Mix the lemon juice with about half a cup of warm water; dip a sponge or toothbrush in the solution and clean the internal parts of your shower head. If the metal inside is aluminium or stainless steel, you can use the same cleaning methods mentioned in the step-by-step guide above.
    4. Rinse and wipe over your shower head fittings to remove traces of the lemon.
    5. To polish your chrome, simply dampen a soft cloth with a little glass cleaner and buff the exteriors of your shower head.

Tips when cleaning chrome:

      • Add a few drops of essential oil to the pith before cleaning for added shine and a pleasant fragrance
      • As a substitute to lemon, make a mild solution of liquid hand soap and water to remove stains
      • Avoid abrasive cleaning agents and tools
      • Wipe the surface dry before and after polishing for long-lasting shine

In conclusion, dirt, bacteria, and mineral deposits all hide within your shower head; therefore, it is not only important to clean and maintain this crucial bathroom fitting for better performance, but for sanitary reasons too.

Karen Saunders


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