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How to clean your clogged showerhead without removing it in just 1 hour

We'll tell you which household items you can use to clear out the mineral buildup in your spouts.


It just takes a few common materials and an hour.

Dale Smith/CNET

If you've noticed the water pressure coming from your showerhead hasn't been great or the water is spraying in several different directions, that's when you know it's clogged. This problem stems from mineral buildup in your water, which usually means you have hard water. And while buying a new showerhead to replace your current one may seem like the best fix, it only temporarily solves your problem. Instead, try addressing the root of the problem, aka mineral buildup from hard water, with this simple trick.

Water is considered "hard" when it contains high levels of dissolved solids, mostly calcium and magnesium. That's the stuff that ends up sticking to the metal and plastic in your showerhead, collecting over time and causing a buildup of crusty bits around the water spouts. Eventually, your house's water pressure can't compete, and your shower stream slows to a trickle. Shower filters are one way of preventing the problem, but there's an even easier fix.

This science-based hack is so low-effort, in fact, that the waiting truly is the hardest part. With just a few common household supplies and some patience, you can have your shower's water output restored to its once-magnificent original flow in about an hour. Here's how to do it.

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Gear up with some items you already have in your junk drawer

First, gather up your supplies. If you've got a small enough showerhead, a sandwich bag might very well do the trick. For larger hardware, though, you might need to grab a big ole 1-gallon bag. You'll also need a rubber band to tie it up, but look for a thicker band, like the ones used to hold asparagus or broccoli crowns together at the supermarket. Water gets heavy, and quick.

For the science-y part, you're going to create a 50/50 solution of either CLR household cleaner (available at most grocery stores, Walmart and Amazon) or white vinegar (the stuff in your cupboard will do) and plain shower water.

Soak, soak, soak your way to a rejuvenated showerhead

Fill the bag about halfway with either CLR or white vinegar, then insert the showerhead into the bag. Secure it with the rubber band or bands, then gently turn on the water to the shower just enough to fill the bag the rest of the way and mix up the solution. Whatever you do, don't crank the shower on full blast, or else the sudden pressure may inadvertently launch the plastic bag across your bathroom. 

Next, set a timer for 60 minutes. You could use your phone, a kitchen timer or a smart assistant -- here's how to set multiple timers with Google Home, as well as with Amazon's Alexa on Echo devices. Now, go get some holiday shopping done.

Wipe, rinse and (hopefully) there's no need to repeat

After your timer goes off, remove the bag from your showerhead and let the cleaning solution spill into the drain. Toss the bag in the trash and wipe down your shower hardware with a damp cloth. 

Then, the moment of truth: Turn on your shower (full-blast, this time) and see how much more powerfully and evenly it sprays. If for some reason there are still a few clogged spouts, try repeating this process. But for most clogged showerheads, one round of this treatment should do the trick.