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Degunk your showerhead in 1 hour with this simple science hack for getting the crust off

Mineral buildup is usually the culprit behind clogged spouts and uneven water flow. All you need are a few regular household items to knock it out fast without even breaking a sweat.

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It just takes a few common materials and an hour.

Dale Smith/CNET

If you've got a hard water problem, it doesn't matter how much you spend on a fancy new showerhead -- it's going to get clogged up and lose pressure eventually. Sure, you could just head over to our list of the best showerheads for 2020 and replace your showerhead with an even better one, but if you don't address the root problem -- mineral buildup from hard water -- you're going to spend more time shopping for showerheads than cleaning the one you've got with this simple trick.

That's because hard water has high levels of dissolved solids -- mostly calcium and magnesium -- that stick to the metal and plastic in your showerhead more and more over time, causing a buildup of crusty bits around the water spouts. Eventually, your house's water pressure can't compete, and your shower becomes a trickle. Shower filters are one way of preventing the problem, but there's an even easier fix.

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

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1. Gear up with a few household basics

First, gather your supplies. If you've got a small showerhead, a sandwich bag might do, but for larger hardware you might have to whip out a gallon bag. You'll need a rubber band to tie it up, and water can get heavy, so be sure to use a strong one. The kinds used to hold together produce like asparagus or broccoli are perfect, but your run-of-the-mill rubber band from an office supply store will do (although you might need more than one, especially for a big bag). 

For the cleaning solution, you'll need 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 ol' shower water.

2. Soak the grime away

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.

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3. Wipe, rinse and (hopefully) 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 powerful 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 should do the trick.

If you've still got tons of other cleaning tasks to accomplish now the holidays are over, check out these 14 cleaning tools that make cleaning easy and maybe even fun. Don't worry if you're busy, because we've got six tricks and tips to cut your cleaning time in half, as well. And don't forget that electronics need cleaning too -- just be sure to follow our guide to cleaning touchscreens the right way so you don't damage your gear.