9 Easy Alternatives For Cleaning Shower Head Without Vinegar

Have you ever found yourself standing in the shower, only to be greeted by water squirting in different directions?

It’s a frustrating experience, and I can’t count how many times I blamed my husband for tampering with the shower head, only to discover that it was simply a case of limescale build-up.

how to clean a showerhead without vinegar

When it comes to cleaning shower heads, the rubber band and vinegar technique is undeniably the go-to solution for many. But what if you don’t have vinegar on hand or simply aren’t a fan?

That’s why I’m going to show you nine effective alternatives to vinegar that will leave your shower head sparkling clean and functioning flawlessly. Goodbye clogged water holes, let’s explore these vinegar-free cleaning methods and ensure your shower head is always at its best.

Method #1- Limescale remover

how to use limescale remover to clean shower head

When it comes to tackling hard water deposits and limescale buildup that clog your shower head, using a limescale remover is highly effective.

These products are available in different strengths, making them an efficient solution.

Depending on your location, specific brands of limescale removers may vary, but any reputable product designed to remove limescale will work wonders. However, there’s a small caveat to keep in mind – avoid leaving the remover on for too long, as it might damage brass or stainless steel surfaces.

This is particularly important when dealing with brushed brass shower heads like I have in my home. 

One of the reasons I personally love limescale removers is their unbeatable speed. There’s no need to spend hours tirelessly scrubbing away.

With these products, you’ll witness the magic happening within seconds, leaving your shower head sparkling clean. For those of us who value our time and don’t want to spend hours cleaning, these types of products are invaluable.

Unfortunately, some of these products have strong acids that can be harmful for those with lung disease so wear rubber gloves and even a mask when cleaning. You might also want to leave the windows and doors open. 

Here are a few well-known and popular brands of limescale removers that you might recognise:

  • Viakal
  • HG
  • Cilit Bang

Now, let’s explore other vinegar-free cleaning methods to help you maintain a clean shower head.

Action step: Choose a good limescale remover, such as Viakal, HG, or Cilit Bang, and apply it to your shower head following the product instructions. Ensure you don’t leave it on for too long to avoid damaging the brass or stainless steel surfaces.

Method #2 – Citric Acid

how to use citric acid to clean shower head

For those who are actively avoiding harsh chemicals but still want a strong yet natural cleaner, citric acid combined with warm water is the perfect solution.

Citric acid is naturally found in fruits like lemons and pineapples but can be obtained in a more concentrated form by fermenting crude sugars. I love citric acid because it is less likely to discolouration on brass or chrome surfaces.

To effectively use citric acid for cleaning your shower head, follow these steps:

  1. Detach your shower fixture if necessary. However, if you have a handheld shower head with an extender, you don’t need to remove it.
  2. Mix equal parts warm water and citric acid. Adjust the ratio if needed, depending on how severe the mineral build-up. Stir until well mixed.
  3. Pour in a ziplock bag and submerge the shower head in.
  4. Tie with a twist tie or elastic band and allow the shower head soak in the solution.
  5. Alternatively, submerge the detached shower head in a bowl and allow the shower head soak for 30 minutes.
  6. After 30 minutes, remove and scrub with an old toothbrush.
  7. Rinse under warm water and repeat the cleaning process if necessary.
  8. Polish with a microfibre cloth.

Action step: Detach your shower fixture if necessary, mix equal parts warm water and citric acid, submerge the shower head in the solution for 30 minutes, scrub if needed, rinse thoroughly, and polish with a microfibre cloth for a clean and shiny shower head.

Method #3 -Toothpick and dish soap

how to use toothpick and dish soap to clean shower head

If you want to an even simpler method without using lots of products, simple dish soap and toothpick can do the trick. However, bear in mind that this simple cleaning method might require some time and patience depending on how much mineral deposits you are dealing with.

These days shower heads are made from silicone or flexible rubber nozzles. This makes it even easier to clear the clog with just your finger. Here’s how to clean your shower head using this method:

  1. Wet a non-abrasive sponge and pour some dish soap over it. You can also use a pure castille soap like Dr. Bronner.
  2. Using a little elbow grease, wash it thoroughly using the sponge to gently scrape off any grime or buildup
  3. Gently insert the toothpick into the nozzle holes and move it back and forth to get rid of the mineral build up. Alternatively, you can use your fingers for this step if you have rubber nozzles.
  4. Repeat until each nozzle is cleared and rinse the shower head to rinse off the soap residue.
  5. Dry the shower head with a soft cloth 
  6. For that extra shine, polish with a glass cloth. 

Action step: Wet a non-abrasive sponge with dish soap, scrub the shower head to remove grime, use a toothpick to clear mineral buildup in the nozzle holes, rinse the shower head, dry it with a soft cloth, and polish with a glass cloth for a sparkling clean finish.

Method #4 – Bar Keepers Friend 

how to use barkeepersfriend to clean shower head

I don’t know what they put in Bar Keepers Friend but it’s incredible to a cleaning metal or stainless steel surfaces. 

Even though it’s a rust remover and not sold as a limescale remover, it’s an incredible cleaning agent for hard water stains. Here’s how to use it. 

  1. Wear gloves to protect your hands.
  2. Dampen a non abrasive but firm sponge and sprinkle a small amount of Bar Keepers Friend powder onto sponge or directly on the shower head.
  3. Go over the shower head in circular motions.
  4. Let the Bar Keepers Friend sit on the shower head for a few minutes to dissolve the build up. Do not exceed 5 minutes.
  5. Go over again with a sponge, this will loosen any remaining clogs.
  6. Rinse the shower head thoroughly.
  7. Use a clean, soft cloth to dry the shower head and polish till it shines.

Action step: Put on gloves, dampen a non-abrasive sponge, sprinkle Bar Keepers Friend powder on the shower head, scrub in circular motions, let it sit for a few minutes, rinse thoroughly, dry with a soft cloth for a shiny, clean shower head.

Method #5 – Hydrogen Peroxide

how to use hydrogen peroxide to clean shower head

Hydrogen peroxide is one of the mild but effective natural cleaners you can use for your shower head and tackle various stains and mineral deposits. Follow these steps to use hydrogen peroxide for cleaning:

  1. Mix equal parts hydrogen peroxide and water in a bowl or container. For example, you can mix ½ cup of hydrogen peroxide with ½ cup of water.
  2. Detach the shower head if possible. If detaching is not possible, pour the hydrogen peroxide and water mix into a ziplock bag and tie it over the shower head.
  3. Thoroughly rinse the shower head with water whilst using an old toothbrush or a soft brush to gently scrub the nozzles and surface.
  4. Repeat process if necessary.
  5. Use a soft cloth to dry the shower head and polish with a glass cloth to shine.

Action step: Mix equal parts hydrogen peroxide and water, detach the shower head if possible or use a ziplock bag tied over the shower head, rinse with water while scrubbing the nozzles, repeat if needed, dry with a soft cloth, and polish.

Method #6 – Oven Cleaner 

how to use oven cleaner to clean shower head

Even though it might seem unconventional, many oven cleaners do an excellent job of getting rid of limescale although some have a strong smell. As long as you get an oven cleaner that is safe to use on metal surfaces. 

  1. Detach your shower head if necessary and spray the oven cleaner all over the problem areas
  2. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to know the recommended time for letting it sit. 
  3. Scrub with a toothbrush or a non abrasive sponge.
  4. Rinse thoroughly and repeat the process if necessary.
  5. Wipe with a soft cloth and polish with a glass cloth.

Action step: Detach the shower head if needed, spray an oven cleaner safe for metal surfaces on the problem areas, let it sit for the recommended time, thoroughly rinse, repeat if needed, wipe with a soft cloth, and polish.

Method #7 – Lemon Juice

how to use lemon to clean shower head

I saved this for the seventh method because it’s not my favourite way to clean a shower head. However, in order to provide you less harsh chemicals, I thought it best to include it. The reason I was hesitant is because using lemon juice can take a very long time.

The truth is many natural cleaning products don’t work as quickly but the trade off is that they are great for the environment. 

The citric acid in lemons allows it to cut through limescale, however citric acid present is not in large quantities. Here’s how to use it.

  1. Cut open a fresh lemon. You may squeeze out the juice or use it directly. 
  2. Detach the shower head, if necessary.
  3. Immerse the shower head in a neat solution of lemon-mixing it with water might make it work more slowly.
  4. Another option is to soak a piece of kitchen roll in the lemon juice and place over the shower head.
  5. Let it sit for about 30 minutes and rewet the roll if it starts to dry out.
  6. Using a sponge or toothbrush, scrub the shower head to dislodge any left over deposits.
  7. Rise thoroughly and repeat if necessary.
  8. Dry with a soft cloth and polish with a glass cloth.

Action step: Squeeze fresh lemon juice, detach if needed, soak shower head or use soaked kitchen roll, let sit for 30 mins, scrub with sponge/toothbrush, rinse, repeat if necessary, dry with a cloth.

Method #8 – Baking soda and dish soap

how to use baking soda and dish soap to clean shower head

Baking soda paste, made with a combination of dish soap and baking soda can form a powerful cleaning solution that tackles grime and mineral buildup on your shower head. Baking soda acts as a mild abrasive, while dish soap cleans and breaks down oils and residues. Follow these steps to make and use the baking soda paste:

  1. In a small bowl, mix 1 tablespoon baking soda with three tablespoons of dish soap. The paste should be thick but spreadable, if it isn’t add a few drops of water.
  2. Carefully detach the shower head if possible.
  3. Apply the paste to the shower head using a sponge. The baking soda creates a little abrasion that can help dislodge any stubborn buildup.
  4. Rinse the shower head thoroughly with water and repeat if needed.
  5. Dry with a soft cloth and polish with a glass cloth.

Here is a video that demonstrates a similar process:

Action step: Mix 1 tbsp baking soda with 3 tbsp dish soap to create a paste, detach shower head if possible, apply paste with sponge for abrasion, rinse thoroughly, repeat if needed, dry with cloth, and polish.

Method #9 – Magic eraser/ Melamine sponge

how to use magic eraser to clean shower head

I bet you have never considered using a magic eraser for your shower head? Many people don’t know this but the magic eraser is actually a very light sandpaper.

I saved method for last because it only works well on very minor build up and requires a lot of elbow grease…I mean, a lot! Any of the previously mentioned methods will work a lot better. Here’s how to make your shower head sparkle with Magic Eraser. 

  1. Wet the Magic Eraser sponge with water. Squeeze out any excess water so that the sponge is damp but not dripping.
  2. Detach the shower head, if necessary.
  3. Gently go back and forth with the damp Magic Eraser sponge using light pressure over the surface and nozzles.
  4. After thoroughly cleaning the shower head, Rinse it with water and go over any spots that still have any build up.
  5. Reattach the shower head or ensure it is properly back in place.
  6. Use a soft cloth to dry the shower head and polish with a glass cloth.

Action Step: Wet Magic Eraser sponge, gently clean surface and nozzles with light pressure, rinse thoroughly, dry with cloth, and polish for a sparkling shower head.

Maintenance and Preventive Measures

how to clean and maintain showerhead

I hope you discovered new tips for cleaning your shower head. It’s very important to keep a regular cleaning routine to keep them free of build up.

Mine is once a month or admittedly, once I notice the pressure drop off or if it starts squirting in all different directions. 

Another thing to consider is reaching out to your shower head supplier or manufacturer to ask about any specific recommendations or tips they may have for cleaning and maintenance.

Mine told me about an incredible product called Autosol for maintaining the shine of our brass taps. You just never know the information they might provide.

You might also want to consider investing in water softeners, which can help reduce mineral deposits and extend the lifespan of your shower head. However, I understand that it is quite a significant investment and not everyone has the space to fit one.

Alternatively, you can get a water softener attachment which is significantly cheaper.

As for me, I still love using vinegar, it’s cheap and gets the job done. Let me know if I missed anything.

FAQS on How To Clean Shower Head

How do you remove limescale from a shower head without removing it?

To remove limescale without removing the shower head, use vinegar or any of the methods mentioned; citric acid, lemon or hydrogen peroxide.

Simply fill a plastic bag your preferred solution, place it around the shower head, and secure it with a rubber band or twist tie. Let it soak for a while, then remove the bag and brush or wipe away the loosened limescale.

What is the fastest way to clean a shower head?

One of the quickest ways to clean a shower head is by using a spray-on limescale remover. They are designed to dissolve mineral deposits quickly. Simply follow the instructions on the product, and rinse off quickly so that it doesn’t affect the surface of the shower head. 

Does Coke clean shower heads?

Coke contains an acid called phosphoric acid which is responsible for its tartness but also works as an excellent descaler. Other brands of cola, like Pepsi, also contain citric acid which imparts the tangy flavour but is also great for getting rid of limescale

This does not mean you should go out and buy a bottle of Coke to use for cleaning, however you can use leftovers for your cleaning. 

How to clean shower head rubber nozzles?

These days shower heads are made from silicone so a quick rub or pull between your thumb will dislodge limescale, If yours doesn’t come with a flexible rubber nozzle, Use a toothpick to push through the hole. 

What is the best thing to clean a shower head with?

The best thing to clean your shower head depends on personal preference and the level of buildup. The best natural household products to clean your shower head are: vinegar, citric acid, lemon, hydrogen peroxide and baking soda.

Commercial methods include: limescale removers, oven cleaner and Bar Keepers Friend. Choose the method that suits your needs, preference and tolerance for commercial products .

Other Cleaning Posts You May Like:

3 Genius Ways To Clean A Shower Door With Vinegar

Permanently Remove Hard Water Stains From Glass Shower Doors

7 No-Fail Solutions To Clean A Hazy Mirror


Hey you, I’m Torera

Hey there! I am Torera, a home care and cleaning enthusiast with a mission to make cleaning as fun and easy as possible for women like you. As someone who had to learn everything from scratch, I have the mindset of a beginner and know exactly how to take you from A to Z. Let us ditch the overwhelm and create a space that is clean, cozy, and totally you!

  1. 7.10.23
    how to get an old shower head off said:

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    • 7.11.23
      Torera said:

      Thanks a lot!

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