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Clean and Remove Soap Scum from Your Shower Head

Posted January 21, 2023 by Mike Lewis under Tips

Clean and Remove Soap Scum from Your Shower Head

Cleaning and removing soap scum from shower heads is an important part of bathroom maintenance. Soap scum buildup not only looks unsightly, but can also clog shower heads, reduce water pressure, and create an environment for mold and bacteria to grow. Here’s how I clean and remove soap scum from my shower head.

Why Soap Scum Builds Up on Shower Heads

Soap scum forms when mineral deposits from hard water react with soap and shampoo residues. The residues accumulate over time, sticking to the shower head and pipes. Soap scum appears as a hard, off-white crust that’s difficult to scrub off.

Factors that contribute to soap scum buildup include:

  • Hard water – Water with high mineral content like calcium and magnesium. The minerals bind with soap to form scum.
  • Soap/shampoo residues – Most bath products contain chemical ingredients that react with minerals in water.
  • Poor water pressure – Low pressure allows residues to cling to shower heads.
  • Infrequent cleaning – Letting soap scum sit leads to stubborn buildup.

Ignoring the buildup can lead to corrosion, clogs, and bacterial growth in shower heads and plumbing. Therefore, regular cleaning is essential.

How to Clean Soap Scum off a Shower Head

Here are some effective methods and steps I use to remove soap scum from my shower head:

Vinegar Soak

White vinegar is my go-to homemade cleaner for dissolving soap scum and hard water deposits. It’s inexpensive, non-toxic, and works great.

  • Unscrew the shower head and place it in a bowl or pot.
  • Fill the container with equal parts warm water and white vinegar to submerge the head.
  • Let it soak for 30-60 minutes. This allows the vinegar to break down the scum.
  • Use an old toothbrush to gently scrub away any remaining residue.
  • Rinse thoroughly before reattaching the head.

Baking Soda Scrub

For a more abrasive scrub, baking soda works well to exfoliate soap scum.

  • Make a paste by mixing 3 parts baking soda to 1 part water.
  • Apply the paste to the shower head surface using a sponge or scrub brush.
  • Scrub gently in circular motions. Avoid scratching metallic finishes.
  • Rinse with clean water and dry with a soft cloth.

Limescale Removers

For heavy limescale deposits, chemical dissolvers containing citric acid are extremely effective. Lime-A-Way and CLR are two popular commercial options.

  • Fill a bucket with warm water and add the limescale remover per the product instructions.
  • Submerge the shower head and let it soak for up to an hour, until the deposits dissolve.
  • Wipe away any remaining residue with a soft cloth or brush.
  • Rinse thoroughly.

Tips for Preventing Soap Scum Buildup

Once your shower head is clean, try these tips to prevent soap scum from returning quickly:

  • Install a water softener to reduce mineral content in hard water.

  • Dry the shower head after each use to wipe away excess water.

  • Clean the shower head monthly with vinegar or scrub. Don’t wait for buildup.

  • Use natural, sulfate-free shampoos and soaps which produce less scum.

  • Upgrade old shower heads which have internal rubber gaskets that trap residues.

  • Consider filters that attach to shower heads to inhibit mineral deposits.

  • Maintain proper water pressure and check for leaks that allow buildup.

  • Ventilate bathrooms properly to avoid moisture sticking to surfaces.

With some simple cleaning methods and preventive maintenance, I’m able to keep the shower heads in my home free of unsightly and problematic soap scum. The regular effort helps provide more enjoyable shower experiences.

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