How to Remove Calcium Deposits From a Shower Head

shower head with calcium buildup

The Spruce / Jessica Lombardi 

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 10 - 20 mins
  • Total Time: 4 - 8 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $5

Hard water, particularly well water, can cause deposits rich in calcium, magnesium, lime, silica, and other minerals that clog up your showerhead. This mineral buildup can plug the waterway and prevent your showerhead from flowing at full blast.

The same hard water that clogs up your showerhead can leave off-white or brown spots on glass or ceramic surfaces, particularly in bathrooms and kitchens. Sinks, tubs, glass shower walls, and doors are all common places for mineral deposits that create soap scum to collect. Although it's not as problematic as a clogged showerhead, it's still unattractive.

Read on to learn how to prevent and remove the mineral residue gumming up your waterworks and leaving stains on your bathroom or kitchen fixtures.

removing calcium deposits from shower heads

The Spruce / Alex Diaz Dos

How Often to Clean Calcium Deposits on Fixtures

Daily cleaning with a commercial bathroom cleaner or a spritz of distilled white vinegar will keep calcium deposits on the exterior of plumbing fixtures free of deposits and reduce soap scum. However, the interior showerhead should be cleaned as soon as you notice reduced water flow. The frequency is highly dependent on your water supply. If you live in an area with hard water, a bi-monthly cleaning is recommended.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Adjustable wrench
  • Bowl or bucket large enough to hold showerhead
  • Microwaveable bowl or cup
  • Microwave
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Old toothbrush

Materials

  • Distilled White Vinegar
  • Toothpick or paper clip
  • PTFE or plumber's thread sealant tape
  • Plastic food storage bag
  • Rubber band or masking tape

Instructions

How to Remove Calcium From a Fixed Showerhead

  1. Create a Soaking Bag

    Pour one cup of distilled white vinegar into a heavy-duty food storage bag. You may need to add more to completely submerge the showerhead. Make sure the bag is large enough to fit over the showerhead.

  2. Secure the Soaking Bag

    Use a rubber band or masking tape to secure the soaking bag to the showerhead pipe. It will be a bit heavy so make sure you secure it tightly so it won't slip off.

    plastic bag filled with vinegar tied around a shower head
    The Spruce / Jessica Lombardi
  3. Soak the Showerhead

    Allow the showerhead to soak for at least four hours. Overnight or longer is better.

  4. Scrub the Showerhead

    Remove the showerhead and use an old toothbrush to scrub the fixture. To remove loose deposits from the showerhead nozzles, use a toothpick or a straightened paperclip to clear each nozzle.

  5. Rinse

    Rinse the outside of the showerhead with fresh water and allow the shower to run for several minutes at full force to flush out any loose deposits left inside.

How to Remove Calcium Deposits From a Removable Showerhead

  1. Remove the Showerhead

    Use an adjustable wrench to remove the showerhead from the pipe. Place a cloth between the wrench and the metal to prevent scratches.

  2. Create a Soaking Solution

    Place the showerhead in a bucket or bowl that is deep enough so it can be completely submerged. Heat enough distilled white vinegar in the microwave until it is very warm to the touch. Pour the hot vinegar over the showerhead.

  3. Soak the Showerhead

    Allow the showerhead to soak for at least 30 minutes, longer is better.

  4. Scrub the Fixture

    After removing the showerhead from the vinegar, use an old toothbrush to scrub away any visible calcium deposits on the face or housing. Use a toothpick, paper clip, or the tip of a safety pin to clear any deposits from the jet holes.

    Remove and clean any filter screen that may be located in the head. Take it out carefully and scrub with the old toothbrush. If the deposits do not come off easily, repeat the soaking process with fresh vinegar.

  5. Rinse and Reattach the Showerhead

    Rinse each component well and reassemble the showerhead. Reattach the showerhead using fresh plumber's tape to prevent leaks.

Tips to Prevent Calcium Deposits on Showerheads and Shower Stalls

  • Fill a spray bottle with a solution of equal amounts of distilled water and distilled white vinegar and spray it on the showerhead and shower stall after each use.
  • Dry off the showerhead after every use.
  • Use a towel or squeegee to remove water from shower stalls and doors after each use.
  • Consider adding a water softening system to your home if you live in a hard water area and are frequently affected by clogged fixtures and mineral deposit stains.
squeegee and spray for post-shower mineral deposit prevention
The Spruce / Jessica Lombardi  
Originally written by
Erin Huffstetler
Erin Huffstetler is a frugal living expert who has been writing for over 10 years about easy ways to save money at home. She's covered money-saving advice and tricks for numerous publications, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and Forbes, among others. She is the owner of "My Frugal Home," a money-saving, frugal living how-to guide.
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