How to Remove Calcium Deposits From a Shower Head

shower head with calcium buildup

The Spruce / Jessica Lombardi 

Is your showerhead blocked by unsightly calcium deposits? Hard water, particularly from wells, can be high in calcium, magnesium, lime, silica and other minerals. Once hard water passing through a showerhead dries, it leaves behind deposits. This mineral buildup is both unattractive and problematic, as it can plug up the waterways, and prevent your showerhead from flowing at full blast.

removing calcium deposits from shower heads

The Spruce / Alex Diaz Dos

How to Remove Mineral Deposits

Here's an easy and frugal fix to remove those deposits left behind by hard water: Just fill a small plastic bag half full with white vinegar and attach the bag over your showerhead with a rubber band. Leave the bag in place for an hour or two. Then, remove the bag, and scrub the showerhead with an old toothbrush or rag. Your showerhead should now look and function like new!

Tip: This same method can be used to remove mineral deposits from faucets in both bathrooms and kitchens. Save yourself a bunch of scrubbing, by soaking your faucets in vinegar first.

plastic bag filled with vinegar tied around a shower head
The Spruce / Jessica Lombardi

Why Vinegar Baths Are Effective

The acetic acid in white vinegar acts as a solvent, which helps to dissolve the mineral deposits that are clogging up your showerhead. After soaking in vinegar for an hour or two, that build up should wash away the next time you turn your shower on.

Benefits and Warnings

There are many reasons to make cleaning with vinegar a regular part of your housekeeping routine. First, it's inexpensive, virtually pennies for each cleaning. You'll save several dollars by not purchasing unnecessary specialty cleaners. And given that it's all-natural, there are no harsh chemicals or fumes to worry about. You can even use it to clean children's bedrooms and bathrooms with no additional concerns. 

Although it's very safe to use, you will want to take some precautions when using vinegar as a cleaner. First, be sure to avoid contact with the eyes. If any vinegar gets in your eyes, promptly rinse the entire eye with fresh water, until the sting has completely dissipated. Also, note that while it's safe to use vinegar to clean areas where children play, it's best to do so when they aren't present. Like adults, children shouldn't consume large amounts of vinegar, so be sure to store it out of their reach.

Removing Other Mineral Deposits

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 to collect. Although it's not as problematic as a clogged showerhead, it's still unattractive. Rinsing the area with a solution comprised of half vinegar and half water will eliminate such spots, without a lot of elbow grease. The solution can be mixed in a spray bottle and sprayed directly onto the affected area. Allow it to soak in. Then, wipe the surface clean with a soft cloth or sponge. Repeat the process, if any mineral deposits or streaks remain.

Can They Be Prevented?

Yes, you can stay ahead of mineral deposits by keeping your shower and tub clean, and by using a squeegee or towel to dry off wet surfaces after each shower or bath. It only takes a minute or two to do, so it's just a matter of forming the habit.

Keeping your shower and tub free of soap scum (residue left behind by bar soap), will also allow the minerals that are present in your water to wash down the drain, rather than stick to the soap scum. A portable steam cleaner makes quick work of the soap scum removal and can be purchased for minimum investment. Using a daily shower spray is another cheap and easy way to keep soap scum at bay. You might also consider waxing the surfaces in your shower after you've removed all the soap scum. This will prevent new soap scum from forming.

If the water in your home is especially hard, consider installing a water softener system to remove the excess minerals from your water. It will save you the hassle of dealing with clogged showerheads and mineral deposit stains.

squeegee and spray for post-shower mineral deposit prevention
The Spruce / Jessica Lombardi