Clean Your Showerheads

A recent study showed that about 30% of showerheads contain traces of a bacterial strain called Mycobacterium avium, which has been linked to lung disease and a flu-like feeling of fatigue in those whom it affects. Additionally, traces of other bacteria were found, depending on the regions tested. Some showerheads actually contained more bacteria than the municipal water sources that fed the shower. Though hot water flushes through showerheads daily, it is not uncommon to find bacterial and mold build-ups in the heads, creating a slimy and sludgy substance called bio-film. Additionally, minerals may build up in showerheads, causing water pressure to decrease, or for water to shoot out at odd angles when the water openings become clogged up.  But don’t let fear of bacteria or bad water pressure spoil your showers. Solving these problems can be easy if you are willing to clean your showerhead.

In the case of bacteria in the showerhead, it seems like it would solve the problem if you took apart your showerhead and cleaned it with bleach, but the above study showed this method to be less than helpful as it resulted in bacterial resistance to the cleaner, and in some bacteria, the strain came back three times stronger than it was before. Most of the ways to eliminate bacteria in a showerhead do not involve cleaning at all. One of the researchers in the study found that metal showerheads contained less bacteria than plastic ones. It is also recommended that one use a showerhead that has a filter, as well as changing out the showerhead every six months. But the best tip to ensure one does not take a bacteria-infested shower is to stand outside the shower and let the water run, a good practice anyway when letting the water run warm enough to shower. The bacteria tends to grow in water that collects in the showerhead between showers and much of it can be dispelled by letting the water run for a minute or two before taking a shower.

Removing mineral deposits from a showerhead involves actual cleaning. Removing mineral deposits does not have to involve caustic chemicals and involves more waiting than cleaning. The first step is to remove your showerhead. Do your best also to remove the showerhead cover, if you can. Place the showerhead and cover into a bowl that contains white vinegar and let it soak for about ten minutes (if you cannot remove your showerhead, you can fill a baggie with a few inches of white vinegar and place it around the showerhead, making sure the showerhead is submerged in the vinegar, and securing the baggie in place with a rubber band). Check the showerhead and see if the mineral deposits have loosened. You can poke through the holes with a straightened paperclip. Use a toothbrush reserved for cleaning purposes to clean loosened mineral deposits in the showerhead, then rinse the showerhead in hot water. If the mineral deposits have not loosened enough, soak it again and repeat this process until you have been able to remove all the minerals.  Replace the showerhead and secure it into place and run warm water in the shower and see if the pressure and water direction have been restored.

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