As plumbers in Albany, we’ve fixed issues in many North Shore bathrooms, and most of those bathrooms have been perfectly clean. We’re not surprised. We Kiwis pay close attention to domestic hygiene and there is sparkling evidence of that in the bathrooms we work in. For all that, there is one area that is not usually cleaned with the same vigour; the showerhead.
We might clean the rest of the shower every few days but the showerhead doesn’t receive the same amount of attention. We recommend you clean it at least once a month because it doesn’t minerals and other deposits accumulate inside the showerhead and form a solid film. This film covers the small holes within the head and reduces water pressure as a result. (However, if you find the water pressure is still low even after the showerhead has been cleaned, there might be a pressure issue that we can fix for you.)
There are also health reasons for cleaning the showerhead more often than you do now. A bathroom is a warm and humid environment that makes the area a breeding ground for bacteria, mould, and other germs. While you will clean away these nasties from around the shower, bath, toilet, sinks etc, the film that builds up within the showerhead gives them somewhere to hide and stops them from being flushed out by the chlorine we have in our water. When you turn on your shower, there’s a chance these potentially harmful microbes can be dispersed into the air and inhaled.
A University of Colorado study that showed that 30% of showerheads contained high levels of a pathogen often connected to pulmonary disease. It also found Stenotrophomonas Maltophilia was usually present; this bacterium sticks to the gunk inside showerheads and can cause serious infections.
Our advice is to unscrew the showerhead and soak it in a bowl of white vinegar for a few hours. This should be enough to clean it but a gentle scrub with a soft toothbrush might be needed to remove stubborn deposits. If you can’t unscrew the showerhead, pour the vinegar into a re-sealable plastic bag. Tie the bag around the showerhead with a rubber band, making sure the head is completely immersed in the vinegar. Leave for a few hours and run hot water through the showerhead to remove the debris.
If you have a nickel, brass or gold finished shower head, remove it from the vinegar after 30 minutes. Prolonged exposure can damage the finish of these fixtures. And don’t use bleach and chemical-based cleaners; natural products like vinegar will work just as well. Remember, if low pressure is still an issue after a few cleans, contact us and we’ll check it out.