This part of your shower is infested with bacteria and could have a disastrous health impact

  • Bacteria such as mold and mildew may be living in your showerhead.
  • The bacteria in your showerhead could be making you sick.
  • Cleaning your showerhead is easier than you think.

Do you remember the last time you cleaned your showerhead? Unfortunately, if you’re like most people, the answer is probably never. Aside from occasionally cleaning the exterior of the showerhead, most people rarely clear out the mold and mildew that may be accumulating just inside. 

The reality is that each time you shut off the water after a shower, moisture remains in the showerhead, which is a breeding ground for mold and mildew. In other words, when you turn on your shower, your water is traveling through unknown organisms and bacteria.

2 studies show which bacteria may be growing in your showerhead

What’s worse, a study published about the bacteria in showerheads points to the real possibility that these tiny living organisms may be making us sick. The article published in the American Society For Microbiology studied the bacteria in 656 households in the U.S. and Europe.

The study found that the most common living organism found in the showerheads was Mycobacterium which can cause lung infections. However, before you write off taking showers, the study found that most of the bacteria in your showerhead are likely harmless. That’s not to say that there are still harmful organisms in there.

The Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences further examined DNA specimens and found that the mycobacteria grow better in places with municipal tap water than those using well water. Matt Gebert, one of the researchers, said, “There is a lot of interesting ecology at work, and it allows us to begin to understand how it can impact human health.”

According to the study, the reason for the prevalence of mycobacteria in municipal water seems to stem from its resistance to chlorine, the chemical used by municipalities to disinfect their water.

Cleaning your showerhead is easier than you think

Luckily, cleaning your showerhead doesn’t involve wrenches or complicated steps. In fact, it doesn’t even include taking your showerhead apart.

Better Homes & Garden published an article showing how easy cleaning your showerhead is. This cleaning process will clean the inside of your showerhead, including the mineral deposits that grow on the outside and cause clogs.

Using the following household items, you can ensure your showerhead is free of bacteria before you take your next shower.

These are the items you need to protect against showerhead bacteria

  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Rubber band
  • Plastic bag big enough to fit over your showerhead

The first step is to put a rubber band over the showerhead and onto the pipe that goes into the wall. We will use this rubber band in the following steps to secure the bag over the showerhead. 

After stretching the rubber band over the head, fill the plastic bag with distilled white vinegar. Next, fit the plastic bag over the top of your showerhead so it is completely submerged in the vinegar. 

Use the rubber band to secure the plastic bag onto the pipe to hold it in place. Then, with the showerhead submerged in vinegar, wait about an hour to thoroughly disinfect everything inside. After an hour, take the bag off and run the shower for a minute or two to thoroughly flush out any bacteria and remaining vinegar from the showerhead. 

If you still have clogged openings in your showerhead after this process, the next step is to use a soft bristle toothbrush dipped in vinegar to gently scrub the water ports. This will help break up the debris and hard deposits that tend to clog showerheads. You can also use a toothpick for those stubborn openings to dislodge the remaining mineral deposits.

Tips to remember

  • Be sure to use vinegar rather than chlorine bleach to disinfect your showerhead. The previously mentioned study found that chlorine can actually increase harmful bacteria.
  • Depending on your showerhead, hard-bristled toothbrushes may mar the surface. Be sure to use a soft-bristled toothbrush to avoid scratching the surface.
  • Remember to work in a space with ventilation or take breaks. Strong fumes from chemicals can harm you, so open windows, turn on fans and take breaks when you’re cleaning your shower.