In a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder, shower heads were found to contain bacteria potentially dangerous to those that had weakened immune systems. Moreover, the researchers found that not only will cleaning with bleach not kill the bacteria, but in one case the levels were found to be three times higher post cleaning. 

While the risk to those in good health is low, the question remains how can a shower head effectively be cleaned?
Shower Head Cleaning TipsAccording to an FAQ document provided by Laura K. Baumgartner, Ph.D., a researcher who worked the project, shower heads are full of nooks and crannies that provide an ideal home for bacteria and other microbes. This also makes cleaning them very hard. Even though products with bleach remove many microbes, these mycobacteria grow back (and chlorination does not keep them out) after cleaning.
For most people, this is not really a concern. If you are immune compromised, you might want to consider changing out your shower head regularly. Additionally, microbes attach more easily to plastics than metal - if you are concerned, you may want to hunt down an all-metal (not metal-coated plastic) shower head.
However, Baumgartner suggests that people who have an immune issue (or are otherwise concerned) can:
  • Install an all-metal shower head (not metal-coated plastic), as many studies have shown that bacteria attach and grow better on plastic than metal
  • Change out your shower head every six months
  • Install a filtering shower head. There are several designed those that have immune issues such as this shower head, which was found effective in another study.
  • Take baths, which will create fewer aerosols.
Most importantly, the researchers do not believe that taking a shower is dangerous.  The best practice is to simply stay outside of the shower when you first turn it on, as that first blast may contain a higher load of bacteria.

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Bacteria in "clean" water (more bad news)

Recently I read elsewhere that carbon filters foster the growth of pseudomonas bacteria. So if you get a filter, it should be a special one that minimizes bacterial growth. Also, I found (searching Medline) that a study of patients who had been infected with Mycobacterium avium (the bacteria mentioned in the showerhead article) reports that Mycobacterium avium isolates were found in 15 out of the 29 bathrooms (52%), including specimens from 14 bathtub inlets and 3 showerheads. So sorry, taking a bath may not protect you!


Life is a dangerous journey. To shower or not to shower is like choosing to breath or not to breath. Is any clean air there somewhere?.


the next item the ( fear mongers ) will come up with is the air we breath. which we all know is killing us, what with all the pollutants, from cars,oil burners, coal burners, and most of all, it's all the people breathing,exhaling carbon dioxide.
that's one that AL GORE missed,i'm surprised he hasn't told everyone to stop breathing,to stop their carbon footprint!!!

staying home

i agree with people staying home when they are sick or just feeling bad like in the beginning of an illness. But think about long would you keep your job if you had to do that several times a year? in the usa we get penalized if we are not totally healthy. let's face it, i don't know a whole lot of people like that. i'm a nurse and taking off work when working in a hospital is deeply frowned upon. it's survival of the fittest.

Some interesting comments

Some interesting comments her..especially the one
about born dying..pretty good.

shower heads

The water already has clornie in it.So if we need to replace a shower we need to replace water lines,faucets and everthing in the house.Who ever wrote this must not be thinking.Just like people with swine flu who go to church and work and give this to everybody else because they are to dumb to stay at home.Now days if you get sick,stay at home don't give this to some ones child that could die.But these people come in to our country and they are so nasty and they are so ignorant they don't care.

What is CLR?

Chlorine! As in Bleach!

Shower Head or

Simply the water! It's bad, but what can you do?


I use vinegar when my shower head gets yucky. Works like a charm, its also greener, enviromentally safe too, unlike CLR which is loaded with dangerous acids.

A very caustic cleaner that

A very caustic cleaner that can be used to remove Calcium, Lime, and Rust; hence, the first initial of each element is the name of the cleaner. Can't be used on plastics or fiberglass. Some swear by it, others say it doesn't work. It took all the lime off my shower door, plexiglass and didn't bother my trim. Can't use it on the fiberglass shower though.