Shower Head Cleaning Tips: Faq

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.
Click here to listen to an interview with Laura Baumgartner.

0 thoughts on “Shower Head Cleaning Tips: Faq

  1. It’s a good idea to clean your showerhead with a boiling water soak, or more effectively overnight in a bleach/water combo at least once a month. Not only will this destroy bacteria but can help dissolve minearl build-up that restricts water flow.

  2. Bathing in your own dirt? Yes! I learned not to do that when I was in junior high school back in the 60’s. That was a while back. But I did take a shower before I went to see my first rock concert …Jimi Hendrix. 🙂
    Much love to you. Going to soak my shower head in bleach and just see what happens.

  3. Hi..I saw your note on The Money Pit and Im trying to find out if I should replace my shower head or just try to clean it with something…what model name of shower head did you get for $2.99? I like that idea ..of not spendig alot of money..where did you buy it… can contact me at I am a beginner in this DIY thing lol.Linda

  4. While I’m not sure about the bacteria issues, drinking the first blast of water form the tap is always a bad idea because metals can leach out of the faucet and be in a higher concentration in that first blast of water.  Better to let it run for just a few seconds first.

  5. Another part of the study says that bleach is ineffective at removing and preventing bacterial growth, it actually can make it worse and can promote bleach resistant bacterial growth.

  6. Every week we take down our shower curtains bleach them and leave the shower heads soaking in bleach for a couple hours- always have. No one had to tell us there may be a potential for bacteria- just looking at the thing tells you that much.

  7. Greetings to you peoples- in my lands we are having many the traditions- One such as this for making the bacteriums not visit- One wearing one dozen glove of garlic in loop about the neck- or 2 clove garlic in each pant pocket for men, and around waist for the women- you will to be having long life and not fall to illness- you try you will see yes- Blessings to you hearts- Forgive English – I am much old and gypsy woman

  8. So with almost everything causing disease I can take a smoke occassionally Unless caught by the smoking police.
    I have always wondered why people took baths..myself included as it ws so comforting..but wondered how can we be cleaning ourselves with the very water we are sitting in?…

  9. Now we find out even our shower has bacteria that can make us sick. When will there be a study about what strange germs our pets are spewing all over our houses since just about everybody has at least 1 or 2 dogs or cats that go around the house and sleep on our beds, too even a lot of people won’t admit to it. We bombard ourselves everyday with some filth.If we start obsessing on it we could all go crazy and for me that wouldn’t take much.

  10. The second paragraph of this article says, “While to risk to those in good health is low, the question remains how can a showerhead effectively be cleaned?”

    Not only is the question not answered, it does not make sense. I believe the question should be, “While the risk to those in good health is low…”

    Are these articles proofread before they are published?

  11. The bath products in your bath (whether Avon, Bath & Body or whatever brand) aggravated a condition you were most likely born with know as Urethra Stenosis. The urethra carries the urine from the bladder & out of the body. If that tube(urethra) is too narrow, urine backs up & pockets in the bladder allowing bacteria to form as the urine stagnates. Urologists therefor have to stretch the urethra using metal rods.

    Females of all ages should be cautious of using all bath products (even little girls). If you like the hot tub or use a public spa or pool, you also run risks of infection. Best thing is to be on a daily long term antibiotic to help ward off such infections.

  12. speaking of research and who pays for it;…….. they recently released the results of a study done on the length of mens ring fingers…………lol……… you know that if your ring finger is longer then your index finger………………….you are an aggressive driver! Proven….by science…….lol….it is…now….a known fact……….ROFL!!! Truth, I saw it under “wierd news”. That is what the government is doing with our tax dollars, giving grants for stupid research that does not help the people in any way.

  13. I have always loved a nice hot bath. But, then, I kept getting urinary tract infections. After sufferering for a long time and taking RX’s, my urologist suggested “no baths”. He also said that Avon bath products provided him with more and more clients. I ended up in the hospital getting my urethra dialated to enbable bacteria to flow out easier. That was 7 years ago and I have not had a UTI since. I got a nice shower head with the hose and can take a shower with out washing my hair and it’s also great to clean the shower because you can spray it all down. Another thing, they are great to give your pet a shower and reach places you would otherwise not be able to reach. Sounds like an easy solution….just let the water run for a minute and then enter. There are pros and cons to showers vs. baths. I sure hope people don’t stop doing it….what a stinky world this would be! FYI: I do have a weak immune system from aterey disease, but I have not have a problem taking and shower…and cleaning the whole shower with Lysol Tub and Tile cleaner. I do sneak in a nice bath now and again, I just don’t put in a lot of bubble bath or other type products.

  14. i dont think there are many people who just walk in the shower and turn it on i do believe we like the water hot not cold so we let it run first before getting in people dont need to buy anything doctors will tell you soap and water is good to kill bacteria just buy antibacterial body wash

  15. CLR is a liquid cleaner (quite caustic so wear gloves)that removes CALCIUM, LIME & RUST
    deposits. These deposits appear as greenish or whitish on metal faucets, showerheads,
    inside your dishwasher (noticed more as rust if you have a porcelin liner). It also accumulates on the heating element in your dishwasher. You may see some white residude on the end of your kitchen sink sprayer/same deal as showerhead. These are all areas that require ocassional cleaning. If NOT cleaned when you have all these excess minerals in your water system, these items may eventually need replacing to work well again.

  16. I have beem taking showers for over 60years, I am now 80 and still healthy so a shower sure is not going to kill me any time soon. they are plenty of other thins to worry about, like what you eat and drink or smoke.

  17. Too funny…! So let me get this straight in CA we get a lot of water coming from Colorado correct? So could it be that some of that bacteria is coming from CO that is now stuck in my shower head?? Now there’s an idea for the makers of Brita … replace your shower head every six months brilliant..! The last question I have is who is spending all that money for the University Colorado to do this study? Now I am afraid that everytime I drop a log down the toilet and it splashes back up my corn hole bacteria would get up there and give me colon cancer…! Who comes up with these stories anyway??

  18. if you and your salad want to take a bacteria bath together by all means. really do we have nothing better to do with our lives than to bitch about bacteria in household items. lets remind every one that the human body is covered with bacteria weather you shower or not. like staff infections salad man you gonna put vinager on that.

  19. you have a better chance of being hit by a car or eaten by s shark than you do from bacteria in your shower head hell you could have a stroke right now in your bathroom getting ready to take a shower! who writes this crap anyways.. shower on!!!!!

  20. From the begining people and animals have carried disease from one place to the other. It constituted ignorance decades ago and carelessness in this day in age. There is no “our country”, some things like disease have no boundaries, and does not care if you are born in Mississippi or timbuktu.

  21. Vinegar is a natural (green) acid that will take care of lime build up and it is a natural cleaner that will kill household bacteria and mold. Take a ziploc bag and fill 1/2 way with vinegar, secure it around the showerhead with a rubberband for an hour or so, remove bag and you are done. No toxic fumes, no burning and irritation, no tarnishing brass fixtures.
    “Cleaning Czar”

  22. 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!

  23. 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!!!

  24. i agree with people staying home when they are sick or just feeling bad like in the beginning of an illness. But think about this…how 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. I live in an RV and the plastic showerhead is a molded all-in-one. To change it out means replacing most of the shower apparatus. Also, because it is molded, there is no way to “bleach and boil” because there are no parts that will come apart.

    A shower is all I can take as the stall isn’t big enough for a tub. Guess I will just have to take my chances or go around stinky and dirty.

    One saving grace, the park is on a well and the water is clean (no chemicals) just has a lot of lime in it.

  28. I agree with the previous poster. I was looking for information on “cleaning” the showerhead. But, since the last time I bought a new shower head, I opted for the $2.99 model instead of the $14.99 model, I can easily replace it every six months for that price. By the way, the $2.99 shower head works great!

  29. I just read the entire article titled SHOWERHEAD CLEANING TIPS. Not one word about cleaning the showerhead. Replacing it is not cleaning it. Who writes this crap? Better yet, who approves this crap for publication?

  30. As the former victim of filthy water in southern
    California, I can tell anyone that a filter on the water supply to the house works very well. Not only will it filter out any bacteria but it will also get rid of all sorts of stuff you really dont want in your body. You have to remember to replace the filter when it clogs, though.

  31. Well as a relief to everyone, I will continue to take a shower everyday, but guess what guys, I was born dying. Each day I live brings me closer to death. So might as well die from taking a shower as to any other form of dying!

  32. Did anybody try using CLR? It removes deposits of lime and any rust that might accumulate in the shower head. Whenever there is any accumulation of junk in the shower head, I use CLR and boiling water and that seems to return the flow of the shower head to new.

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