In the past several years there have been a number of scary public health news stories about the need for a clean shower head. We think it’s important to know the health reasons to care but also what’s reasonable in terms of having a healthy home. So, we’ve got the top 3 health reasons for having a clean shower head, as well as some simple cleaning and product tips.
Reduce Bacteria: A 2009 CNN report was widely circulated about research presented at the National Academy of Sciences that showed how a dirty shower head could deliver a blast of bacteria (mostly mycobacterium avium).
Possibly Prevent Chrohn’s Disease: The Telegraph reported a story in 2014 about how there might be a link between Chrohn’s disease and shower head bacteria.
Keep LungsHealthy: The main concern from the 2009 National Academy of Sciences study was that by inhaling bacteria from a dirty shower head you could contract pulmonary problems due to the microbes in the steam from the shower head.
After all those scary health reasons to have a clean shower head, short of throwing your old one out what can you do to keep it clean? Let’s be reasonable. The resulting conclusions of all studies so far are that a clean shower head is all that most of us need to worry about.
Here’s some top tips:
Vinegar Soak: Unscrew the shower head, soak it in vinegar overnight, scrub it with an old toothbrush in the morning, and rinse. This should get most of the scale and other deposits off the shower head. Real Simple magazine has one of the best solutions of how to clean a showerhead that cannot be detached. How often to clean? No hard fast rule. Perhaps once every month or two.
Pull out the screen: See if you can pop out the shower head’s basic debris filter screen to clean out any trap particles (this is for removable shower heads). Then, put the rinsed filter back into place before screwing the shower head back into place.
Use a Shower Head Filter: You’ll still want to periodically clean your shower head, but the filter will help to collect a lot of the mineral deposits and chlorine. Perhaps other debris as well. The Culligan WSH-125 is a good example, as it often lasts 6 months before you need to change the filter. Aquasana also sells a variety of shower head filters. Many people report less dry skin and healthier hair with a filter.
Let the water run: The Telegraph reports “[let] water be run for a short period before getting in to wash away the a pathogen which may be lurking in shower heads and pipes.”
Add Ventilation: A bathroom that stays wet and continually has high humidity is a breeding ground for bacteria. If possible, crack open a window to improve air circulation. Or add a ventilation fan to extract the extra humidity and reduce the possibility of bacteria build up.