Vacation Rental Housekeeping: How to Clean Shower Heads 

Here’s a showerhead cleaning guide for AirBnBs, B&Bs, and other small rental and lodging businesses.

silhouette of a woman taking a shower

Showerheads apparently can be detrimental to one’s health if not cleaned regularly.

If you own a small rental and lodging business and do the housekeeping yourself, you know that cleaning bathrooms can be a pain. Showerheads, in particular, can be tough to clean with all that gunk and mold that do not seem to be removed with any cleaning agent. This is especially the case when they have not been cleaned for months or even years.

How do showerheads get dirty?

Showerheads get dirty by the accumulation of minerals, slime, tiny debris, and organic matter found in water. Whether your establishment is using well water or city water, microscopic matter can build up on the showerheads. These materials will accumulate with dust, dead skin, and pollen that may get caught in the holes where water comes out.

Is the dirt on showerheads harmful to our health?

The University of Colorado Boulder held a study over ten years ago and found that an alarming 30 percent of showerheads showed significant levels of Mycobacterium Avium, a pathogen linked with pulmonary disease. The study also found that Stenotrophomonas Maltophilia, which can cause infections like endocarditis (heart), peritonitis (internal organs lining), and meningitis (cerebral spinal fluid), favors the black gunk that can gather around showerheads and even taps, a bacteria causing infections in growing frequency.

Mycobacterium Avium

Mycobacterium Avium, pathogens found in showerheads, under the microscope. |

More recently, in 2018, a study found that several strains of bacteria within the genus Mycobacterium can thrive in showerheads and sometimes lead to certain lung infections.

Appalling data, right? So along with the toilet bowl, bathtub, and sink, cleaning shower fixtures is a MUST. Experts also suggest cleaning weekly to avoid gunk buildup, but at least once a month is good for a thorough cleaning. Even the best shower fixtures need proper care and maintenance!

So how can you remove large buildups of gunk, slime, mold, and bacteria from showerheads?

Follow these 10 simple steps for thoroughly cleaning your showerheads:

  1. If the showerhead is wall or ceiling-mounted, unscrew it first.
  2. Fill a container or bowl with a cup of white vinegar and three cups of boiling water.
  3. Let the showerhead soak for about five hours or until the gunk buildup is loosening. However, if the showerhead is brass, brushed nickel, or gold, remove it from the solution after 30 minutes as the vinegar might damage the finish.
  4. Remove the showerhead from the solution, then run hot water for about 60 seconds to remove any mineral deposits stuck inside.
  5. Start scrubbing with a sponge or old toothbrush, focusing on the areas around the holes. 
  6. After scrubbing, run the showerhead under hot water to remove more residue.
  7. Repeat the process until all gunk is gone.
  8. Wipe dry with a soft lint-free or microfiber towel.
  9. Remove the water spots by buffing the surface with a dry lint-free towel.
  10. Screw the showerhead back to the wall or ceiling. 


person wearing orange gloves cleaning back of shower head

Don’t forget to clean the back of the showerheads too!

How can you quickly clean showerheads?

As for the weekly cleaning maintenance, fill a trigger spray with a vinegar and water solution and generously spray the showerheads. Doing so will prevent mineral deposits and slime away and prevent bacteria and mold from breeding.

You can also lightly scrub the holes with a sponge even without unscrewing them from the wall or ceiling. Allow hot water to flow for about a minute to remove the residue, then buff dry with a clean, lint-free towel.

What cleaning techniques should you avoid doing?

It is important to know which cleaning techniques should be avoided when cleaning your showerheads. Take note of the following:

  1. Cleaning with bleach. Never use bleach as it can increase the number of Mycobacterium gordonae in showerheads three times! This bacteria can cause infections in immunocompromised people. 
  2. Using commercial cleaning products. Commercial cleaning products are formulated with harsh chemicals that may damage the surface of showerheads. This is especially the case for those fixtures with brass, brushed nickel, matte black, and oil-rubbed bronze finishes. 
  3. Scrubbing the showerheads with coarse brushes. It’s pretty tempting to use coarse brushes for layers and layers of accumulated gunk. However, showerheads with certain finishes, like those mentioned above, can get scratched or worse, lose their beautiful finish. Use softer brushes and avoid scrubbing too vigorously. This is why soaking the showerhead in a vinegar and water solution is important to loosen the gunk.

Are newer shower sets easier to clean?


Ceiling Mount Bathroom Luxury Rain Mixer Shower Combo Set from SR Sunrise

SR Sunrise Ceiling Mount Bathroom Luxury Rain Mixer Shower Combo Set

Modern shower fixtures are much easier to clean than units with much older styles. The former features sleek designs that make cleaning and wiping them a breeze. So it's also recommended that you invest in new shower sets to make cleaning less of a tiring job while keeping guests in awe with your beautiful shower systems.

The Ceiling Mount Bathroom Luxury Rain Mixer Shower Combo Set from SR Sunrise, for instance, has both a fixed showerhead and a handheld one with a sleek, easy-to-clean design. The fixed head is easily removable from mounting, while the handheld showerhead comes with a long, 1.8-meter hose. 

Our takeaways

Cleaning the showerheads in your guest bathrooms is definitely a must to prevent guests from contracting infections, especially those with compromised health. Accumulation of dirt on showerheads is unavoidable, as water contains microscopic particles. To avoid them building up, weekly cleaning is recommended. 

However, resist using commercial cleaning products and coarse brushes that may damage the finish of the showerheads. This is especially the case with fixtures with certain powder finishes.

If your showerheads are hopelessly gunky, it’s a sign that you upgrade to newer shower systems with beautiful, sleek designs. Doing so will not only make cleaning much easier for you, but you will also make showering a memorable, relaxing experience for your guests.