Nothing lasts forever, including appliances and the other household fixtures we rely on. With time, dishwashers might leave a film on your dishes or your washing machine might leave your clothes a little dingy. Your shower head might become blocked with minerals, reducing water pressure and making your daily shower less enjoyable. Luckily, there’s a way to fix that. Learning how to clean a shower head with baking soda is a great introduction to the benefits of baking soda for household cleaning.
What Is Baking Soda?
Getting Familiar With Baking Soda
We’re all familiar with baking soda as an ingredient in many recipes. Some of us might have an open box in our fridge for deodorization or maybe we’ve used it as toothpaste in a pinch. Everyone seems to have a box of baking soda in their kitchen, even if it’s not used daily. Baking soda is a great material to have around the house for many reasons; however, you’re probably not using it to its full potential!Baking soda is a natural substance that works as a gentle cleanser, ingredient, and deodorizer. Learning how to clean a shower head with baking soda is an easy process because baking soda is inexpensive to buy and easy to use.But where does baking soda come from? What, exactly, is this salty white powder and why does it have so many useful characteristics?
From Salt Pans to an Orange Box
Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is a type of salt. It’s derived from sodium carbonate, which is also called soda ash, which in turn is taken from a mineral called trona. Trona is found in alkaline regions and saltpans throughout the world. Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and California are just a few locations in the United States with the type of salt deposits that produce trona. Other locations include Kenya, Turkey, and Egypt.There’s no shortage of sodium carbonate in the world. Trona mining productions in the United States— especially in Wyoming— are going strong. After trona is mined, it’s taken to a plant for processing. There, the trona is broken apart and heated, which transforms it in into soda ash.The soda ash is then mixed with water and swirled in a centrifuge to remove impurities. Next, the soda ash is mixed with carbon dioxide to create baking soda. From there, it’s ready for packaging and sale.
The Baking Soda Controversy
Baking soda is renowned as an all-natural, non-toxic cleaner. However, it has a downside. As mentioned above, most of the baking soda we find in grocery stores starts out as a mined mineral. All large mining operations will alter their local environment in some way.Even though mining does disrupt the environment, many people believe that having baking soda as a solution to the daily damage done by toxic household cleaning products makes up for it. If you’re concerned about the environmental effects of trona mining, conduct some research. Based on what you learn, decide whether replacing store-bought cleaners with a baking soda cleaning solution makes sense to you.
Does Baking Soda Really Work as a Cleaner?
The Classic Baking Soda and Vinegar Mix
The traditional baking soda and vinegar cleaner mix is 1/4 baking soda and one tablespoon of vinegar. A quick Google search on cleaning with baking soda can leave you feeling a little skeptical. Is baking soda as great a cleaner as everyone claims? Generally, the answer is yes! Cleaning with a mixture of baking soda and vinegar is one of few things in life that actually lives up to the hype.
How It Works
Before you start cleaning with vinegar and baking soda, think back to those elementary school volcano demonstrations: that’s right, things will get bubbly. Baking soda is a base, so it attracts protons. Vinegar is an acid; it rejects protons. When baking soda and vinegar are combined, a frenzy of moving protons creates the famous fizzy foam that breaks up messes. This includes hard water residue on shower heads, which we’ll get to in a minute when we go in depth on how to clean a shower head with baking soda.
A Natural Cleaning Choice
Many people prefer to clean with baking soda and vinegar because it’s nontoxic. If you wipe up the baking soda mixture thoroughly so that pets and children don’t get into it, you really have nothing to worry about. Unlike many store-bought cleansers, baking soda and vinegar don’t create harsh odors. (Some people strongly dislike the acid odor of vinegar, but it fades fast.) Best of all, the fizzing action of baking soda can be more effective than expensive store-bought cleaners.Besides learning how to clean a shower head with baking soda, make your life easier by learning how to use baking soda and vinegar to clean many other things. For example:
You can clear a clogged drain using baking soda. To do this, pour baking soda down the drain, and then follow it with vinegar. Let the mixture sit and bubble in your drain for about ten minutes before rinsing with hot water.
Another great use for baking soda and vinegar is clearing out residue in your dishwasher. First, run your dishwasher with baking soda in the detergent compartment. When done, run it a second time with vinegar in the compartment. Not only will the interior of your dishwasher brighten up, but you’ll find that your dishwasher works more efficiently and your dishes come out cleaner.
Clean Washing Machines
Your washing machine could use some help, too. Run a load with water, no soap, and just some baking soda and vinegar to clean out hard water deposits.Now that we’ve talked about the many possibilities for cleaning with baking soda, let’s get into the details of how to clean a shower head with baking soda.
How to Clean a Shower Head With Baking Soda
Does It Need to Be Cleaned?
Think about your last shower: was the water pressure up to par? How about the spray? If you’re like most of us, your shower hasn’t worked at its full potential since you moved into your home or apartment.Now go and take a look at your shower head. Is there a white or gray build up around the holes? Does the shower head look grungy or tarnished? If so, it’s a good idea to figure out how to clean a shower head so you can enjoy the maximum benefits of your shower.The main reason many shower heads develop a white limescale build-up is because of “hard water.” Hard water is water with a high level of minerals in it. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Hard water can’t hurt you, and you can drink it and bathe in it without concern. The primary reason hard water can become an issue is the mineral build up.Learning how to clean a shower head will eliminate the problem of mineral residue clogging your shower head.
Time to Clean
Before starting to clean your shower head, check and be sure that no one in your household needs to take a shower for a little while. The shower head cleaning process requires that your shower head sit overnight in the cleaning mixture, so that will put your shower out of service until morning.The next step is figuring out whether your shower head can detach. The steps for how to clean your shower head differ depending on whether your shower head can be detached and removed from the bathroom.
Now it’s time to gather your supplies. You’ll need:
- Baking soda (of course)
- White vinegar
- Rubber gloves
- Small mixing bowl
- Measuring cup
- Large heavy-duty Ziploc-type bag
- Strong rubber band or zip ties
- Dinner plate or shallow bowl
- Old toothbrush
Now that you have your supplies together, it’s time to really practice how to clean a shower head with baking soda and get fizzy. You will create a baking soda and vinegar cleaning solution and insert or “hang” your shower head in the strong plastic bag.
Making Your Solution
First, put on your rubber gloves. Mix 1/3 cup of baking soda with one cup of vinegar in the mixing bowl and pour the solution into the plastic bag. The next steps depend on whether your shower head detaches.
Detachable Shower Heads
If your shower head detaches, bring your shower head to a table or kitchen counter. Insert the shower head into the bag with the baking soda solution. Adjust it so that the surface with the water holes and limescale buildup is completely covered by the baking soda and vinegar mix.Tighten a rubber band or zip tie around the neck of the shower head to keep it steady in the bag. Place the bagged shower head on a plate or shallow bowl (in case of leaks) and let the baking soda solution work overnight.
Undetachable Shower Heads
If you can’t remove your shower head from your shower, you must bring the cleaning operation to the bathroom and “hang” the bag inside the shower.Do your baking soda and vinegar mix in the bathroom sink. Fill the strong plastic bag with the solution, grab your rubber band or zip tie, and hold the bag up so that the shower head is immersed in the mix. (This will look similar to a horse with a feed bag: the “face” of the shower head is covered with the bag.)Fasten the bag by twisting a strong, thick rubber band around the top of the bag. You’ll leave the bag over the shower head overnight.
The Morning Reveal
After your shower head has soaked in the baking soda and vinegar mix overnight, you must do a few polishing touches before you fully enjoy your new shower experience:Put on a grubby t-shirt or something else that you’re not planning to wear outside of the house that day.Put on your rubber gloves, remove the shower head from the bag, and grab the old toothbrush.If you have a detachable shower head, bring it to the sink and rinse the remaining mixture and residue from the shower head.Using your toothbrush, get into the holes and scrub, adding a little more baking soda and vinegar at this step to help with the scrubbing action.Rinse your shower head and then hop in the shower! If you have a detached shower head, reattach it.Turn on the shower and let it run for a few minutes on hot to clear residue from the holes.At this point, your shower head should be clean. If for some reason you’re not satisfied, try repeating the process once more.
Now that you know how to clean your shower head with baking soda, you’ll probably want to try using the baking soda and vinegar mix to clean appliances and other items around your home. Go for it! This non-toxic cleaning solution is an open secret when it comes to household cleaning. Feel free to spread the word!Knowing how to clean a shower head with baking soda is not going to transform your life. However, if your morning shower has a little bit more water pressure and more spray, you might find yourself with an extra spring in your step. A nice strong shower is just one of the little things that can brighten our days and make life feel a touch easier.