How to clean a shower: from descaling the shower head to getting your tiles to sparkle

We show you how to clean a shower to make it sparkle in just a matter of minutes

How to clean a shower
(Image credit: Colin Poole)

Want to learn how to clean a shower properly? Grimy showers do not help with starting a day well, and aren't particularly hygienic, either. If you're scrubbing and scrubbing, and the limescale and mould are still there, you need our pro tips to banish them once and for all. 

While cleaning the shower head and surrounding area is a bit of a boring job (unless you're cleaning freaks like us!), if you’re armed with the best handy tips it should only take you 10 minutes to clean, with very little elbow grease.

The biggest challenges you may face are water marks, smeared tiles and mouldy grout. Also a sluggish drain and a clogged shower head can quickly ruin the showering experience. Here are our fast fixes for cleaning your shower that will leave it sparkling like it belongs in a luxurious health spa...

For more spa-like bathroom ideas head over to our gallery. And if it's more cleaning tips you want, check out our dedicated guide to how to clean a bathroom.

You will need:

How to clean the shower area

After showering always leave your shower door or curtain open; this prevents a humid atmosphere and stops mould growing. Also wipe down wet tiles with a plastic-bladed window wiper or squeegee to stop watermarks forming. 

For a weekly clean, spray your shower tray with an all-purpose bathroom cleaner and scrub clean using a scourer. Rinse with warm water and wipe dry using a soft microfibre cloth or paper towel. In hard-water areas use a limescale remover once a week. 

For eco-friendly cleaning white vinegar is brilliant for putting the sparkle back into your shower. Mix a solution of half water, half vinegar into an old spray bottle and spray on any limescale, leave for 15 minutes. Depending on how bad the problem is, you may need to use the rougher side of a non-scratch scouring pad and some elbow grease. Rinse off with warm water and buff dry with a cloth.

If your shower is over a bath, follow our guide to how to clean a bath too.

grey toned herringbone subway tiles in shower with recessed shelf unit

Don't forget to clean the tiles and grout surrounding your shower. This herringbone, subway tile design is by Fired Earth

(Image credit: Fired Earth)

How to clean grout between tiles

To begin cleaning grout fill an empty spray bottle with an equal mix of white vinegar and water. Spray the whole area generously and allow the solution to soak in for 5 minutes. Brush back and forth over the affected grout with an old toothbrush or a grout brush. Rinse with warm water. 

In a small bowl make a paste with two tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda and a few splashes of water. Dip your toothbrush or grout brush in the paste and work it into the grout. Spray the area with your vinegar and water solution. The vinegar will cause the baking soda to bubble up and will start to work away any mould or soap scum. Scrub the grout lines with your brush to remove build up, then rinse with warm water.

How to clean a shower head

If your water flow isn’t as fast as it once was or there is water shooting around your shower in all directions, the holes in your showerhead are probably clogged up. 

First use a toothbrush to quickly scrub of any dry debris from around the holes. Mix a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water (you'll need about ½ pint) and pour it into a plastic bag. Put the plastic bag around the showerhead so the holes are submerged in the liquid. Secure the bag using an elastic band or a cable tie. Leave to soak for at least 20 minutes, or for best results leave overnight. Remove the bag, then use a scourer to wipe away loose sediment and finally run the shower on hot to flush out the holes.

How to clean a glass shower door

It’s best to give your shower door a daily clean rather than an occasional deep clean. After every shower quickly mist with eco cleaner and wipe down with a clean cloth. Buy an inexpensive shower squeegee and use it every time you shower. The few seconds it takes you to do this will dramatically reduce the amount of soap scum build up on the glass. 

For stubborn grime use a mix of bicarbonate of soda and water. To get started use 8tbsp of bicarb and add enough water to mix into a thick paste. Using a nonabrasive sponge, scrub the glass. Rinse using a 50/50 white vinegar and water mixture in a spray bottle. Dry using your squeegee or paper towels.

Arysto Eight Sliding Door with Side Panel Pink by Pure Bathroom Collection

A mucky shower enclosure will make the whole room look grubby so keep yours clean. This is the Arysto sliding door enclosure from Pure Bathroom Collection

(Image credit: Pure Bathroom Collection)

How to clean your shower curtain

Clean ugly mildew stains off your shower curtain by putting it and a few used towels into your washing machine. Add ¼ pint of your normal washing liquid and ¼ pint of bicarbonate of soda to the load. Wash it in warm water on your machine's regular cycle. Add ¼ pint of white vinegar during the rinse cycle. Let it drip-dry; don’t put it in a dryer. 

To prevent mildew in the first place, regularly soak your shower curtain in a salt water bath for a few hours, let it dry, then rehang, this a chemical-free way to avoid mould.

If you want any more tips on how to get rid of mould and mildew go and check out our tips. 

How to clean your shower drain

It’s not pleasant to stand in dirty, lukewarm water because your shower’s drain has stopped working properly. In fact, a clean shower is always a well draining shower. The most likely clog culprit is hair, there is a simple way to fix this. If you're desperate, untwist a wire coat hanger and slide one end inside the drain to pull out any clumps of hair. Better still, use a contraption that's specifically designed to remove drain hair, such as a drain snake; or try a gel drain unblocker.

For a thorough clean, pour ¼ pint of bicarbonate of soda down the drain, followed by ¼ pint of white vinegar and cover the drain with a wet cloth. Let it bubble for ten minutes. Remove the cloth and rinse the drain with boiling-hot water straight from a kettle. 

How to clean a shower with citric acid

Citric acid is a much underrated, effective cleaning agent that's cheap and easy to use at home to achieve a clean shower. You will need to apply gloves to use it to avoid skin irritation, but basically, mix half a cup of food grade, powdered citric acid into a bucket of warm water, and clean everything in your shower: it's good for tiles, toilets, shower heads...It's equally effective for soap scum and limescale. 

Tips for keeping your shower clean

  • Buy a sink strainer or drain catch to stop hair from clogging the plug hole.
  • To prevent grout going mouldy spray your shower with a vinegar and water mix before you get out of the shower, two to three times each week will make a huge difference.
  • Keep windows and doors open for 10 minutes after every shower or use an extractor fan to keep your bathroom well ventilated.
  • Use your shower squeegee every day, keep it handy so you can give the walls a quick wipe before stepping out of the shower.

Read more about keeping your bathroom clean: