How to look after your shower

We all want to get value and longevity out of our purchases, as nobody wants to waste their hard-earned cash.

While some of this can be achieved by doing the necessary research before you make your purchase to ensure you aren't taking on a dud, there are often actions you can take to help get the most out of your possessions.

It certainly makes sense and it's something we hear about all the time. For example, driving in a particular way will help reduce the wear and tear on your car, while we tend to get our home heating system serviced every year.

So why should your shower be any different? After all, you use it every day, so there must be a certain point where the quality it provides starts to go downhill and it will eventually need either replacing or repairing.

However, just like a car, a boiler or any number of other products and devices out there, there are steps you can take to limit the chances of your shower dying off sooner, rather than later.

Cleaning your shower head

Over time, shower heads can experience a build-up of mould and mildew, and this is bad for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, harbouring a plethora of bacteria inside a device that you use to wash seems rather counter-productive. Not only does it fail to get you as clean as you might think, but studies have also proven these bugs are linked to a multitude of harmful conditions.

Pulmonary disease, lung disease and Legionnaires are just a few ailments you are putting yourself at risk of when you allow these germs to spread, with the dilution and dispersion of such bacteria through droplets of water turning your shower into a shockingly-convenient mode of transport for all sorts of nasties.

Away from any health concerns, a shower head full of grime can also limit its performance, blocking water from spraying out and affecting the pressure of your flow.

Fortunately, cleaning it isn't a difficult job to do. Shower heads are generally quite easy to remove and, from there, you can go about giving it a good service. While it might sound like something you hear in a housekeeping manual from the 1950s, one of the most effective ways of cleaning this part is to use a mix of white vinegar and warm water. 

Ensure the two ingredients are in equal parts and use it to scrub any excess gunk from the head using a brush. Once this is done, run it under warm water to get rid of any residue left over and then reattach it.

If you can't remove your shower head, then an alternative approach is to fill a plastic bag with your vinegar and water mix and attach this to the part, holding it in place with elastic bands. Leave it like this overnight and remove it, before running your shower on its hottest possible setting to clear out anything that's left.

Generally, metal shower heads tend to develop fewer pathogens than their plastic equivalents, so this is certainly worth bearing in mind if you plan to purchase a new one in the future. Investing in parts that have changeable filters is another feature you may wish to take into consideration.

Cleaning around your shower

The shower head isn't the only place where bacteria can grow and you might notice black marks around the shower unit and within the grout of your tiles.

This can sometimes contain the bacteria Stenotrophomonas maltophilia, which can potentially cause infection that is difficult to treat. According to a report in the Daily Mail, around 300 people in the UK die as a result of this germ every year.

However, this can sometimes be treated using a bleach solution. Remember to wear protective gloves and even a respiratory mask if the case is severe, before spraying a mixture of one part bleach to four parts water onto the affected area. After this, scrub the space clear using disposable towels or cloths. 

This last part is important, as you can't reuse them once they've treated mould - otherwise you risk spreading it elsewhere.

Cleaning your shower curtain

A dirty shower curtain can often be the cause of a bad-smelling bathroom, with all the grime you are washing off you inevitably falling to the base of the shower. While the majority of this will end up down the plughole, some residue may cling to your curtain.

When this happens, you have a couple of options. Firstly, you can remove it and put it in the washing machine - placing it between towels to ensure it gets properly scrubbed during the cycle. Adding baking soda to your usual mix of detergent and conditioner can make the job even more effective.

Alternatively, if this doesn't work, you can simply trim the curtain or invest in a new one. If you opt for the latter, try to find a replacement that is shorter than its predecessor - otherwise you'll be back to square one in no time!

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