Showers are a big part of our lives: they can set the tone for the day, help us relax at night, and provide refuge from the stress of the day - but only if you have the right shower head. Finding the perfect one might seem a bit overwhelming (our site alone has nearly 1,500 models from more than 15 manufacturers!) but we're here to help.
A few things to consider at the beginning of your search:
- Do you have any special water conditions, like hard water? Those with hard water will need to regularly clean their shower heads, and should seriously consider having a water softener installed for their home.
- Are you on a well, or does your home have low water pressure? Some rain and "low-flow"/water-saving shower heads may not provide enough force for a quick, effective shower.
- Do you prefer a variety of spray settings, or a single rain-like setting? What kind of sprays do you want? Manufacturers offer everything from pulsating massages to nebulizing mists.
- Will the shower head be ceiling or wall mounted? Some heads perform best when mounted on the ceiling, or on a long arm. Avoid heads that could be too large to comfortably use in a small shower stall. Always be sure that your shower plumbing is secure and the head is properly installed, as some can be very heavy.
- Are you trying to match or coordinate colors and styles in your bathroom? You'll have to limit your options to those available in whatever finish.
- And of course - what's your budget?
And just like that, a thousand possibilities turn into maybe a few dozen - a much easier task! To further you along the path to a perfect shower, we've put together a bit of information on our most popular shower head types, as well as our top choices for each. With any luck, you'll be well on your way to the shower of your dreams!
I want my shower head to:
Water-Efficient Shower Heads
Water efficiency is definitely the new norm, but differences between federal and state regulations can mean that what's kosher in one state is a no-go elsewhere. Shower heads boasting the EPA WaterSense label use no more than 2 gallons per minute, which is where we've drawn the line with our selections. Some early water-efficient shower heads were plagued with performance issues, but today's models are able to achieve high-flow performance with a fraction of the water.
Multi-Function Shower Heads
Sometimes you want your shower to be light and relaxing. Sometimes you want to be under a waterfall. And then there are sore muscles, begging for a massage. If you like having options, you need a multi-function shower head. With most models having at least 3 unique spray patterns, you can always have something wonderfully different available to soothe and rejuvenate!
Rain Fall Shower Heads
Variety can be nice, but it's not for everyone. For the straightforward purist, nothing beats a "rain" type shower head. These heads usually hang straight down from the ceiling or a long 90 degree wall-mounted arm, delivering gravity-driven, unpressurized water. The experience is a gentler one, so beware, those of you with long, thick hair: it may take a while to get all that shampoo/conditioner out.
Filtered Shower Heads
To supply towns and cities with potable water, chemical treatment is necessary - usually in the form of chlorine. While the concentrations used are safe, some of the more sensitive among us can be seriously affected by chlorine, especially in the shower (where it's quickly absorbed through the skin and inhalation). These Sprite shower filters do a great job of filtering out much of the chlorine, as well as hydrogen sulfide, iron oxide, dirt, sediment, odors, and trace amounts of lead. Please note that these filters are for aesthetic purposes only, and are not a treatment for any medical issue.
A Note on Hard Water & Your Shower Head
Hard water stains can be difficult to remove, especially if they've been neglected for a while. Most water in the United States has hardness minerals from 3 to 50 grains per gallon (gpg). Other contaminants such as iron and/or manganese only make things worse. This hard water reacts with soaps and detergents to form the insoluble soap curd (aka soap scum) that you see on shower doors, as a ring around the bathtub, in dingy, yellowish clothes and on dishes. When water is heated, calcium and magnesium ions in hard water become insoluble and form the white chalky scale we are so used to seeing, clogging our shower heads.
To truly be rid of hard water, you need to install and maintain a water softener to remove all, or most, of the hardness minerals. But you can also just live with it and regularly do a deep cleaning in order to keep your fixtures and faucets looking their best. In between deep cleanings, shower heads with easy-clean nibs make it simple to wipe off most of the scaling.
You can find shower heads with rub clean nozzles all over our site, including these pages: