How Should I Clean My Faucet Aerators?

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Water from your town or city's water system contains minerals and other substances that build up over time in your water faucet's aerator. The aerator is the screw-on metal or plastic screen that water passes through as it leaves the faucet. When aerators are clogged with minerals and other fragments, water pressure may be reduced and water from the faucet is often sprayed irregularly off to one side or shooting out from the faucet. Cleaning your faucet's aerator is not difficult and is cheaper than replacing the unit.

Supplies Needed

  • Before removing your faucet's aerator, gather the supplies you will need. Make sure you have a small piece of cardboard (4" x 6"), pair of adjustable pliers, a roll of masking tape, a pair of rubber gloves, a bowl, some paper towels, a old rag, a bottle of white vinegar and a old toothbrush. It is best to have everything ready by the side of the sink so you don't have to go looking for supplies later.

Removing the Aerator

  • Make sure you place a piece of cardboard over your sink's drain pipe to keep any parts from the aerator from going down the drain. It is not necessary to turn off the water supply. Next, wipe the faucet and water spout with a old rag or piece of paper towel to dry the surface. Then wrap a strip of masking tape around the aerator located under the water spout. The aerator may be small, depending on your faucet. Use a pair of adjustable pliers to slowly turn the aerator clockwise to remove it from the spout. As the part comes off, you may see some rock-type fragments and some rust fall out of the part.

Cleaning the Aerator

  • Place the removed aerator and its contents (screen, washer and any other components) in a bowl containing one cup of white vinegar. Make sure the bowl is clean and free of any food or other fragments. Let the parts soak in the vinegar about five minutes. Then use a toothbrush to scrub the aerator. If you see any cracked or broken parts within the aerator--like the washer, screen or other parts---replace them with new parts. If the washer is hardened, replace it immediately with one that fits the aerator. Replacement parts for your faucet and aerator are available at your local hardware or home improvement store.

Reassemble

  • Once the aerator and its parts are cleaned, dry them with a paper towel. Reassemble the screen, washer and any other parts back into the aerator and screw the part back onto the faucet with your hand until it is tight. If the faucet or aerator is old, use a small strip of Teflon or plumber's tape around the threads on the spout where the aerator goes to keep the part from leaking. You can also use a pair of pliers to tighten an older aerator to a faucet. Use just enough pressure to get the part tight on the faucet.

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