How to Clean a Faucet Aerator

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(Updated Nov. 1, 2021)

What Is a Faucet Aerator?

An aerator is a small attachment you’ll find on the tip of most faucets. It’s a small device with a fine-mesh screen that’s usually screwed on. As water flows through the mesh screen, it will add air, filter out debris, and even water streams to create fewer splashes. An aerator is not to be confused with a water filter, which affects the whole home’s water supply.

what is a faucet aerator?
Many faucet aerators can easily be removed by hand.


It’s important to clean a faucet aerator periodically to remove buildup, which reduces water flow. Keeping an aerator clean also helps reduce the amount of lead in water. Pipes, solder, or fixtures that contain lead can break down or leach into the water. As water runs through the aerator, particles containing lead may lodge in the screen.

How Faucet Aerators Get Clogged

Most tap water contains minerals. These minerals leave deposits as water evaporates. You may have noticed deposits on fixtures, glasses or eating utensils. Water flow is reduced when minerals or other deposits fill the holes in the aerator’s screen.

How Faucet Aerators Get Clogged

Most tap water contains minerals that leave deposits as water evaporates. You may have noticed deposits on fixtures, glasses, or eating utensils. Water flow is reduced when minerals or other deposits fill the holes in the aerator’s screen.

How Can I Tell If My Faucet Has An Aerator?

If you touch the end of the faucet and feel a screen, your faucet has an aerator. Faucets with an attached water filter don’t have aerators. Some faucets contain an aerator that’s embedded rather than attached. For these faucets, you can refer to the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions before disassembling the fixture to find the screen.

How Often Should I Clean A Faucet Aerator?

It’s a good idea to clean them when they’re clogged. Some people recommend cleaning an aerator as often as once a week while others say twice a year is enough. If you want to keep up on maintenance you can replace or clean an aerator every year or so. They are inexpensive and easy to install – the key is to make sure they function properly.

Simple Steps to Cleaning a Faucet Aerator

Cleaning a faucet aerator removes hard-water buildup
The housing, screen and mixer of this aerator show the effects of hard-water buildup.

Supplies:

  • Rags
  • Wrench
  • Old toothbrush
  • Safety pin
  • White vinegar
  • Small tub or glass

Instructions:

  1. Place the rag in the sink to prevent small parts from falling down the drain.
  2. Use your fingers to remove the aerator from the faucet. If you need to use a wrench or pliers, wrap another rag around the faucet to protect it from scratches.
  3. Take the aerator apart, noting the order of assembly for later. Your aerator may have several parts, including a housing, rubber washer, screen, or mixer.
  4. Place all parts in a container with vinegar. Soak for about five minutes.
  5. Scrub the parts with an old toothbrush. Use a pin to poke through any remaining clogs in the holes in the screen or mixer.
  6. Rinse and reassemble the aerator and screw it back into place on the bathroom or kitchen faucet.

If the aerator or washer is in bad shape, you can visit a home improvement store and buy a new one. When you clean a faucet aerator periodically it improves the water quality and flow from your tap. If your water is brown or rust-colored, there could be a problem with the pipes or other plumbing fixtures. Contact Simpson Plumbing for a plumbing inspection or pipe repair.

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