If you live in a place that has very hard water – especially if you aren’t able to install a whole-house water filter – you probably have a problem with limescale residue and unsightly buildup forming on your faucets and in your shower. As the water dries or evaporates, minerals are deposited on the surface and in the nozzles of your fixtures, clogging them and hardening on the surface, restricting the flow of water. Touch Clean technology aims to make the hard-to-clean shower head a thing of the past… but what is it, and how does it work?
TouchClean is an industry shorthand for what amounts to a relatively simple design change that’s starting to become popular in a wide variety of shower head styles. Instead of your traditional hard plastic or metal nozzles, TouchClean shower heads like this Delta Three Setting one expel water through soft, flexible rubber nubs. This seems like a relatively minor change, but because of the way mineral deposits interact with your shower head, it makes all the difference.
You see, hard water deposits still build up on Touch Clean shower heads, but rather than hardening on traditional rigid shower head faces and becoming almost impossible to clean, especially without damaging the metal finish, all you have to do to get the deposits off a shower head like this Brizo RSVP is gently rub the soft nozzles with the tip of your finger.
When you touch the rubber nubbins – even gently – it moves the surface the mineral deposits are clinging to, causing them to loosen, break up, and fall away like they were never there. While on a rigid face, you’d have to chip the deposits away or try to dissolve them, with a softer texture, it’s infinitely easier to upset the buildup on your shower head. And because water flows through the flexible part of the shower head, you’ll never get buildup able to clog the nozzles. A little swish of your finger across the face of this Raincan will release any deposits inside the shower head, and they’ll flow out the next time you turn the head on.
The best part is, it isn’t just high-end, expensive shower heads that have this tech. You can get something very basic, like this Domed Shower Head, as well as a big elaborate rainfall showerhead, for about the same price you’d pay for an equivalent non-Touch-Clean version of either – and you won’t ever have to try to clean out your shower sprayer with a paperclip!
The drawback is that only the spray nozzles are made of this flexible material, so you’re still going to have to periodically wipe down the face and underside of your shower head to prevent water stains from splashes and dribbles. That is, of course, unless it sits perfectly flat and horizontal like this Arzo Rainfall Shower Head, in which case it probably isn’t seeing all that much splashing, and it should drain straight down when you turn the shower off.
If lime deposits aren’t just a problem in your shower, don’t worry. While Touch Clean technology is most often applied to shower heads, it’s becoming more common in kitchen faucets as well. The basic premise is the same: replace your standard aerator with one made of soft rubber nubs that loosen lime buildup. So far, they mostly come built into faucets with retractable heads that double as spray nozzles, like this Water Efficient Pull-Out Faucet.
The difference is that faucets like this Single Handle Pull Out have a regular flow in addition to the shower-like spray option (like your normal secondary sink sprayer). This means that up close the faucet looks a little like a hand shower – a small aerator in the center surrounded by soft plastic spray nozzles. But again the principle is the same – swipe your finger over the nozzles, and an buildup will break up and rinse away, just like that.
If you’re genuinely sick of clogged, crusty faucets and shower heads, but aren’t able to install a filter, this is definitely an easier, less expensive alternative. Not only will your fixtures work better, but they’ll look better, too – and you won’t have to worry about buying or using harsh, potentially finish-damaging chemicals, just to keep your sprayer clear and working right. If you decide to buy one, I’d love to hear about it in the comments!