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How to Descale and Clean a Tap Cartridge

Descaling and cleaning a tap cartridge is one of those jobs that no one ever thinks they will have to do. It sounds boring and, we won’t lie to you, it is a little boring. But, if the extent of your tap cleaning is a quick wipe around the edges with a damp sponge, your taps probably aren’t performing at their best, and you’ve got a fair bit to learn from this blog post.

Cleaning the cartridge inside your tap will prevent the build up of limescale. Excess limescale will affect the flow of water, and there’s nothing more frustrating than trying to wash your hands with a dribble, not a flow! Limescale has an unfair reputation as being difficult to get rid of but really, you just have to know how. It’s best removed with an acid such as vinegar or lemon juice and not, as many believe, brute force. While a good stress reliever, being too aggressive with your descaling can damage the finish underneath, which is why we recommend using a soft toothbrush to descale a tap cartridge.

Cleaning and descaling a tap cartridge is generally extremely easy. It’ll help make your taps last longer, save you money, and give you that unrivaled feeling of smug satisfaction that can only come from successfully completing a DIY job.

You Will Need

  • Adjustable spanner
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Crosshead screwdriver
  • Toothbrush
  • Vinegar
  • Bowl
  • Clean cloth

Get Cleaning!

- Mix together a lovely concoction of warm water and a small glug of vinegar in your bowl.

- The first step is to turn off your hot and cold water using your boiler or isolation valves. Open the tap to allow any excess water inside to drain away.

- Remove the tap head using your screwdriver, and take out cartridge retaining nut below it.

- Take out the tap cartridge using your spanner

- Soak the cartridge in the water and vinegar mix for around 10 minutes. If when you take it out, the cartridge still has limescale on it, it simply needs to be soaked for longer. Add a little more vinegar to the mixture, soak a cloth in it and wrap it tightly around the cartridge. You can then leave it for an hour or two.

- Using your toothbrush (and we must stress that this should be a toothbrush you don’t plan on using again!) gently clean around the filters and orifices within the tap to break down limescale. You can then wipe it clean with a cloth.

- Gently brush away limescale from the soaking cartridge, then remove it from the vinegar and wipe it clean with a cloth.

- Check the washers and ring seals are clean and free from limescale. If not then use your toothbrush to break it down and brush it away, removing excess with a cloth.

- Place your now spotless cartridge back into the body of the tap, in the same way you took it out.

- Cover with the cartridge retaining nut and screw the tap head on using your screwdriver. Be careful not to overtighten as this can damage your tap, as well as making it far harder to remove next time.

- Turn on your water and check that there are no leaks. If your water was flowing slowly due to limescale before, it should now be flowing freely.

- Stand back with your hands on your hips and admire your incredible work.

Simplicity is Key

Cleaning a tap cartridge really is that simple. But while we’re usually big advocates of the motto ‘better to try and fail than never try at all’, it doesn’t really apply in this case. We must stress that if you really don’t know what you’re doing when it comes to cleaning your tap mixer cartridge, it’s better to get a professional in instead! Doing something wrong can damage your taps and cost you a lot more money in the long run.

With your bathroom or kitchen tap now restored to tip top condition, you might find yourself with the toilet or bath cleaning bug too (we’re not sure this is actually a thing). We’ve got a whole load of DIY advice on our website to help keep your bathroom and kitchen fixtures lasting longer and performing at their very best. Check out our foolproof guides here, you’ll be a DIY king or queen in no time.

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