How to Clean and Repair a Clogged Faucet

Regular aerator clean-ups make a big difference in water flow

Aerators are found on almost every kitchen and bath faucet, and if water flow slows or becomes uneven, clogs inside the aerator are usually the cause. Fortunately it’s an easy problem to fix.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Remove the aerator

If the flow from your kitchen or bathroom faucet isn’t what it used to be, the aerator is probably plugged. An aerator can clog slowly as mineral deposits build up, or quickly after plumbing work loosens debris inside pipes. Usually, a quick cleaning solves the problem. Remove the aerator (Photo 1) and disassemble it. You may need a small screwdriver or knife to pry the components apart. Scrub away any tough buildup with an old toothbrush (Photo 2) and rinse each part thoroughly. Gunk can also build up inside the faucet neck, so ream it out with your finger and flush out the loosened debris.

If the mineral buildup resists scrubbing and you have a standard cylinder-shaped aerator, you can replace it. Take your old aerator along to the home center or hardware store to find a match. If your aerator has a fancy shape (like the one shown here), finding a match won’t be as simple. So try this first: Soak the aerator parts in vinegar overnight to soften mineral buildup. If that doesn’t work, go to any online search engine and type in the brand of your faucet followed by “faucet parts.” With a little searching, you can find diagrams of your faucet and order a new aerator.

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Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • 4-in-1 screwdriver
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Slip joint pliers
  • Utility knife

You'll also need an old toothbrush

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.

  • Vinegar
  • Electrical tape