Fix Your Faucet Aerator: Chores You Didn’t Know Existed

Heather says:

If your faucet’s water pressure has been slowly falling there may be a simple fix.  Did you know you have to clean the aerator? I can hear some of you now, what is she talking about?

The aerator increases pressure by forcing the water into many tiny streams. Over time mineral deposits from hard water and debris can clog the screen preventing the flow of water.

Thankfully this is very easy to fix and typically the only tools required are an old toothbrush and white vinegar. Dry your hands and the faucet to ensure a good grip, and unscrew the aerator’s housing. Yes, lefty loosey, righty tighty applies here.

If it is too tight to be unscrewed by hand, try using a rubber glove to improve your grip. If it’s still too tight, you may need a pair of channel lock or tongue and groove pliers. (These are the ones whose jaws open up to the size you need). Before using the pliers, place a large rubberband around the outside of the aerator’s housing to protect the metal. You don’t have to wrap it, just loop it around and hold it in place while you adjust the grip of the pliers. Only use the pliers to loosen the piece; finish unscrewing it by hand.

Examine the screen.

Disassemble the unit, place the aerator in a small dish of white vinegar and scrub gently with an old toothbrush to remove any mineral buildup. Sometimes the aerator is nothing more than a tiny screen that has seen better days. Replacements can be found in the hardware department.

Reassemble the pieces, and screw the unit back onto the faucet and you’re good to go.

Good luck!


  1. debs on March 9, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    This was a nice read. Great work. My kitchen faucet is dripping and it’s quite irritating. Can you advise how to fix it.
    Many thanks.

  2. Alec on February 26, 2010 at 3:24 am

    You know, this all makes perfect sense and yet it's something I've never once given an ounce of thought. Thanks for the nice tutorial, though, as I'm sure I'll notice a decrease in pressure at some point in time. It's always nice to know how to do something before it happens no matter how simple it may be as opposed to freaking out and trying to figure things out on the spot.
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  3. David W on February 19, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    That is a handy fix. Thanks for the post. I like the rubber glove idea to improve friction.
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  4. sugahippeaux on February 13, 2010 at 5:42 am

    Well, I'll be! I checked it out and I had a flow restrictor AND it was caked with debris. Bluergh. And that is the faucet I use to brush my teeth. Now everything is clean and flowing!

  5. Alex on February 12, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    I really wasn't aware why the pressure has been slowly falling…I never thought I could fix it myself, so easy and cheap. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Becca on February 12, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    My kitchen sink's stream has been sneaking back down the faucet and into a crevice behind the sink…..making a mess. I read this last nightand went and checked and, sure 'nuff, that screen was all caked up and partially blocked. We went and got a new one this morning and I've actually got a straight, strong flow of water in my kitchen now. Groovy…..

    • HeatherSolos on February 12, 2010 at 4:27 pm

      I'm so glad it was a simple, cheap fix. I hope the water hadn't done any permanent damage to your counters.

  7. ThatBobbieGirl on February 12, 2010 at 2:47 am

    I've had to do this many times, especially when we first moved in — new construction, new well, so for a while the water had all sorts of tiny little gravelly bits in it that got caught by the screen in the faucet.

    It's not just when the water pressure goes down, but also when the stream isn't looking like it should – going all wonky instead of a nice straight flow. I never did the soaking thing, just rinsed out the tiny little rocks.

    Oh, also — it took me a while to figure out why the water flow into the washing machine wasn't what it should be. The water was flowing so slowly that it nearly doubled the length of time it took to do a load of wash. It was this exact same problem, but I hadn't made the connection mentally. It was harder to do than the sink, but well worth the effort.

    Tip: when you do this to the washer, find out where to turn off the water flow to the washer BEFORE you start unscrewing anything!

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    • HeatherSolos on February 12, 2010 at 4:26 pm

      Why am I having flashbacks to the movie Mr. Mom? Hard water causes a lot of problems with plumbing. I feel very lucky to not have to deal with it.

  8. Stacey Crew on February 11, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    I'm going to do this right now! I'm afraid of what I'll find, but be happy I checked it out. Thanks for the great how-to, Heather.
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