Handheld shower heads offer greater range of motion, mobility, and versatility. They are connected to flexible hoses that can reach up high, like for rinsing the top of your head, or down low, like for washing your dog or watering a plant. They can also extend for when you're chasing a wiggly toddler inside the tub or cleaning shower walls. Because you can direct the stream of water where you want it to go, handheld shower heads also conserve water.
If we've piqued your interest, continue reading our short shopping guide on what you need to know before purchasing a handheld shower head. We've also included our top product recommendations. Our favorite handheld shower head is by Moen: a high-quality chrome shower head that offers both secure attachment and flexibility.
Considerations when choosing handheld shower heads
Types of handheld shower heads
There are three basic types of handheld shower heads: single, combination, and sliding bar.
A single handheld shower head has a bracket to dock the shower head in an upright position so that it can also be used hands-free, much like a fixed shower head. The shower head is attached to a flexible hose, and as a unit they can be removed from the bracket for handheld use.
Also known as dual, a combination design includes both fixed and handheld shower heads. While one shower head remains fixed to the wall, the other can be removed from the docking bracket for handheld use. A diverter allows them to be used at the same time or individually.
Some handheld shower heads have a bracket that allows you to slide the shower head up and down a vertical bar while docked, making it height-adjustable. This is a nice option for households with people of varying heights for hands-free use of the shower head.
Another key consideration when purchasing a handheld shower is its material. The best ones are made from metal--like chrome, stainless steel, brushed nickel, or bronze--or are metal-plated. Plastic shower heads are also available, but these crack easily and can be slippery to hold. Metal handheld shower heads are far more durable. Just be sure the model you select isn't too heavy to hold for a period of time.
One of the luxuries of handheld shower heads is their spray settings, like mist, rain, massage, and water-saving. Basic models come with just a few settings, whereas premium models offer up to a dozen.
Choose a magnetic bracket to strongly and securely dock your handheld shower head for fixed use to reduce shifting or tilting or for when the shower head is not in use.
Some shower heads offer ionic or cartridge filters to soften hard water. Ionic filters are built into the shower head, filled with visible mineral balls. Cartridge filters may either go in a built-in compartment on the shower head or be fitted to the water source.
Flow rate and pressure
If you're looking to save money and/or water, choose a low-flow handheld shower head (2.0 GPM or less). If you're afraid this will sacrifice water pressure, choose a low-flow head designed to provide a high-pressure sensation.
Switching to a handheld shower head doesn't have to break the bank. You can find a basic model for as little as $10 to $20. If you're looking for all the bells and whistles that come with a luxury model, you can pay $40 to $100 or more. For a good-quality, mid-range handheld shower head, expect to pay between $25 and $40.
Q. I like ample water pressure. How does a low-flow shower head provide that?
A. Most up-to-date shower heads use a combination of air and water (oxygenated water) to produce a water flow that feels forceful without actually increasing water output. Low-flow shower heads may use this air volumizing method or utilize a pressure chamber in combination with smaller jets for a more forceful output.
Q. What's the best way to maintain my handheld shower head?
A. Bacteria and minerals can build up on your shower head, which is why many models opt for a grime-resistant silicone nozzle that can be simply wiped regularly for maintenance. If your shower head isn't silicone, or if you're in a hard water area and the nozzle is clogged with deposits, try soaking the shower head in vinegar for two hours. Then set the head on its highest spray setting to clear out any vinegar.
Handheld shower heads we recommend
Best of the best: Moen Engage Six-Function Spray Head
Our take: Handheld shower head with top-of-the-line construction and a durable, sleek design.
What we like: Attractive chrome finish. Magnetic dock. Six settings and great water pressure. Hassle-free installation.
What we dislike: Pricey but many users find it worth the splurge.
Best bang for your buck: Hydroluxe Handheld Shower Head & Rain Shower Combo
Our take: A dual handheld shower head at a bargain price.
What we like: Comes with two shower heads that can be used separately or together. Multiple settings, including a "pause" setting. Affordable.
What we dislike: Hose on the short side.
Our take: A high-pressure handheld shower head kept clean by antibacterial technology.
What we like: Minimizes mildew and other yucky growth. Anti-clog nozzle. Offers six settings and great features for a competitive price.
What we dislike: Massage setting is noisy.
Ana Sanchez is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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