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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

47 Models Considered
68 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
989 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best handheld shower heads

Last Updated June 2019

When it comes to bathing versatility and convenience, handheld shower heads beat their fixed counterparts any day of the week. Whether you need to reach high, low, or somewhere in between, the flexible hose on a handheld shower head allows you to take water spray direction into your own hands.

Handheld shower heads can make it easier to bathe children, pets, the elderly, and yourself, but did you know one can also help you save water? By guiding the water spray to where you need it most, you can drastically reduce the amount of time spent rinsing off soap suds, shampoo, or conditioner. Indeed, a handheld shower head is a worthwhile addition to any bathroom, but with countless models on the market, choosing one can be tough.

If you're drowning in the deluge of styles, settings, and features, you’ve come to the right place. Here at BestReviews we strive to make every shopping experience smoother, simpler, and more satisfying. Read our detailed guide below to find out everything you need to know about choosing the best handheld shower head. When you’re ready to buy, check out our top shower head recommendations.

Don't forget to check weight specifications before you buy. Overly heavy handheld shower heads can be bothersome and unwieldy, especially for children and the elderly.

Key considerations

Type

While designs and features can vary greatly from model to model, handheld shower heads can be divided into three basic categories: single, combination/dual, and sliding bar.

  • Single: For most people, this traditional design is what comes to mind at the mention of handheld shower heads. These typically consist of a shower head bracket, a flexible hose, and the shower head itself. Most brackets allow the shower head to be docked in an upright position for hands-free use. In terms of placement, single handheld shower heads tend offer a bit more versatility than combination shower heads.

  • Combination/dual: These shower heads are a clever combination of fixed and handheld models. If you're on the fence about choosing a shower head type, a combination shower head can offer the best of both worlds. Although combination shower heads connect to the same water source, they come fitted with a diverter that allows them to be used separately or together. While this integrated shower head design is undeniably convenient, the fixed portion of combination models requires that they be set at a height that's comfortable for both fixed and handheld use.

  • Sliding bar: The most notable difference between a sliding bar handheld shower head and others is its mobile docking bracket. Rather than being fixed, this handheld shower head has a sliding bracket attached to a long bar. By docking the shower head and sliding it up or down the bar, users of any height can easily choose the best position for hands-free use. These shower heads come as either single or combination models.
     

Variations

Just like fixed shower heads, handheld models have different head shapes, sizes, and functions. Although certain styles might seem more attractive than others, some are designed to serve a specific purpose. With this in mind, try to avoid choosing a shower head based on aesthetics alone. Common handheld shower head styles include the following:

  • Rainfall: Whether round, square, or rectangular, rainfall shower heads have an extra-large head for a wide spray pattern that delivers a gentle, rain-like effect. If you enjoy the sensation of being fully immersed in a steady downpour and don't mind sacrificing a bit of pressure, a rainfall shower head is a solid choice.

  • Ionic filtered: Most ionic filtered shower heads have a transparent handle filled with mineral balls, beads, or stones. This not only lends them a unique appearance but also helps purify and soften hard water while nourishing skin and hair.

  • Cartridge filtered: If you live in an area with hard water but prefer a more traditional look, shower heads that use a replaceable filter cartridge might be a better option. Specialized models have a cartridge compartment built into the shower head while others have a water filter cartridge fitted to the water source.

  • Stick: These ultra-modern handheld shower heads feature a straight design that resembles a stick or wand. This eliminates the common mounting problems that can arise with top-heavy handheld shower heads and also offers a sleeker look that many find appealing. Despite the futuristic design, many stick models have limited settings and features. However, most do excel at their primary purpose, which is to deliver a consistent spray in an easy-to-grip shape.
     

Flow rate and pressure

  • Flow rate: In an effort to conserve water, the maximum flow rate on most modern shower heads is capped at 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm). If you're interested in saving as much water as possible, consider a low-flow shower head of 2.0 gpm or less.

  • Pressure: If you’re concerned about the impact that a lower flow rate will have on water pressure, we don't blame you. Many people enjoy the soothing sensation of a powerful stream of water, especially on tired, achy muscles at the end of a long day. Luckily, many low-flow shower heads are designed to provide a high-pressure feel without using more water. Most models achieve this by adding air to the water to produce a volumizing effect without increasing the actual water output or by using a high-pressure chamber and smaller jets to push water out with increased force.
     

Hose length

A short hose can be incredibly limiting and frustrating to work with. For superior freedom of movement, we recommend choosing a handheld shower head with a reasonably long hose. Most users find a hose length of about 60 inches to be more than adequate for personal use. For extra reach and improved flexibility across a broad range of tasks, consider an extended hose length of between 69 and 84 inches.

Materials and finish

Handheld shower heads are typically made of plastic, chrome, stainless steel, bronze, or brushed nickel. Unless you're looking for an ultra-lightweight or budget-priced model for short-term use, we advise against choosing an all-plastic handheld shower head. Slippery, soapy hands, incorrect docking, knocks, and bumps can easily send a handheld shower head crashing to the floor, and even the strongest plastic is likely to crack if dropped repeatedly. Metal or metal-plated shower heads offer superior durability and are infinitely easier to match with existing bathroom fixtures.

EXPERT TIP

Not all handheld shower heads come with accessories like hoses and brackets. Unless you already have compatible components, we recommend choosing a ready-to-fit kit for the most convenience.


EXPERT TIP

If you opt for a filtered handheld shower head, keep in mind that both ionic beads and filter cartridges need to be replaced every few months.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Sometimes a great shower head comes with an underwhelming hose. The good news is that most accessories are easy to replace. Before you buy another model, look at the price of compatible hoses to see if it’s worth replacing the entire unit.


Staff  | BestReviews

Shower head features

Whether you're looking for something that's functional or fun, economical or indulgent, modern handheld shower heads come with an array of nifty features for your showering pleasure.

Variable spray settings: Today, all but the most basic handheld shower heads come with at least a few spray settings. Luxury models can boast as many as a dozen. If you like the idea of being able to switch between rain, mist, massage, and water saving, be sure to check the number and type of spray settings on each shower head as you review your options.

Maintenance: In a bid to reduce bacterial growth and mineral buildup, many shower head manufacturers have adopted silicone jet nozzles. With a smooth, nonstick texture, silicone nozzles are naturally grime resistant and can be cleaned simply by wiping. Some models can even be “touch cleaned” at the press of a finger. Still others go the extra mile with antimicrobial coatings to make sure that every shower leaves you clean, fresh, and germ-free.

Magnetic bracket: Sometimes getting a handheld shower head securely docked in its bracket is easier said than done. Aside from being incredibly frustrating, a sliding or tilting shower head can make hands-free use nearly impossible. It also increases the risk of dropping and potentially damaging the unit. If you're tired of wrestling with your handheld shower head, a magnetic bracket could be the ideal solution. With ultra-strong built-in magnets, these brackets draw the shower head handle in and hold it securely for stress-free docking.

LED lights: A multicolored LED light show can be a great incentive when it comes to getting kids to wash up without a fight. However, some LED shower heads go beyond mere fun by using different light colors to indicate water temperature. This is an exceptionally handy feature if you have a tough time getting the water temperature just right and find yourself dreading the thought of stepping into yet another scalding or freezing shower.

Bluetooth speakers: If you enjoy listening to music while you shower, Bluetooth speakers are a fun feature that can enhance your bathing experience. Completely waterproof, these speakers are built into the shower head, so you can stream some mellow music directly from your device’s downtime playlist. Love singing in the shower? Use your shower head as a mic and belt out your favorite tunes while you bathe.

Understated elegance, powerful functionality

The Moen handheld shower head just about ticks all the boxes with its sleek good looks, high-quality construction, and ergonomic design. Boasting six indulgent spray settings, a fuss-free magnetic docking system, kink-resistant hose, and durable chrome construction, it's hard to find fault with this premium handheld shower head.

Handheld shower head prices

Handheld shower heads come with price tags to fit every wallet. Depending on your needs, you can expect to pay as little as $10 for a basic model to over $100 for a luxury combination handheld shower with all the frills.

Inexpensive

Whether you're on a tight budget or looking for something temporary, you’ll have no shortage of options to choose from that cost $20 or less. Although budget-priced handheld shower heads can offer a decent number of features and admirable performance, they might fall short in terms of durability.

Mid-range

If your budget has a little wiggle room, handheld shower heads that cost from $25 to $40 can deliver a combination of a high-functioning convenience and more durable construction in a wide range of styles.

Premium

Handheld shower heads that cost over $40 generally boast sleek designs, high-quality construction materials, and advanced features. While you might have to shell out more for a high-end model, it should be a pleasure to use and will outlive its cheaper cousins by a long stretch.

Affordable indulgence

Overflowing with features, the Hydroluxe shower head is a budget-priced model with a luxurious feel. With an attractive finish, two shower heads, an adjustable bracket, generous hose length, easy installation, and a grand total of 24 combined spray patterns, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better combination shower head at this price point.

Tips

  • Think of your handheld shower head as a handy, multitasking household assistant. Handheld shower heads aren’t just for bath time. To get the most out of your new shower head, use it to rinse off shower doors, walls, and curtains, fill tall buckets that won't fit under the tub faucet, or give Rover a rinse.

  • Try removing the shower head flow restrictor if water pressure is low. If you live in an area with low water pressure and find yourself feeling disappointed by a trickling shower head, don't return it just yet. In accordance with the National Energy Act, all modern shower heads come fitted with a flow restrictor to help conserve water. While it isn't usually recommended by manufacturers, and it might increase your water bill, most shower head flow restrictors can be removed with a bit of tinkering.

  • Don’t twist or kink the hose. To extend the usable life of the shower head hose, try to avoid twisting or stretching it during use, and always make sure that it's free of kinks after docking the shower head.

  • Don’t feel limited by the accessories included with the installation kit. If you're replacing a fixed shower head, purchasing a longer or shorter shower arm will allow you to choose how near or far from the wall it rests. In the same vein, you can easily customize an existing shower head by adding a diverter valve and attaching your new handheld shower head to create your very own combination model.

Other products we considered

Whether you like the idea of a visual temperature indicator or simply want a touch of novelty, the DreamSpa Water Temperature Controlled LED Handheld shower head is a solid choice that's packed with both fun and functional features, including temperature-controlled LED lights, five spray settings, and rub-clean water jets. If a premium, high-pressure combination shower head is more to your taste, the Delta Faucet In2ition Handheld shower head is a standout option, offering a sleek shower head that docks directly into its fixed partner, four powerful spray settings, and a high-quality build. Intrigued by ionic shower heads but don't want to spend a packet on an unfamiliar design? The Luxsego Ionic shower head comes with an affordable price tag, impressive pressure, and all the potential benefits of ionic filtration.

Large shower heads can be appealing if you enjoy fuller coverage, but these also tend to lean or tip over more easily. If you decide on a larger shower head, a secure bracket is essential.

FAQ

Q. What's the best way to clean my shower head nozzles?

A. Mineral deposits can build up in a shower head nozzle over time, especially if you live in an area with hard water. For this reason, we recommend opting for a handheld shower head with easy-to-clean silicone nozzles from the get-go. However, if you're already dealing with dirty or clogged nozzles, your best bet is to try soaking your shower head in vinegar for a couple of hours before turning it onto the highest possible spray setting. If this method fails, it might be time to consider a replacement.

Q. Do high-pressure shower heads use more water?

A. Not necessarily. As explained above, most modern shower heads use oxygenated water or smaller jets to produce a more forceful flow without increasing water output. However, if you remove the flow restrictor valve or happen to come across an older model with a flow rate that exceeds 2.5 gpm, your shower head will automatically use more water.

Q. Do LED shower heads require batteries?

A. No. In fact, LED shower heads are fully water powered, so there’s no need to fret about wiring issues or having to constantly replace batteries.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Erica
    Erica
    Writer
  • Katie
    Katie
    Editorial Director

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