Is the flow at your faucet so low it takes 10 minutes to rinse one dish? The lack of pressurized flow is almost always due to a clogged aerator. The aerator is a small device at the tip of your faucet. It contains a screen(s) in it that does two things—filters out particles and creates a smooth neat flow of water (so it doesn’t chugalug out of the spout).

Over time, these screens get clogged and cause the water to lose pressure as it flows out of the faucet. These particles may also cause the spout to sputter. Simply cleaning these screens will get that full flow going again!


Aerator unscrewed from faucet

Keep in Mind

  • Whenever you take something apart, be sure to remember what order they go in. In this instance, place the aerator parts down one at a time and in order from left to right, as if you’re creating an “exploded” view of the aerator and all its parts. Then work from reverse putting it back together.
  • Some aerators are flush within a wider nozzle, making them less obvious to locate and remove. Look for flat ridges on the aerator where you’ll grip the pliers.

What You’ll Need

  • Penetrating oil (possibly)
  • Rag
  • Old toothbrush
  • Tongue-and-groove pliers (with taped jaws, as to not mar the faucet finish)

The Project

  • Close the drain so you don’t lose any parts!
  • If the faucet is older or you can see built up mineral deposits around the aerator, spray the aerator with penetrating oil and let it soak in for about 15 minutes to make the unscrewing easier.
  • With the pliers, unscrew the aerator.


  • Brush out the screen. Depending on the aerator there may be more than one screen with accompanying rings.  Carefully pull them apart and brush out the particles.
  • Run the water without the aerator in place—you may be surprised at what comes out!
  • Reassemble the aerator and screw it back to the faucet.
  • Snug it tight with the pliers.

Watch me replace an aerator right here!

About the Sprayer

When the kitchen sprayer gets clogged, the same low pressure/sputtering may occur. In this case, look at the tip of the sprayer nozzle to see if there’s a joint where it can be unscrewed and follow my instructions above. If it looks like it’s one piece, or if the sprayer is built into the faucet spout (like the one pictured below), try soaking the whole face of it in a 1:2 part vinegar/water solution, then scrub off the build up and use a needle to clean out the sprayer holes.


Conserve Water with High Efficiency Aerators 

There are high efficiency aerators that are low-flow (use less gallons per minute than standard aerators), but because of their design provide steady powerful pressure. Some, like the Neoperl ® are also designed to resist lime build up which will clog up your stream.

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Got A DIY Question? Ask-The-Expert!

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Fix-It Friday is an exclusive Women You Should Know® editorial series authored by seasoned veteran of home improvement, Norma Vally, the former host of Discovery Home Channel’s series “Toolbelt Diva” and a show on Sirius Satellite Radio by the same name. The weekly column is designed to inspire women – weekend warriors, aspiring handywomen, and even seasoned DIYers – to take on home repairs and maintenance projects with confidence and gusto.