Tap aerators are a great way to save some money on your water bills, but there are certain tasks and facilities which aren’t best served by a plastic tap aerator. But you may find that you need to know how to remove tap aerators on UK taps when you want to address a build-up of grit or minerals. If you want to give it a good clean or get the best performance out of a bath tap, or shower and washer water flow – you’ll want a heavier, stronger flow than tap aerators will allow and will have to find out how to remove a plastic tap aerator quickly and with little fuss.

Tap Aerator

What is a Tap Aerator?

A tap aerator is a cheap and effective way to cut your energy and water bills, by reducing the amount of water you use each time you turn up on the tap by up to 60%. These easy-to-apply units fit onto the end of the taps or are inserted inside the spout of the tap. They work by controlling the water amount that flows through the tap as they mix water and air but don’t affect the amount of water pressure.

How to Remove Plastic Tap Aerator?

The process for quickly and safely removing an aerator is pretty straightforward and shouldn’t take you long if you follow our 5 tips on how to remove plastic tap aerators below.

Note: Not all tap aerators can be removed unless you are adding a replacement. In some cases, you may have to replace the whole tap.

What You Need

  • Rubber Gloves
  • Dry Cloth
  • Needle Nose Pliers
  • Hair Dryer
  • WD40 or a different Penetrating Oil
  • Hacksaw
  • Flat Screwdriver

1 – Unscrew the Aerator by Hand

Your first tip for how to remove a tap aerator is quite simple; try removing the unit by hand. Put on your rubber gloves and then get started. The majority of plastic aerators will have been screwed in by hand and shouldn’t be all that hard to remove by the same process. So, before you get out your toolbox, try simply working it free by yourself. All you have to do is look down the spout and turn the unit either clockwise or counterclockwise depending on which direction has more give. With most plastic aerators you should find that they will unscrew quite easily until they eventually drop from the end of the tap.

If you run into trouble you need to make sure that both the tap and your rubber gloves are dry, and you could use a piece of cloth to provide more grip as you turn. You should also make sure to remove the rubber ring that is usually in place along with the unit, to avoid problems if you want to reapply a new aerator down the line.

Note: There can often be a build-up of dirt and grime, particularly if you live in a hard water area. This means that the aerator could be a little stuck.

2 – Try Removing a Tap Aerator with Pliers

If you haven’t been able to remove the aerator unit by hand you can try using pliers to work at a particularly tight application. You can protect the tap aerator if you want to try to reuse it by wrapping a cloth around it before you attach the pliers to it. Open up the pliers and grip the aerator in the jaws, making sure you’re not also pulling on the tap spout. Then begin turning the unit a quarter rotation at a time. At a certain point, you should begin to feel the aerator begin to give to a point where you can abandon the pliers and continue to unscrew the aerator by hand.

Try to be gentle with the grip, if you squeeze or bend the unit within the tap you may end up making the whole process more difficult.

3 – Add Some WD40 or Other Penetrating Oil

Add some penetrating oil to the aerator and leave it to sit for a while before trying to remove the unit again. Wipe off the oil with a dry cloth to improve the grip and grab a hold of the pliers once more to get started on unscrewing the aerator again. Once it starts to give, speed up the process by unscrewing the unit by hand.

4 – Work at the Aerator with a Hacksaw

If after all of this, the plastic tap aerator still isn’t budging, then take a flexible hacksaw or stanley knife and work it across the bottom edge of the aerator. Make sure that you are not sawing into the tap itself and concentrate on creating enough give in the plastic so that it can be bent and moved. If you can’t do this by hand, then use a flathead screwdriver to gently work the unit free.

5 – Remove the Spout to Work on the Aerator More Freely

If you have been struggling with getting the aerator free, you might have to consider removing the tap from the sink entirely, so that you can move the tap around and work on the aerator properly. You will be able to get a bit more purchase as you work as the plastic with a hacksaw, Stanley knife, and screwdriver.

Note: Remember to turn off the water supply before you attempt to remove the tap if you don’t want to deal with a refreshing flush of water to the face as you loosen the nut next to the tap.


Removing a plastic tap aerator shouldn’t prove a difficult task in most cases and is definitely something you can handle yourself without having to call the plumbers in! Try unscrewing the unit by hand first and then move down through our steps for how to remove tap aerators when these units prove a little tougher to get moving!

4 Ways to Remove a Tap Aerator Infographic

Plumbing Wizard Tips

“Tap aerators will save you money on your water bill so if you are removing one, we recommend that you replace it!”

“If you are struggling to remove the aerator with the tap in place, remove the tap head to make the aerator easier to access!”

“If using a hacksaw, you will have to be careful not to damage the tap itself – the last thing you want is to replace the whole tap head!”

“If you have a metal aerator that is stuck fast, try applying some heat to the fixture – a household hairdryer should do the trick and help the metal expand slightly!”

Frequently Asked Questions

Are tap aerators any good?

Yes, tap aerators are definitely worth it! They can save you money on your water bills by adding air to the water flow. This means that you’ll use less water overall, which is great for both your wallet and the environment. Plus, they’re easy to install and require very little maintenance. So, if your taps don’t have them and you’re looking for a way to reduce your water usage, tap aerators are a great option!

Should I add a tap aerator?

A tap aerator is a small device that fits onto the end of your tap and mixes air with the water, creating an aerated stream. They are relatively inexpensive devices and can pay for themselves quickly in water bill savings. Additionally, they help to conserve water by adding air to the flow, which means you can do the same job with less water.

Where is the tap aerator located?

The tap aerator is located on the spout. It is a small, cone-shaped piece that screws onto the end of the spout. The aerator diffuses the water as it comes out of the faucet, which helps to reduce water waste.

Do I need a tap aerator?

Tap aerators offer several benefits. They can reduce water consumption, save on water bills and conserve resources. They also reduce splashing, provide a more consistent stream of water, and can even improve the water pressure in low-pressure systems.

How do I clean a tap aerator?

Over time, aerators can become clogged with mineral deposits or debris. To clean or replace one:

  • Unscrew the aerator from the tap spout. Pliers might be needed, but use a cloth to avoid scratching the finish.
  • Take the aerator apart and clean each piece. Soaking it in white vinegar can help dissolve mineral deposits.
  • Reassemble the aerator and screw it back onto the tap. If cleaning doesn’t resolve flow issues, consider replacing the aerator with a new one.

Are there different types of tap aerators?

Yes, there are several types of aerators, including:

  • Laminar flow aerators: Produce a stream of water without mixing it with air, which is beneficial in hospitals to avoid spreading airborne contaminants.
  • Swivel aerators: These allow you to direct the flow of water, useful for double sinks.
  • Dual-function aerators: Provide both spray and stream functions.

Can using an aerator affect water temperature?

Generally, an aerator won’t significantly affect the water temperature. However, since it mixes air with water, in some situations, there might be a slight perceived drop in temperature, especially if the hot water takes time to travel from the heater to the tap. For most daily applications, this change is negligible.


Lee Pearce is not just a master plumber; he’s a veritable Plumbing Wizard. With over 30 years of experience in the trenches of pipes and drains, Lee has become the go-to sage for DIY plumbing, saving homeowners thousands in potential call-out charges. As the founder of Plumbing Wizard, he’s dedicated to demystifying the complexities of home plumbing, offering easy-to-follow advice that stands the test of time and pressure. His online blog is a treasure trove of tips, tricks, and tutorials that empower everyday individuals to take charge of their home’s plumbing health. Lee’s practical wisdom is not just about fixing leaks; it’s about imparting confidence and self-reliance. When he’s not writing or elbow-deep in a plumbing project, Lee is passionate about educating the next generation of DIYers, ensuring that practical skills are passed down and preserved.

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