Your Shower Curtain May Be Dirtier Than You Think – Here’s How to Clean It

How to Clean a Shower Curtain

Shower curtains are items homeowners often forget about when it comes to cleaning. As a result, many people may not clean their shower curtains as often as they should.

Stains, mold, mildew and soap scum can make them dirty and unsanitary, so cleaning them regularly is important. Homeowners may not realize they can put plastic shower curtains in a washing machine to clean them, making them as good as new again.

If you have ever Googled “how to clean a shower curtain,” you are in the right place. For those who are unsure about how to clean your shower curtains, do not worry, because it is a lot easier than you may think.

Materials Used for Shower Curtains

Before you wash your shower curtain, it is important to understand what type of material it is made from. This will help you determine the best way to clean it.

The prices of shower curtains vary depending upon the material they are made from. Shower curtains made from waterproof, synthetic material, such as vinyl or polyester, are inexpensive and so you can change them fairly often if you get tired of the design. As the material holds up well to getting wet, they usually last for a while.

If you want something classier, you can choose a fabric curtain made from linen, silk, cotton, or hemp with an additional waterproof liner. This increases the cost but gives you more options to achieve the look you want. It also means you can replace the liner if necessary without having to replace the curtain.

Fabric shower curtains go outside of the liner and offer decorative value and privacy. The liners have to be washed in the same way as plastic shower curtains because they often develop mildew and mold due to the high humidity in the bathroom.

Taking Care of Your Shower Curtain

Shower curtains and liners become dirty over time due to the build-up of soap scum, stains, mildew and mold. How you care for your shower curtains will depend on the material they are made from.

Mildew can develop on plastic as well as fabric shower curtains. You can help to avoid this by airing them out every time you shower. This involves opening them out fully to allow them to dry properly, rather than leaving them gathered together on one side.

Once a day, after everyone has finished showering in the bathroom, it helps to spray the inside of plastic curtains with a 50 to 50 mix of water and vinegar. This will prevent mold and mildew from forming. Use this mixture to spray the bottom of a shower liner once a week as well when you clean your bathroom.

Putting Shower Curtains in the Washing Machine

You can pop shower curtains and liners in the washing machine on a gentle cycle with warm water, using a mild detergent.

Do not wash them alone. Instead, put them in with some white towels. The towels help to protect the curtains from wrinkling and scrub away dirt at the same time. Stop after the rinse cycle as the spin cycle is unnecessary for plastic shower curtains or liners.

If you are still worried about damaging your shower curtains, you can choose to wash them by hand instead. Detach them from the hooks and lay them on a tile floor. Use a paste of baking soda and wipe them down with a microfiber cloth to remove dirt.

To wash a fabric curtain, remove it from the rings and fill your washing machine with warm water on the largest load setting. Add detergent and put in the fabric curtain. Use a gentle setting and once the cycle is complete, hang the curtain back on the curtain rod to air dry.

How to Clean Shower Curtain Rings

While your shower curtain or curtain liner is in the wash, you can use the time to clean the shower curtain rings.

Fill the sink with hot water and add a cup of white vinegar. Soak the rings while the curtain is in the washing machine. Drain the sink, rinse the rings in warm water and scrape off any remaining dirt.

How Often Do You Need to Wash Shower Curtains?

At the very least, you should aim to clean your plastic shower curtains once every three months. Preferably, you should do it once a month. The same applies to the liner of a fabric shower curtain.

Cleaning Supplies for Shower Curtains

There are different cleaning supplies you can use to wash your shower curtains. Some people may want an environmentally friendly, DIY option, and others may want to use store-bought chemical cleaners.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

A dirty or mildewed plastic shower curtain or liner does not need to be thrown away. Put it in your washing machine, add two white bath towels and use a gentle setting.

Add half a cup of baking soda to the normal amount of detergent during the washing cycle and half a cup of vinegar during the first rinse cycle. Before the washing machine goes into the spin cycle, take the curtain out.


If you have a lot of mold and mildew on a shower curtain, bleach can help to remove it. Don’t use bleach if your shower curtain is not white or transparent. After you add the baking soda and detergent to your wash, turn the washing machine on. Pour in half a cup of bleach as it starts filling with water.

Always hang a shower curtain back up in the shower after a wash and let it drip-dry on its own.

In Conclusion

Synthetic, water-resistant shower curtains and the liners used with fabric curtains are easy to wash. Simply pop them in your washing machine and follow the steps above to protect them and remove any dirt that has accumulated over time. Washing them at a low temperature on a gentle cycle does the trick and does not cause any damage.

Taking certain precautionary measures, like spraying them with a mix of water and vinegar every day, will keep them clean for longer and you will have to wash them less often. Adding baking powder to your detergent helps to remove any unwanted buildup, and if you add bleach, it can remove even the most stubborn dirt.

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