How to Clean a Shower Curtain

Evelyn Long

Apr 15, 2022


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Nothing ruins a relaxing shower like a dirty shower curtain. We’ve all been there. After a long workday, you look forward to having five minutes to yourself so that you can feel refreshed again. Yet, the feeling of hot water on your back is no longer sensational once you notice the presence of soap scum build-up and orange mildew.

Bacteria love to lurk in showers, and it can be unsightly. In a study by Safe Home, shower curtains can harbor 60 times more bacteria than toilet seats. While replacing an old shower curtain might be the easiest solution, the costs can add up quicker than you think. 

Cleaning a shower curtain may take extra work, but it can be a fast and easy task. Plus, your effort will be well worth it in the long run. Here’s how to clean a shower curtain.

Can You Wash Shower Curtains in the Washing Machine?

The short answer — yes! Most plastic and cloth shower curtains get a deep clean by placing them in your washing machine. This method is the preferred option since cleaning by hand requires more effort.

How to Clean a Cloth Shower Curtain

Use these steps to ensure you get a good clean.

  1. Remove the shower curtain from the rings and place it in the washing machine.
  1. Add a slight amount of laundry detergent and a cup of white vinegar.
  1. Fill your washing machine with warm water and a large load setting.
  1. Use the delicate cycle to avoid damage.
  1. After the cycle is complete, hang your shower curtain back up and let it air dry.

How to Clean a Plastic Shower Curtain

When you place your plastic shower curtain in the washer, ensure you:

  • Wash in a warm setting.
  • Add a couple of bath towels to help with the scrubbing and prevent wrinkles.
  • Avoid using the dryer — always air dry it.

Placing your shower liner in the washing machine helps remove mold and mildew, which builds over time when exposed to warm temperatures and moisture. So, instead of throwing out your shower curtain, you can extend the life of your old one and save on the costs of a new liner.

How Often to Clean Your Shower Curtain

Your shower curtain will need a deep clean regularly. To keep it looking new, it’s always a good idea to put it in the washing machine each month to prevent mold and mildew. In addition, you reduce soap scum and hard water build-up, which is more difficult to clean over time.

Giving your shower curtain a deep clean each month is great. However, you can cut down the frequency of a full liner wash by spraying it down once a week. 

How to Clean a Shower Curtain by Hand

Weekly cleaning will do, and the best part is you won’t have to remove the curtain from its rings. This method is also best if you need to get rid of mold and soap scum — or if you can’t place it in the washing machine. 

Before you run to the store to buy a cleaner, you can easily make your own cleaning solution — which is just as effective. Plus, it’ll help you save money. So, you’ll need to grab an empty spray bottle and mix equal parts vinegar and water. Then, you can start cleaning your shower curtain.

  1. Stretch out your shower curtain across the rod.
  1. Spray your vinegar solution generously until it’s saturated.
  1. Let the cleaning agent sit for a few minutes so it has time to kill the bacteria.
  1. Rinse the shower curtain under warm water.
  1. Let the curtain hang dry.

How to Deep Clean a Shower Curtain by Hand

If you want to give your shower curtain a deep clean and have to do it by hand, here’s how.

  1. Remove the shower curtain from the rings.
  1. Fill your tub with warm water.
  1. Sprinkle ¼ cup of baking and a small amount of laundry detergent.
  1. Mix up the water and cleaning solution until it’s sudsy.
  1. Put the curtain in the tub and scrub until all stains are gone.
  1. Drain the dirty water and rinse the curtain off with warm water.
  1. Hang the curtain back on the rod and let it air dry.

How to Clean the Shower Curtain Rings

You won’t want to forget about the curtain rings while cleaning your shower curtain. The rings are exposed to soap scum and dust, building up over time. However, this part is simple and should take you no longer than 5-10 minutes.

The best method is to fill your bathroom sink with hot water and a cup of vinegar. Let the rings soak for at least five minutes to break up the soap scum. Then, you can remove the remaining by scraping it with a cloth — and that’s it!

For residue that’s hard to remove, like limescale, use an all-purpose cleaner and scrub them down. Then, you can rinse the rings off with hot water and dry them with a clean cloth.

Final Tips for Cleaning a Shower Curtain

1. Use Vinegar to Tackle Mildew

Mold and mildew grow fairly quickly, which can expand on surfaces like your shower curtain. To keep the growth of harmful bacteria away, you can use vinegar as the solution. As mentioned previously, you can fill half water and half vinegar in a bottle and spray the shower curtain before scrubbing with a sponge or soft brush.

However, sometimes you can have a build-up before you even take notice. So, if the build-up is severe, use the shower to rinse away the solution. After cleaning it, you can give the shower curtain a spray down after each use. Then, you can let the water rinse off the mix the next time you shower.

2. Use a Squeegee to Prevent Hard Water Build-up

If you have a plastic shower liner, water streaks can become visible before the mold appears. To prevent this from happening, keep a squeegee in your shower. You’ll remember to wipe down the shower curtain after each use. 

The squeegee is wonderful for this method because it efficiently removes extra moisture, reducing the chance for mildew and water streaks.

3. Apply a Water-Repellent Coating

Moisture that remains on the shower curtain for extended periods is often the primary reason for mildew, mold and grime build-up. After you give your shower curtain a deep clean, spray the shower curtain with a water repellent. You can be sure to keep the moisture at bay every few months. Once you step into the shower, the water will roll off the shower curtain after each use.

4. Dry the Shower Faster Using the Bathroom Fan

After you shower, you should get the bathroom dry as quickly as possible. This method will keep the moisture from remaining, preventing bacteria and mold growth over time.

To ensure you dry the shower quickly, you should use the bathroom fan while showering. Then, let the airflow through by leaving the door open, so the curtain dries more quickly. If you have windows in the bathroom, you can also let the steam from the shower flow outside, so the moisture doesn’t stick to the shower curtain.

Maintain a Clean Shower Curtain

Cleaning a shower curtain may require some extra effort. But with a little elbow grease, you extend the life of your liner more efficiently. So, whether you use the washing machine or clean it by hand, regularly do this. Maintaining cleanliness will bring about pleasure but is also for your overall well-being.

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