Cleaning Shower Curtains

I have seen many a good shower curtain in the trash because it's owner did not know how to go about cleaning shower curtains. Fortunately, all you need is a washing machine.

A shower curtain is the single most common barrier between your morning shower and a pool on the bathroom floor. It is a wonderful device - totally practical and it can also contribute to the decor and mood of the room. However, it can also be an unsightly mess and/or a health hazard.

Shower curtains are generally made with two different properties - waterproof and not waterproof - so we use them a few different ways:

  1. A waterproof curtain alone
  2. A non-waterproof curtain alone
  3. A plain waterproof liner with a decorative fabric outer

Whichever way you use - they have to be kept clean. Cleaning shower curtains once a quarter (every three months) is probably a good frequency.

Cleaning the Non-Waterproof Shower Curtain

Whether you hang it by itself or not, the non-waterproof curtain is easily cleaned in the wash machine. However, if you let it get too dirty or to much build-up, you may be disappointed with the results. In addition - any hard water build-up will damage the fabric. Here's what will help keep it clean:

  1. Remove the fabric curtain from the shower/tub
  2. Treat all stains - look for greasy hand marks on the top left, and dirt along the bottom.
  3. Add 1/2 cup of baking soda to the wash water to help remove any hard water build up.
  4. Add 1/2 sup of white vinegar to the fabric softener dispenser
  5. Use your regular laundry detergent
  6. Most can be successfully re-hung while still damp

This should get you the best possible results.

Waterproof Shower Curtains

There are generally two types of waterproof shower curtains - PVC and non PVC. The PVC ones are the ones that smell like 'new car' when you open the package and for some time afterwards. That smell, which men tend to love, is the smell of toxic chemicals 'off-gasing' into your home. The more we learn about these products, the more we discover how toxic they are. if you can possible afford the $15 to buy a non-PVC curtain go and do it - it is an investment in your long-term health, and the health of your family.

The other thing to avoid is an antibacterial shower curtain. These are normally impregnated with a form of Triclosan (most often under the trade name Microban, but there are others). Triclosan is a highly toxic chemical that has been recently banned in Canada.

Cleaning Waterproof Shower Curtains

Just like their non-waterproof cousins, waterproof shower curtains benefit from regular cleaning. They will last longer and look better if they are cleaned before the start to discolor from the soap scum and hard water build-up.

  1. If you have a slimey build-up on the curtain, start cleaning shower curtains before removing them from the rod. While still hanging, wipe it down with either a microfiber cloth or spray with a bathroom cleaner. ( a safe one please!) Do not use bleach - it is toxic AND it will damage the curtain.
  2. Throw the curtain in your wash machine with one or two light-colored towels. I usually use two - it seems to work better.
  3. Add 1/2 cup baking soda to the wash cycle and 1/2 cup white vinegar to the fabric softener dispenser in addition to your regular detergent
  4. Wash on the regular cycle - using a warm wash, and a warm or cold rinse.
  5. Remove when done and re-hand immediately. If there are any 'spots' that didn't fully clean - they should be easily wiped clean at this point.

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