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How to Clean a Shower Curtain

woman standing infront of a shower curtain
Written By
Parachute Team
Photographs By
JESSICA SCHRAMM FOR PARACHUTE
@parachutehome
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Keeping your bathroom clean is an important part of maintaining a healthy and hygienic home. While many people have a regular cleaning schedule for linens like towels and bathmats, shower curtains are a little trickier.

Because they’re regularly exposed to hot water, humid air, a range of bath products and dirt, it’s a good idea to periodically clean your shower curtain and liner. By maintaining a regular cleaning schedule for these vital accessories, you can cut down on accumulations of soap scum, lime scale, mold and mildew.

Remember that even if a shower curtain or liner looks clean, common allergens like mold and mildew are likely present. Correctly cleaning your shower curtain helps ensure a safe bathroom environment for your whole family.

If you’re not sure how to wash a shower curtain, fret not. We’ll cover all of the most important steps so you can keep your bathroom looking and smelling fresh.

How to Clean a Shower Curtain (Fabric Model)

Most shower curtains are safe to wash in your washing machine, so keeping your bathroom cleaner is as easy as running a load of laundry.

1. Gather Your Cleaning Supplies

Start by gathering all the supplies to wash your fabric shower curtain. You’ll only need three things:

  • Gentle laundry detergent

  • White vinegar

  • Washing machine

2. Choose the Right Washing Machine Settings for Fabric

Unless your curtain’s manufacturer lists specific washing instructions, it’s best to wash a dirty shower curtain with warm water on a gentle setting. If your washing machine lets you set the load size, set it to the largest option so the basin will fill with plenty of water for soaking and agitating.

3. Load and Wash Your Fabric Curtain

If possible, fill the basin with water before you add your shower curtain to it. Remove your shower curtain from the shower curtain rings and toss it in the washing machine with a small amount of detergent and a cup of white vinegar. 

What about mold or mildew? The vinegar will help you here. You can use less detergent than you normally would for a small load of laundry because the vinegar will do most of the work.

4. Dry Your Fabric Shower Curtain

Once the washing machine cycle ends, just rehang your shower curtain on the curtain rod to air dry. Make sure it’s spread out for faster, more even drying.

How to Wash a Shower Curtain (Plastic Model)

Many people think that spraying a plastic curtain with tile cleaner or vinegar is the only way to clean it. But you can actually clean a plastic shower curtain using most of the same techniques for washing a fabric shower curtain. However, there are a few key differences, so follow the steps for washing a plastic shower curtain below.

1. Gather Cleaning Supplies

Start with the following supplies to wash your plastic shower curtain:

  • Gentle laundry detergent

  • White vinegar

  • Washing machine

2. Choose the Right Washing Machine Settings for Plastic

Even though plastic curtains are machine washable, you’ll need to be a little more careful about selecting the right settings. 

Always set your washing machine to the largest load setting so the curtain has plenty of room to move around and agitate. You can also add a towel or two with the curtain to help things move freely and to create a little scrubbing action. 

Set your machine to a cool or cold water setting to avoid melting, misshaping or weakening the plastic.

Finally, it’s a good idea to choose a gentle setting to avoid damaging your plastic curtain. Don’t worry about choosing a fast spin speed. Since plastic can’t absorb water, it’ll be easy for your machine to shed the water from it.

3. Load and Wash Your Plastic Curtain

Let the basin fill with water first, then add a small amount of detergent and a cup of vinegar. Next, remove your shower curtain from the rings and put it in the basin. If you have a top-load washer, try to drape the curtain around the central spindle to keep it from bunching or balling up during the wash cycle.

4. Dry Your Plastic Shower Curtain

After the spin cycle finishes, just hang your plastic shower curtain up on the curtain bar and let it air dry. Make sure there aren’t any folds or bunches in the shower curtain. If there are, water can become trapped and restart mildew growth.

How to Wash a Shower Liner

Many curtain liners — especially those made of thin plastic — are intended to be disposable. For a more eco-friendly solution, you can wash your shower liner as well.

Washing a shower curtain liner is just as simple as washing the curtain itself. If you’re not sure about the best way to clean shower liners, just follow the directions above for how to wash a shower curtain, for your liner’s specific material.

You can wash fabric shower curtain liners in the same way as fabric shower curtains. In fact, you can toss them both into the same load to save time and water. If you want to wash a fabric curtain with a plastic liner, wash them both on a cold water setting for best results.

How to Clean Shower Curtain Rings and Hooks

While you’re going through the effort of cleaning your curtain and liner, it’s a good idea to clean your curtain hooks as well. Just take them off the bar and soak them in your bathroom sink with hot water and a cup of white vinegar.

When you’re ready to rehang your curtains, drain the water. Then rinse your curtain rings under warm water, making sure to rub off any remaining soap scum.

How Often Should You Wash Your Shower Curtain and Liner?

How often to wash shower curtains and liners depends on how much they’re used. 

The primary bathroom in your home likely gets a lot of use, resulting in moldy shower curtains and soap scum, so you’ll need to wash your curtain there more frequently. Guest baths that are only used a few times per year can go longer between curtain cleanings.

In most cases, it’s smart to wash curtains and liners at least every three months or as needed if you notice scum buildup or a mildewy shower curtain. If your curtain liners start to get too gross to clean or they rip and tear, you can replace them inexpensively or invest in a fabric liner for a longer life.

Between washings, make sure to spread shower curtains out so they dry completely. You can also wipe plastic curtains and liners down with a mild vinegar solution every couple of weeks to maintain cleanliness.

FAQ for How to Wash a Shower Curtain

For quick reference, here’s a summary with a few of the most commonly asked questions about how to clean a shower curtain.

Are shower curtains machine washable?

Yes. You can wash any shower curtain — fabric or plastic — in the washing machine, using a gentle cycle, laundry detergent, and white vinegar. Use a high-spin-setting for fabric curtains, since they’ll absorb more water during washing.

Will vinegar remove mold from shower curtains?

Yes, vinegar will kill and remove mold from your shower curtain. You can spray it on and wipe the mold away, or wash your shower curtain with a little vinegar in your washing machine. Add a towel or two to the machine’s laundry drum to add a touch of scrubbing action.

Can you wash a shower curtain made of plastic in the washing machine?

You can wash plastic shower curtains and/or plastic shower curtain liners in the washing machine. Use the gentle cycle and the slow spin setting, since plastic curtains don’t absorb water.

Complete Your Perfect Bathroom with the Right Shower Curtain

Elevate your bathroom’s style with an attractive, well-made shower curtain and liner. By choosing high-quality curtain and liner materials, your bathroom will stay fresher between cleanings and look as inviting as the rest of your home.

With luxurious shower curtains made of organic cloud cotton, waffle cotton, linen and checkered gauze, Parachute makes it easy to design your dream bathroom. Our eco-friendly fabrics are easy to care for and long-lasting while providing you peace of mind that you’re choosing materials that don’t harm the earth.

Consider adding durable, strong and smooth sliding metal shower curtain hooks so you can more easily remove your shower curtain for periodic cleanings while enjoying a sleek decorative look.

With bath linens and accessories by Parachute, you’ll find yourself looking forward to every shower or bath!