How to Clean a Shower Curtain and Liner

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Picture this: you come home from a long day, so you run a nice hot shower, step inside, and pull the shower curtain closed behind you. But what are those gray dots on your shower curtain? Mold–yuck! 

Mold and mildew on your shower curtain can spoil a nice shower, and they’re pretty gross. Unfortunately, grime and grunge love your shower curtains as much as you love a hot shower. I covered How to Clean a Plastic Shower Curtain & Mat way back in 2013, so it’s time for an update. 

Today I’ll show you how to clean a shower curtain liner and plastic shower curtain. (Spoiler alert: you can clean them both in the same way!) AND we’ll get our hands dirty removing shower curtain stains. Finally, we’ll go over how to maintain cleanliness in your shower to avoid mold and mildew in the first place. So bacteria beware, we’re coming for you.  

Why is My Shower Curtain So Grungy?

Plastic shower curtains and liners get super dirty over time. How come? First, your shower curtain and liner are frequently in contact with hard water, soap scum, and body oils. For more on eradicating soap scum, check out How to Clean Bathroom Tiles, Soap Scum, and Bathroom Grout

Second, your shower is a warm, damp space. This is bacteria, mold, and mildew’s happy place. The shower should be your happy place, not theirs! So let’s fix that now.

Mold and mildew come in every color of the rainbow, but you’ll typically notice them as little pink, orange, gray, brown, or black dots on your shower curtain. Hopefully, you can avoid mold and mildew with proper shower maintenance. But don’t stress if you have some in your bathroom; it’s easy to clean. 

shower curtain

How to Clean a Shower Curtain and Shower Curtain Liner

Washing shower curtains and liners is a breeze because you can throw them in the washing machine and then go put your feet up. 

All you need is:

  • ¼ cup laundry detergent
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 2 – 3 white or light-colored towels
  • 10 drops tea tree oil (optional)

Take your plastic shower curtain and liner off any plastic hooks. Throw both of them in the washing machine with two to three light-colored towels. The towels help scrub your shower curtain and liner clean, and the light color prevents color bleeding. 

Add your laundry detergent. You want to add enough detergent for the load size, but less is more when it comes to laundry detergent, especially when washing shower curtains and towels. 

Then add one cup of baking soda directly to your washing machine drum. Baking soda adds more abrasion, which equals more scrubbing. Plus, baking soda is a great deodorizer. (Read 10 Ways to Clean Using Baking Soda for more great baking soda hacks.) 

You can add tea tree oil here too because it has great antifungal properties, but if it’s not your thing, skip it. Run the load on a gentle cycle. 

Finally, hang the shower curtain and liner back up in your shower to air dry. Allow them time to dry before anyone hops in the shower, or you’ll start that bacteria, mold, and mildew cycle all over again. 

And NEVER put a plastic shower curtain or liner in the dryer. They will melt! But feel free to throw the towels in the dryer. And for more info on washing towels, read 4 Easy Hacks for Clean, Fresh Bath Towels. 

Melissa is putting a shower curtain into the washing machine

How to Remove Tough Stains from Your Shower Curtain

So you’ve followed the steps above and there’s still gunk on your shower curtains. Time to bring out the big guns. This is effective for stains and yellowing, as well as stubborn mold and mildew. 

Fill your tub with warm water and mix in one cup of oxygen bleach. Soak your liner and/or curtain for 20 to 30 minutes, and then scrub with a sponge or brush. Oxygen bleach is eco-friendly, odorless, and gentler on your skin than regular chlorine bleach, however you’ll want to wear rubber gloves here since you’ll be submerging your hands. 

When your shower curtain and liner are clean, rinse well. Then, hang them back in your shower to dry. Any stains or leftover mold and mildew won’t stand a chance! 

Psst… want to learn more about oxygen bleach? Check out, What is Oxygen Bleach?: Laundry Tips.

How to Keep Your Shower Curtain Clean

Washing your shower curtain isn’t hard, but you don’t want to be doing extra laundry all the time. So let’s talk about how to keep your shower curtain and liner clean so you can do less work.

First, ventilate. You need to let moisture escape when you’re done in the shower. Keep your bathroom fan running for at least 30 minutes after a shower. If you don’t have a bathroom fan, open the bathroom door and window. 

Second, pull your shower curtain closed after a shower. My mom always asked us to close the shower curtain after a shower, and she was right. This allows the curtain and liner to dry and gives mold and mildew less room to grow. Thanks, Mom!

Lastly, keep your shower clean. An easy way to do this is by using a daily shower spray after every shower and bath. This will kill bacteria and prevent soap scum and mildew from building up. Have you given my DIY daily shower cleaner a try?

Melissa in the bathroom holding a spray bottle

How to Clean a Shower Curtain and Liner

A lot of people throw away their shower curtains at the first sign of mold. But you don’t have to! Save yourself some money, and keep your shower curtain out of the landfill for longer with these tips. 

Just remember to wash your curtain and liner between towels, and don’t forget the baking soda. And if you ventilate your bathroom, let your curtain and liner dry between uses, and use a daily shower spray you won’t have to clean or replace them as often.

And since we just freed up some time, read How to Clean A Bathtub and Shower Like a Pro. Now go take a nice long shower, you deserve it!

AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: As an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases on amazon.com.

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Melissa Maker is an entrepreneur, cleaning expert, founder of Toronto’s most popular boutique cleaning service, and star of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube (but she still hates to clean!). Every week, Melissa delivers new videos dishing expert advice on cleaning products, tools, DIY substitutes, and practical, timesaving solutions to everyday problems. Melissa has appeared on the Today Show, and has been featured in InStyle, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.

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