How To Easily Clean Fabric, Plastic And Vinyl Shower Curtains (And Liners)

That chore you’ve probably been putting off all year.

Cleaning the shower is one thing, but cleaning the shower curtain? Like, do you even need to do that? How dirty could it possibly be getting? Then ask yourself this: why do you get so grossed out when it touches you? There is something inherently awful about the wet shower curtain brushing up against you as you're lathering up your hair or shaving your armpits. Why is that? Because you have probably never ever cleaned it.

Great news: Cleaning your shower curtain is probably easier than you think. And you should do it sometimes. We insist. And you’ve got several options for how to clean your shower curtain, depending on its material and what sort of cleaning agents you’ve got on hand.

How to clean a shower curtain and liner

Pretreat your shower curtains

Did you know that you can pretreat your shower curtains to actually prevent future soap scum buildup? If you’re the type of person who pretreats your leather shoes, you’re going to love this.

Take your new plastic shower curtain (this only works when it’s new—if you’ve already used the shower curtain, you’re out of luck), and run it through the washing machine on the rinse cycle with ¼ cup of white vinegar. Be sure you’re running the cycle on warm (not hot!) so you don’t melt the plastic shower curtain. Once the rinse cycle is done, hang the shower curtain and/or liner up on the curtain rod to let it air dry.

How to clean a plastic shower curtain and liner

Wipe down with ready-to-use cleaner

We recommend using Mr. Clean Clean Freak Mist, which is a super versatile and easy-to-use multipurpose cleaner. You just spray it directly onto the shower curtain, then wipe it off with a damp rag. Easy peasy.

Washing machine (+ vinegar or baking soda)

You can simply toss your plastic shower curtain and liner into the washing machine on a quick wash or rinse mode. And always use a warm or gentle cycle, since hot water could melt the shower curtain or liner. You can wash the shower curtain or liner with either laundry detergent or substitute the detergent with ¼ cup of white vinegar, same as you’d use to pretreat the shower curtain. Vinegar will cut the soap scum buildup, oils and mildew. Alternatively, you can add a couple teaspoons of baking soda in lieu of detergent or vinegar. (Note: Don’t mix all three of those ingredients together unless you want to potentially make a really big mess of your washing machine, just choose one cleaning agent!) Then simply hang your plastic shower curtain and liner back up on the curtain rod to air dry.

Hand wash with baking soda

If you’re feeling extra analog (or if using a washing machine means having to visit a laundromat), you can hand wash your plastic shower curtain and liner. Bust out your faithful microfiber rag and a bit of baking soda. Wet the rag, and sprinkle baking soda onto it so it makes a gentle cleaning paste. Scrub the shower curtain all over, then rinse it clean with warm water. You can also spot treat the shower curtain with more baking soda paste, letting it sit for a few minutes on hard water spots or soap scum stains to work its magic, then rinse clean. It’s probably easier to take the shower curtain down to hand wash it, but leaving it hanging on the rod is also acceptable. Just let it air dry on the curtain rod once you’re done.

How to clean a vinyl shower curtain and liner

Wipe down with ready-made cleaner

We love Mr. Clean Clean Freak Mist because it’s a super versatile and easy-to-use multipurpose cleaner. Simply spray it directly onto the shower curtain, then wipe it off with a damp rag. Easy peasy.

Washing machine (+ vinegar or baking soda)

Just toss your vinyl shower curtain and liner straight into the washing machine on a quick wash or rinse mode. Always use a warm or gentle cycle, since hot water could melt the shower curtain or liner. You can wash the shower curtain or liner with either laundry detergent or substitute the detergent with ¼ cup of white vinegar, same as you’d use to pretreat the shower curtain. Vinegar will cut the soap scum buildup, oils and mildew. Alternatively, you can add a couple teaspoons of baking soda in lieu of detergent or vinegar. (Note: Don’t mix all three of those ingredients together unless you want to potentially make a really big mess of your washing machine, just choose one cleaning agent!) Hang up the vinyl shower curtain and liner back on the curtain rod to air dry.

Hand wash with baking soda

Hand washing your vinyl shower curtain and liner is also very easy. Bust out your faithful microfiber rag and a bit of baking soda. Wet the rag, and sprinkle baking soda onto it so it makes a gentle cleaning paste. Scrub the shower curtain all over, then rinse it clean with warm water. You can further spot treat the shower curtain with more baking soda paste, letting it sit for a few minutes on hard water spots or soap scum stains to work its magic, then rinse clean. It’s probably easier to take the shower curtain down to hand wash it, but leaving it hanging on the rod is also acceptable. Just let it air dry on the curtain rod once you’re done.

How to clean a fabric shower curtain and liner

Washing machine (+ vinegar or baking soda)

Toss your fabric shower curtain and liner into the washing machine on a quick wash or rinse mode. You can wash the shower curtain or liner with either laundry detergent or substitute the detergent with ¼ cup of white vinegar, same as you’d use to pretreat the shower curtain. Vinegar will cut the soap scum buildup, oils and mildew. Alternatively, you can add a couple teaspoons of baking soda in lieu of detergent or vinegar. Then simply hang your fabric shower curtain and liner back up on the curtain rod to air dry. You could also toss it into the dryer on a low or cool setting.

How to clean a moldy shower curtain and liner

Ready-made cleaner

Mr. Clean Clean Freak Mist can help with mold. Just spray it directly onto the shower curtain, then wipe it off with a damp rag. Unlike lots of mold and mildew cleaners, Mr. Clean Clean Freak Mist doesn’t produce harsh odors, and it meets the United States EPA Safer Choice Standard.

Hydrogen peroxide + baking soda

These natural and effective mold removers can banish mold from most surfaces, especially your shower curtain and liner. There are a few different techniques you can implement when using these products.

Take the shower curtain outside

  • Take the shower curtain and liner down from the rod.
  • Fold the moldy areas inward so you don’t spread any mold spores.
  • Lay the shower curtain down on a flat surface.

Step 1

  • Mix a solution of 2 parts hydrogen peroxide and 1 part water.
  • Apply the solution with a spray bottle, or soak a clean rag with it and wipe it onto the shower curtain.
  • Allow the solution to sit on the shower curtain for about 10 minutes.
  • Rinse off the solution with warm water.

Step 2

  • Make a paste of equal parts baking soda and water.
  • Scrub the paste onto the offending moldy areas of the shower curtain with a soft bristle scrub brush.
  • Rinse and repeat if necessary.

Step 3

  • Repeat all steps on the opposite side of the shower curtain.
  • Hang the shower curtain back on the curtain rod to air dry (or let it dry in the sun, weather permitting).

Give the shower curtain a bath

  • Remove the shower curtain from the rod.
  • Lay the shower curtain down in the bathtub.
  • Mix a solution of 2 parts hydrogen peroxide and 1 part water.
  • Apply the solution with a spray bottle, or soak a clean rag with it and wipe it onto the shower curtain.
  • Allow the solution to sit on the shower curtain for about 10 minutes.
  • Rinse off the solution with warm water.
  • Make a paste of equal parts baking soda and water.
  • Scrub the paste onto the offending moldy areas of the shower curtain with a soft bristle scrub brush.
  • Rinse and repeat if necessary.
  • Repeat all steps on the opposite side of the shower curtain.
  • Hang the shower curtain back on the curtain rod to air dry.

Washing machine

  • Take the shower curtain and liner down from the rod.
  • Fold the moldy areas inward so you don’t spread any mold spores.
  • Toss the shower curtain and liner into the washing machine with a couple towels.
  • Add ½ cup of baking soda into the machine with a normal amount of laundry detergent.
  • Run the washing machine on a warm, gentle cycle. The rinse only cycle ought to work just fine, as to avoid potentially damaging the shower curtain during the spin cycle portion.
  • Remove shower curtain from the washing machine, and replace it onto the curtain rod, allowing it to drip/air dry.
  • If there are still moldy areas after washing in the machine, spot treat with the previously mentioned baking soda paste solution, and then rinse clean.

How to prevent mold on your shower curtain

It’s not a secret that mold and mildew thrive in moist areas. Showers are gonna be moist, there’s no battling that. But if you do your part to remove moisture from the air whenever possible (aka run the fans and crack the windows in your bathroom), you can drastically reduce mold’s capacity to grow and flourish. If you regularly clean your shower curtains, make sure you don’t have leaky faucets or showerheads and avoid standing water, the mold should stay at bay.

  • The easiest way to prevent mold and mildew is to be sure to always run your bathroom’s exhaust fan during your shower—and then also leave it on for about 30 minutes afterward to really get the moisture out of the air.
  • Squeegee your shower walls after each use.
  • Hear a persistent drip? Fix it ASAP! Mold and mildew just love leaking and pooling water.
  • Wash your bath mats and towels regularly. And be sure you’re hanging them up in a way that allows them to dry completely. Damp fabrics create ideal conditions for mold growth (plus, they get smelly!).
  • When you’re not using them, store your washcloths or loofahs someplace dry (aka not in the shower).

How to clean shower curtain rings

  • Take the rings down from the shower curtain rod.
  • Fill the bathroom sink or a small bucket with warm water combined with a cup of distilled white vinegar.
  • Soak the rings while you wash the shower curtain.
  • Drain the sink or bucket.
  • Rinse the rings clean with warm water.
  • You can spot treat hard water stains or soap scum on your shower curtain rings with a soft bristle scrub brush.

How often should you wash your shower curtain

Here’s the thing: Your shower curtain gets a lot of use. Presumably daily use. Therefore, don’t overlook it when you’re working through your bathroom cleaning checklist.

If your bathroom is emanating a mysterious, funky stench, wash your shower curtain (among other things). If the shower curtain is visibly dirty or you can detect mold or mildew, give ‘er a scrub. If you’ve got poor air circulation in your bathroom, consider washing the shower curtain more often.

Otherwise, you can stick to washing your shower curtain and liner seasonally, or 4–5 times each year.

To prevent mold growth, you can regularly spritz down your shower curtain with a solution of half water and half vinegar. By regularly, we mean weekly. You can even do this daily if you live in a particularly humid climate.

Boom! How fresh does your shower feel now? Great job getting that chore out of the way. Now you can move on to the fun ones, like cleaning your showerhead or scrubbing those grout lines. (Just kidding.)

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