How To Wash Plastic Shower Curtains

It may seem like an easy task, but keeping your shower curtain clean can be a lot harder than you think. How many of us have had to deal with mold and mildew buildup? How about those annoying soap scum stains that are practically impossible to get out without scrubbing for hours on end? You don’t need to worry anymore — our Pros know a thing or two about how to wash a plastic shower curtain. In this post we’ll share some of their shower curtain cleaning hacks so your shower curtain will soon look as good as new!

Types of plastic shower curtain

Not all plastic shower curtains are made the same. Here are the most common types of material you might find:

  • PVCpolyvinyl chloride is a common plastic used in all sorts of materials, and is actually a type of vinyl
  • PEVA / EVA polyethylene vinyl acetate is a chlorine-free vinyl that emits less VOCs and is more eco-friendly than PVC
  • Vinyl — While PVC and PEVA are types of vinyl, they aren’t the only ones. Some liners are made from generic vinyl compounds
  • Nylonnylon is a synthetic fabric made from plastic, and benefits from being waterproof. Many people prefer the look of nylon shower curtains
  • Polyesterpolyester is another plastic-based fabric commonly used for shower curtains. It’s waterproof, but is more prone to mold than vinyl-based curtains
how to wash plastic shower curtains

What is the best way to wash a plastic shower curtain?

Start by locating the maker’s label and looking for information about the material your shower curtain is made from. While most plastic shower curtains have the same tolerance of different cleaning solutions, it’s always best to know what exactly your curtain is made from, and how to clean it most effectively. If you do find cleaning instructions from the manufacturer on the label, always follow them.

If your shower curtain isn’t labeled or specific instructions aren’t available, you can wash your shower curtain in the washing machine using a mild detergent and warm water on a delicate spin cycle. Hang the curtain to dry, either indoors or back over the shower. Ensure the area around the curtain is well ventilated to avoid any mold or mildew.

Pro Tip: Avoid using any harsh cleaning chemicals on your shower curtain to prevent damaging the plastic

SHOWER CURTAIN MATERIAL
WASHING MACHINE
HAND WASHING
BLEACH
AMMONIA
VINEGAR & BAKING SODA
PVC
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PEVA / EVA
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Vinyl
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Nylon
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Polyester
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Is it ok to put a plastic shower curtain in the washing machine?

Although surprising to some people, you can wash your plastic shower curtain in the washing machine. These curtains are made to be tough and designed to get wet, so there’s not much in a washing machine that can harm them. To extend the life of your plastic shower curtain, always use a warm water cycle if you put it in the washing machine. Cold water can make the plastic brittle. Just don’t use a setting any hotter than your regular shower water either.

Pro Tip: How clean is your washing machine? Get it sparkling with these tips!

How to wash a plastic shower curtain in a front loader

Plastic shower curtains will wash just as well in a front loader as a top loading washing machine. Some people think they can’t go in front loaders because those machines use less water, but that won’t harm your shower curtain. In fact, front loaders are gentler on the material than top loaders, so they’re less likely to damage the curtains. You can wash your shower curtains, and even wash plastic shower curtain liners in a front loader.

How can you put a plastic shower curtain in the dryer?

Don’t put your plastic shower curtain in the dryer.  Dryers are too harsh for most plastics, and could cause the curtain to melt. This leads to damage to both your shower curtain and your dryer. Instead, hang your plastic shower curtain to dry. Ideally hang it outside on warm, sunny days, or indoors in an area that’s well ventilated. Ensuring your shower curtain dries quickly and thoroughly prevents damp and mold from taking hold.

Pro Tip: Got a different kind of shower curtain? Find out how to clean all kinds of shower curtains now!

plastic shower curtain washing

How to clean a shower curtain without taking it down

If you want to clean your shower curtain without taking it down, use a damp cloth to wipe the curtain down. You can also spray it with a neutral cleaner like mild dish soap, rinse it off with water and let it hang to dry.

Pro Tip: Don’t use ammonia-based cleaners (such as Windex) on vinyl shower curtains

Another great way to clean your shower curtain without taking it down is to use vinegar. First, rinse off the entire curtain with water and then spray it with a mixture of two cups of water and one cup of vinegar. Next, rub the soiled areas with a sponge or cloth that’s dampened with the mixture. Let it dry in the sun, or inside in place — just make sure there’s plenty of ventilation!

How to a clean plastic shower curtain with bleach

If your shower curtain is particularly discolored, has stubborn stains, or you want to treat it to remove or prevent mold, you can use bleach to get the job done. The only exception is for polyester shower curtains, as bleach is not recommended for use on this material.

There are several methods you can use to clean a plastic shower curtain with bleach:

  • Spot-treat stubborn stains with bleach and leave for 10 minutes before washing as normal
  • Add 1/4 cup of bleach to your washing machine drum with the shower curtain
  • Fill your bathtub with warm water, add 1 cup of bleach, and soak your shower curtain for 20-30 minutes

Pro Tip: Use color-safe bleach for dark or patterned shower curtains to prevent damage to the finish

washing vinyl shower curtain

Can you wash a shower curtain with magnets?

Some shower curtains and curtain liners have magnets sewn into the hem.  These magnets keep the curtain in place so it can’t slip up and down. If you want to wash your shower curtains with these magnets, make sure they’re well secured before placing them into a washing machine or any water source.

If you’re concerned about your washing machine having magnets clanking around inside, you can always hand wash your shower curtain instead. However unless otherwise stated on the label, plastic shower curtains with magnets are safe to machine wash.

Pro Tip: Here are our choices of the top organic and natural house cleaning products

How to clean shower curtain mold

In order to help remove mold from a plastic shower curtain, you will need to mix water and vinegar in the same proportions as our previous recipe. Spray this mixture onto the curtain and then rub with a sponge or cloth and let dry.

You can give the cleaning power of vinegar an extra boost by combining it with baking soda. The chemical reaction between the two ingredients creates a powerful dirt-busting solution. Make a loose paste of baking soda and just enough water to bring it to the right consistency. Then spread the paste across the shower curtain. Next, apply a white vinegar solution using a spray bottle.

Pro Tip: Make sure your shower curtain hangs inside the shower or bath when you wash it with vinegar and baking soda, to make cleanup easier.

If the mold on your plastic shower curtain is very stubborn, it might be best to use a different cleaning method. Make a solution of two parts hydrogen peroxide and one part water and apply to the shower curtain using a spray bottle. Let it sit for about 20 minutes before cleaning with a cloth or sponge.

cleaning plastic shower curtain

How often should you wash a shower curtain?

The best way to clean your shower curtain is to choose a method that suits your needs and lifestyle. How often you need to clean it will depend on the material, frequency of use, the number of people who use it, and how well you take care of it. In a typical household you should clean your shower curtain at least once a month. 

Giving it a spray down with a quick cleaning solution like vinegar as part of a weekly cleaning routine can help extend the life of your curtain, and the time required between thorough cleanings.

In conclusion

Most plastic curtains can safely be washed in your machine on a delicate cycle, or hand cleaned with a wide range of cleaning solutions. Washing your shower curtain regularly will keep your bathroom looking cleaner, and avoid the growth of mold and mildew. Keeping a plastic shower curtain or liner clean is easy when you’ve got cleaning Pros in your corner!

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