The Easiest Way to Clean a Plastic Shower Curtain or Liner

shower curtain

Desiree Burns Interiors

Nothing ruins a nice, relaxing shower like a dingy curtain or liner. When you’re trying to get clean, the last thing you want to look at is something dirty. But it’s normal for plastic shower curtains and liners to accumulate soap and hard water buildup over time. Many of them may also produce mildew due to their consistent contact with moisture.

And while you could buy a new one, it’s also super easy to clean the one you have at home. With a little bit of effort, you can save money and revive your existing liner. To learn more about how to get your plastic curtain back to looking out-of-the-box new, we tapped a few experts. Here’s how to clean your plastic shower curtain in a few easy steps. 

How Often Should You Clean Your Plastic Shower Curtain?

"Even though you might keep your bathroom shower curtains clean with your routine cleaning, you still need to give your shower a deep clean regularly," says Ana Andres, co-founder of London-based house cleaning service TidyChoice. To keep your plastic curtain looking good as new, it's a good idea to give it a good washing once a month. Due to its direct contact with moisture every time you shower, this will help keep mold and mildew at bay. Plus, monthly cleaning will reduce the amount of hard water buildup and soap scum that can make it tougher to clean over time.

Things You'll Need

  • Washing machine or large container
  • Mild laundry detergent
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Baking soda

How to Clean a Plastic Shower Curtain or Liner

shower curtain

Katie Martinez Design

Step 1: Remove the Curtain

Start by removing the curtain or liner from the shower rod. This takes some patience and effort, especially if you have a cloth curtain and a liner on the same rod. Save yourself a headache by starting from one end and working your way to the other to prevent the whole thing from falling. Don't forget to remove any rings or hooks used to attach the curtain to the rod, too.

Step 2: Place It in the Washing Machine

"One of the best ways to clean your shower liner is to put it in the washing machine in the large load setting," Derek Chiu and Leslie Tam, co-Founders of UrbanMop, tell MyDomaine. Just make sure to read the label—most plastic liners and curtains are washing machine safe, but ones with a cloth outer layer or with special detail, may not be. If you choose to wash your curtain by hand instead of putting it in the washing machine, make sure to have a container large enough to fit it, then follow the same steps below.

Throw a towel or two in the washing machine with the liner to help scrub the curtain and prevent it from sticking to the sides of the machine.

Step 3: Add Detergent, Vinegar, and Baking Soda

Along with a few drops of mild detergent, our experts recommend adding half a cup of white vinegar and half a cup of baking soda to the load. The acidity of the white vinegar will help eat away any hard water or soap scum stains, while the baking soda acts as a deodorizer. Together, the two ingredients fizz together to create a powerful cleaning combo that's still gentle enough to keep your liner intact.

Step 4: Run on the Gentle Cycle

Next, using cool or lukewarm (never hot) water, run the machine on a gentle cycle. You don't want to agitate the load too much or the liner can rip, so make sure the washer is on the highest water setting (largest load) and the most docile bin speed.

Step 5: Remove the Curtain and Hang to Dry

Keep an eye on the load throughout the wash cycle. Then, remove the curtain just before it is complete, as this can help cut down on wrinkles formed from the final spin and draining process. Hang up the curtain in a well-ventilated space (like a room with open windows or outside) to allow it to dry thoroughly.

Make sure to fully close your shower curtain and leave the bathroom door open after each use to help it air out, dry faster, and cut down on potential bacterial, mold, or mildew buildup.

shower curtain

Ashley Montgomery Design

How to Prevent Mold on a Plastic Shower Liner

If you want to cut down on the frequency of a full shower liner wash, keep a spray bottle filled with one part vinegar and four parts water under your bathroom sink. Once a week, spray the liner—specifically the area that hangs into the shower and gets the wettest—so that it is saturated with the solution. Then, give it a thorough rinse with hot water. This will help break down any mold and mildew—and prevent it from coming back or getting worse.