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How to Clean a Shower Curtain and Shower Curtain Liner (Because, Ew)

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how to clean a shower curtain and liner
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You’re generally a clean person. Still, the edges of your shower curtain and shower curtain liner are going to get moldy, mildewy and disgusting from time to time. You could just toss those suckers out. Or you can save a few bucks (and spare a landfill) by learning how to properly clean them yourself. Here’s everything you need to know about how to wash a shower curtain and a yucky liner, too.

Why Is It Important to Wash Shower Curtains?

If, like us, you’ve occasionally neglected your shower curtain to the point that it’s so scuzzy you shudder at the thought of brushing up against it, you probably already know the answer to this question. However, in case you need further convincing, here’s what the experts at the American Cleaning Institute (ACI) have to say: “Shower curtains stay damp after each shower and this can be the perfect environment for mold and mildew to grow…and without periodic washing, that mold and mildew can make you sick or cause an allergic reaction.” 

How Often Should You Wash Shower Curtains?

So how often do you have to tend to that functional item in your bathroom that you’d rather not be bothered with? The ACI tells us it depends on how often you use your shower (see: Ashton Kutcher bathing debate), but that shower curtains should typically be washed once a month. It’s also worth noting that the cleaning pros say you might be able to stretch this a little if you spritz the curtain after every shower with a cleaning product designed to help it stay fresh between washes. (Psst: There are a number of store-bought sprays that will do the job, but you can also use a homemade solution of one part distilled white vinegar to four parts water.)

How to Wash a Shower Curtain by Hand

What you need:

• Baking soda or all-purpose cleaner
• Microfiber cloth

Step 1: Leave the curtain on the rod and sprinkle some water on it.
Step 2: Dampen your microfiber cloth.
Step 3: Pour baking soda or spray your all-purpose cleaner on the cloth and scrub the shower curtain.
Step 4: Rinse with warm water. Repeat as needed for any stubborn stains.
Step 5: Let air dry.

How to Wash a Shower Curtain in the Washing Machine 

For the multi-taskers out there, who want clean while also getting other things done, you can simply pop the curtain in the washing machine and go about your day. Just make sure the care instructions say it’s machine washable.

What you need:

• Gentle laundry detergent
• Baking soda
• Two white towels

Step 1: Before you put your curtain in the washing machine, make sure you’ve detached all shower curtain rings.
Step 2: Place two white towels in the machine. This will help scrub your curtains and also keep them from wrinkling.
Step 3: Add half a cup of baking soda to your regular amount of laundry detergent.
Step 4: Machine wash on the warm cycle.
Step 5: Skip the spin cycle and allow your curtain to air dry.

How to Clean a Shower Curtain Liner by Hand

You can’t give your shower curtain a good scrub without showing your shower curtain liner the same TLC. Especially since soap scum tends to cling on for dear life.

What you need:

• All-purpose cleaner
• Sponge or Magic Eraser
• Gloves

Step 1: No need to take the liner off the shower rod. Grab an all-purpose cleaner and spray your liner.
Step 2: Dampen your sponge or Magic Eraser.
Step 3: Scrub, scrub, scrub. Be sure to peel apart the icky sections that have folded back on themselves and get in there, too. (Pro tip: wear gloves.)

How to Clean a Shower Curtain Liner with a Washing Machine

What you need:

• Gentle detergent
• White vinegar

For front loader: If your front-loading washing machine has a drum without a center agitator, dump your liner in there with some regular detergent and ½ cup of white vinegar. Machine wash cold and rehang in your shower to dry: The final spin cycle should take care of excess moisture.

For a top loader: Same rules of water and detergent above, except that you’ve got a center agitator to contend with. In order to keep it from shredding your delicate liner, load towels and rags that you also want to clean around the agitator’s fins to create a buffer, then place the liner closer to the outer edge of the drum.

3 Tips on How to Prevent Mold and Mildew

You may be cleaning your shower curtain frequently, but soap-induced gunk keeps building faster than anticipated. Luckily, there are some preventative measures you can take to keep the mold and mildew at bay.

1. Ditch the bar soap. Bar is soap is the number one culprit when it comes to creating soap scum, so swap it for body wash or opt for a non-soap cleansing bar instead.
2. Spray your shower weekly. Mix half a cup of white vinegar and half a cup of water in a spray bottle and spritz your shower curtain daily. If the smell of vinegar is too strong for you, mix in some lemon oil drops to dilute it.
3. Defer to store-bought products. If you don’t want to create any sprays of your own, you can always turn to store-bought products, that do the job just as well.