Ah, the humble shower curtain liner: It’s the thing you don’t give much thought to—until it’s visibly dingy, with hard water and soap scum stains, or worse, that “pink slime” (a strain of mostly harmless yet gross-looking bacteria) streaking it. And at that point, you may be wondering whether you should even bother scrubbing it—or just toss it and start over.
Especially in light of a 2021 study that found that shower curtains harbored far more bacteria than any other bathroom surface swabbed, including the toilet seat, shower floors and faucet handles. It wasn’t just a smidge dirtier, either—research found that shower curtains contained about 60 times as much bacteria as a toilet seat, with about 93 percent of those germs being gram-negative rods, which can be potentially harmful to people.
So, how often should we be cleaning it, what’s the best way to do so, and when should you flat out replace it? We thought you’d never ask. Here, a few quick answers.