How to Clean Your Shower Curtain and Liner

Your shower curtain is even grosser than your toilet seat—here's what to do about it.

You probably haven't given much thought to how to clean your shower curtain and liner. And even if you have, let's face it: Shower curtains and liners can be a real pain to keep tidy. But it's imperative you start cleaning them because they're indeed disgusting.

A 2021 study by Safe Home found that your shower curtain harbors 60 times more bacteria than your toilet seat. In fact, shower curtains and liners are among the grossest spots in the bathroom by leaps and bounds. Here's how to clean your shower curtain with or without a washing machine—as well as how to de-grime a shower door.

How Often to Clean Your Shower Curtain and Liner

You should clean your shower curtain and liner about once a month. In addition, daily upkeep will help these bacteria-prone fabrics last longer. "Washing the curtain and liner can be added to your monthly task list," says Georgia Dixon and Angela Bell of Grove Collaborative's Grove Guides. "Keeping the curtains mildew-free can really prolong their lifespan, as mold and mildew can break down the fabric."

"I used to replace my [shower curtain and liner] every six months or so," says Jeneva Aaron, a Sacramento–based home decor blogger. But what a waste of money and materials, right? "If you're trying to save money, you can keep your shower curtain until washing it doesn't work anymore," Aaron adds.

What You Need:

With a Washing Machine

  • Baking soda
  • Towels
  • Cleaning vinegar

Without a Washing Machine

Shower Door

  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar

How to Clean Your Shower Curtain in the Washing Machine

Aaron keeps her cleaning routine simply by taking her shower curtain off its rings and popping it in the washing machine on a regular laundry cycle once a month.

Step 1: Put Shower Curtain and Liner in Washing Machine

"Throw it in the machine with ½ cup of baking soda and a towel or two," she says. "The baking soda will break down the grime, and the towels will wipe it off as it spins." The towel trick will also work wonders on a plastic liner because it'll help keep it from wrinkling in the machine.

But to be safe, wash any other laundry in a separate load. And while plastic shower liners can go in the washing machine, make sure it never gets tossed into the dryer.

Step 2: Add Vinegar During the Rinse Cycle

Once the washer hits the rinse cycle, Aaron suggests adding ½ cup vinegar to break down any leftover dirt.

Step 3: Hang to Dry

When the cycle is finished, take the shower curtain out and hang it up to dry.

How to Clean Your Shower Curtain Without a Washing Machine

Step 1: Spritz Daily With Shower Spray

Use a daily shower spray to help maintain your liner and curtain for longer. "Add a few drops of tea tree oil to the spray bottle for extra antibacterial and antifungal properties," Dixon and Bell suggest.

Step 2: Try an Enzyme Stain Spray

If your curtain or liner is showing signs of a buildup, especially around the bottom, use an enzyme stain spray, soak it in an oxygen whitener, and scrub with a soft scrub brush before laundering. This will help remove all that grime and get it like new again.

Step 3: Try Soaking in Baking Soda and Vinegar

Here's Aaron's favorite trick, even if you don't use a machine: "You can soak a plastic liner in a baking soda and vinegar solution to remove soap residue."

How to De-Grime a Shower Door

Shower doors are quick and easy to clean too, but they require a little elbow grease. Here's how to de-grime the shower door.

Step 1: Make a Paste of Vinegar and Baking Soda

Add a few drops of distilled white vinegar to one cup of baking soda, and stir to make a thick paste.

Step 2: Apply the Paste to the Door

Once you've applied it to the door, let it sit for an hour. The solution needs time to work to penetrate the soap scum.

Step 3: Rub It In

Use a microfiber cloth to rub it in. After rinsing off the paste, buff the door dry using a fresh microfiber cloth.


How many shower curtain liners should I buy?

Bell and Dixon suggest buying two of the same liner and curtain so you can rotate them out and make them last just a bit longer. Genius, right?

Does it matter whether I buy a plastic or fabric liner?

No, but if you prefer a plastic liner, Dixon and Bell say it's best to look for a PVC-free shower curtain liner as it will likely be toxin-free. Still, a fabric liner like the LiBa Fabric Bathroom Shower Curtain ($14; can work wonders and may be a better choice for cleanliness and the environment. "A fabric liner can work great in a well-ventilated bathroom," they say. "Fabric liners can be cold-water washed regularly if you're looking for a more sustainable option to plastic."

How often should I replace my shower curtain or liner?

It's time to invest in a new shower curtain or liner when "visible mold stays after laundering," Bell and Dixon say. If you see any signs of "light brown stains still on it" after a cycle in the wash, Aaron says, "that's when you should throw it away."

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