How to Clean Shower Curtains and Liners So They Sparkle Like New

Tackle even the toughest soap scum with these smart cleaning tips for shower curtains and liners.

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 2 hours
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $15

It may not be until that telltale soap scum starts creeping farther and farther up the shower curtain that you notice it's dirty. While removing a shower curtain from its rings for cleaning can be a little cumbersome, it's well worth it. Germs love to lurk in showers, and orange mildew and black mold look unsightly and can even affect your home's air quality.

Fortunately, there are many easy tricks for how to clean a shower curtain; wrestling with the rings might be the most challenging part of the process. To start, practice good habits post-shower.

"A little time spent after each shower can help keep shower curtains and liners looking good for longer," says Jessica Ek, director of digital communications at the American Cleaning Institute. "One way is to make sure: after showering, you pull the curtain closed instead of leaving it bunched up on one side. This will help it dry out and keep mold and mildew from forming."

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

Cleaning a Shower Curtain Without Removing It

  • Spray bottle
  • Water

Cleaning a Shower Curtain in a Washing Machine

  • Towels
  • Water

Cleaning Shower Curtain Rings

  • Damp cloth
  • Water

Cleaning a Shower Curtain by Hand

  • Tub or sink
  • Water

Cleaning Mold from Shower Curtains

  • Spray bottle
  • Water


Cleaning a Shower Curtain Without Removing It

  • Vinegar

Cleaning a Shower Curtain in a Washing Machine

  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Mild laundry Detergent

Cleaning Shower Curtain Rings

  • All purpose cleaner (optional)

Cleaning a Shower Curtain by Hand

  • Baking soda
  • Laundry detergent

Cleaning Mold from Shower Curtains

  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Baking soda


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Julie Soefer

How to Clean a Shower Curtain Without Removing It

If you're pressed for time and don't want to take down your curtain, Lauren Bowen, director of franchise operations at Two Maids & A Mop, recommends a vinegar solution for cleaning a shower curtain. "The vinegar will help break down mold and soap scum that has gathered on the curtain," says Bowen.

  1. Prep Cleaning Solution

    Mix one part vinegar to four parts water in a spray bottle. Extend the shower curtain all the way across the rod.

  2. Spray Shower Curtain

    Spray the solution on the curtain, concentrating on the side that hangs in the tub, and completely saturate the curtain.

  3. Rinse and Dry

    Rinse the shower curtain with warm water from top to bottom. Let it air dry.

How to Clean a Shower Curtain in a Washing Machine

Most shower curtains and liners can be run through a washing machine, says Ek. Check the tags for any special instructions before firing up your washing machine, though.

  1. How to Machine-Wash Shower Liners

    Bowen advises adding some towels when you wash the liner. The towels will help absorb some of the water during the wash cycle. Run a cold water cycle and let the shower liner air dry rather than put it in the dryer.

    For extra protection against mildew, Bowen recommends adding ½ cup baking soda and ¼ cup vinegar in the rinse cycle.

  2. How to Machine-Wash Fabric Shower Curtains

    Most shower curtains made from fabric can be run through the washing machine like other linens. Read the tag and follow any instructions from the manufacturer. Bowen recommends choosing the highest water level and the gentlest cycle. Use warm water and mild laundry detergent to avoid damage. Like a liner, skip the dryer and let the curtain air dry.

  3. How to Machine-Wash Plastic Shower Curtains

    If you're wondering how to clean a plastic shower curtain, it can also go in the washing machine. Use cold water, and like with the plastic liner, throw in a few towels to help prevent wrinkles, says Bowen.

How to Clean Shower Curtain Rings

  1. Wipe Down Shower Curtain Rings

    While your curtains are uninstalled, take a minute to wipe down the shower curtain rings and rod.

    A damp cloth is likely all you'll need, but an all-purpose cleaner that's formulated for the material of the rod or rings can help wipe away any hard-to-remove residue.

How to Clean a Shower Curtain by Hand

If you can't bear the thought of one more load of laundry, skip the washing machine and wash your shower curtain by hand. Bowen recommends the method below.

  1. Add Curtain to Warm Water

    Remove the curtain liner from the rod. Fill your tub or a large sink with warm water. Add 1/4 cup baking soda and a splash of laundry detergent. Mix until suds form. Place the curtain in the water and gently agitate by hand.

  2. Rinse and Dry

    Rinse the curtain well with clean water. Let air dry.

How to Clean Mold from Shower Curtains

Bathrooms are notoriously damp spaces, which means mold and mildew can thrive on surfaces like a shower curtain. Ek recommends soaking the curtain in a diluted bleach solution to help kill mold and mildew growth. A DIY spray solution can also help get rid of mold and mildew, says Bowen.

  1. Mix Cleaning Solution

    Mix two parts hydrogen peroxide with one part water in a spray bottle.

  2. Spray and Rinse

    Spray the solution onto the mold stain and let sit for five to 10 minutes. Rinse the curtain.

  3. Scrub, Rinse, and Dry

    Use a baking soda paste to lightly scrub any remaining mold stains. Rinse the clean water and let the curtain air dry.

How Often Should I Clean a Shower Curtain?

Incorporate a quick shower curtain cleaning into your weekly chore routine, focusing on the curtain liner. Spray with a vinegar mixture (more details below), rinse, and wipe down. Regular cleaning helps keep mildew and mold at bay and curbs soap scum buildup on shower liners.

Aim to do a more thorough wash (such as in the washing machine) of the liner and the outer shower curtain once per month.

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