Shower curtains and liners become dirty and unsanitary over time due to mold, mildew, and soap scum build-up. You would think a shower curtain would be the cleanest things in your house- but the damp conditions and soap scum that builds up makes this a dirty disaster.
Bodies combined with bar soap equal soap scum. Toss in possible hard water, and a shower curtain, means you are looking at one dirty shower curtain. Whether your shower curtain is cloth, plastic or vinyl, it’s the bar soap that’s the culprit. Consider switching to body wash which will not result in those nasty deposits on your tub, shower and shower curtains.
The majority of shower curtains can be cleaned in a washing machine. However, if your shower curtain is hand wash only, you can scrub it down yourself with baking soda and warm water.
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How to Clean Shower Curtains
There are different ways/methods to clean your shower curtain using bleach. Some of them are listed below.
METHOD 1: Clean Shower Curtains with Bleach and Vinegar
- Remove the shower curtain from the wall in your bathroom. Then, place it in your washing machine. Remove any metal hooks that may be on the shower curtain before placing it in your washing machine.
- Put one or two towels into the washing machine. This will help prevent the shower curtain from wrinkling, sticking to itself, and being torn apart in the machine. The towels also scrub the shower curtain while the washing machine is going. The towels you use should be clean.
- Add the normal amount of laundry detergent you would use for a load of laundry. Then add half a cup to a cup of baking soda. Bigger shower curtains will require more baking soda.
- Use bleach for built-up stains. For mildly dirty shower curtains, you do not need anything other than baking soda and detergent. However, if there is a lot of mildew and other stains on your curtain, add bleach.
- After adding your baking soda and detergent, turn the machine on. Pour in half a cup of bleach as the washer fills with water. Only add bleach if your shower curtain is white or transparent.
- Select the highest cleaning level.
- Wash your shower curtain in warm water.
- Add vinegar during the rinse cycle. When the washing machine switches to the rinse cycle, open the machine. Pour in a half-cup to a cup of the distilled vinegar. Restart the machine and allow it to finish the cycle.
- Hang the shower curtain or liner to drip-dry. Never dry a shower curtain. Instead, hang it back up in the shower after it’s done in the washing machine. It should drip dry on its own from there.
Also Read: How to Clean Blinds Without Taking Them Down
METHOD 2: Clean Shower Curtains with Bleach and Detergent in Washing Machine
- Take the shower curtain off the rod.
- Pour ½ cup or 1cup of Clorox® Regular-Bleach2 with CLOROMAX® into the washing machine.
- Add laundry detergent as usual and start the wash. Most liners can be washed in the washing machine with laundry detergent and bleach.
- Dry your curtain by hanging it back on the curtain rod.
METHOD 3: Clean Shower Curtains with Chlorine Bleach.
- Get mold and mildew off your shower curtains.
- Wash them — along with a couple of bath towels (to prevent the plastic curtains from crinkling) — in warm water with 1/2 cup chlorine bleach and 1/4 cup laundry detergent.
- Let the washer run for a couple of minutes before loading.
- Put the shower curtain and towels in the dryer on the lowest temperature setting for 10 minutes, then immediately hang-dry.
METHOD 4: Clean Shower Curtains with Bleach and Detergent.
- Put the shower curtains in the clothes washer.
- Add 1 cup of bleach and 1 cup of detergent.
- Add several dirty towels or a blanket, etc. to the washer and run on a gentle cycle using either warm or hot water.
- Right after the spin cycle, take the shower curtains out of the washer, take them back to the tub and shake gently to remove as much water as possible.
- Hang them back up to drip dry. The combined effect of gravity and the hot steam from using the shower or bath will cause any remaining wrinkles to disappear within a day.
Removing Mold and Mildew
To remove any mold and mildew that does occur, you can wash the curtain in the washer, or soak it in the bathtub with about 1 cup of bleach. Let it sit for about 20 minutes. Mold and mildew on plastic curtains can be cleaned with water in the bathtub and approx. 1 cup of bleach.
After the wash, soak them in either vinegar or a saltwater mixture to prevent mold and mildew.
METHOD 6. How to Clean Shower Curtains with Oxygen Bleach
- First, remove the stained fabric shower curtain.
- Next, get your powdered oxygen bleach and add a scoop to a very large bowl that’s big enough for your shower curtain to fit in completely.
- Dissolve the powder into about 1 gallon of very hot water. If your bowl is really big and you can add another gallon of hot water, just add a second scoop of oxygen bleach.
- Put your shower curtain in the water with the bottom hem going in first. The bottom of the liner will have the worst stains, so you want to be sure it gets the most contact with the hot water and oxygen bleach.
- Let it soak for 3 or more hours. Overnight is fine. You can also soak your shower curtain in your washing machine if it allows. If your washing machine doesn’t put out very hot water, use the bowl method.
- After it has soaked for a while, agitate it in the bowl.
- At this point, you can either get ready to wash it if one oxygen bleach treatment did the trick, or drain this water off and start a new soak.
- After a second soak, it’s time to wash it in the washing machine.
- To wash it, follow the instructions on the tag.
- Once it’s washed, you can either hang it up in the shower to dry or hang it up outside on a sunny day to reduce any remaining stains.
METHOD 7: How to Clean Shower Curtains with Non-chlorine Bleach.
- Takedown the fabric curtain and fold it inward to prevent the mold spores from spreading.
- Remove the curtain rings as well if mold has collected around them.
- Go outside, lay the curtain on the ground and brush away as much of the mold as you can.
- Fill a tub with 2 quarts of hot water. Add 4 tablespoons of non-chlorine bleach and the shower curtain.
- Let it soak for an hour.
- Put the curtain rings and brush in the tub to kill any mold spores they may have picked up.
- Remove the curtain from the tub, fold it and gently press out the bleach-infused water.
- Shake, and rinse in a tub of fresh, warm water.
- Remove and fold again to remove the water. Do not twist to ring it out as the fabric will wrinkle.
- Hang in the sun, if possible, or return it to your shower to hang dry.
How to Clean Fabric Shower Curtains with Bleach
- Remove a fabric shower curtain from the curtain rings and lay it on a flat surface.
- Saturate the stains with commercial laundry stain remover or a paste made of 1 tablespoon of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of water.
- Scrub the stain with an old toothbrush and allow the stain remover to work for 30 minutes.
- Wash the fabric curtain in cold water with mild laundry detergent. If the curtain is made of white cotton, add 1/2 cup of chlorine bleach to the washload. Otherwise, add 1 cup of white vinegar or a scoop of oxygen bleach and wash the curtain on the gentle cycle.
- Hang fabric curtains outside to line dry if possible. Otherwise, hang them back on the shower rings and allow them to dry with the bottom of the curtain outside the tub.
How to Clean Plastic Shower Curtains with Bleach
- Remove a plastic or vinyl shower curtain from the curtain rings and lay the curtain in the bathtub.
- Turn on the bathtub faucet and run water over the curtain to wash off as much soap scum and mildew as possible.
- Sprinkle baking soda on the curtain and scrub the entire surface with a nylon-bristled scrub brush, rinsing as you go.
- Use chlorine laundry bleach to clean stubborn stains. Add 2 tablespoons of bleach to 1 cup of water, pour it over the stain and scrub it with the scrub brush.
- Repeat until the stain is gone, then rinse off the bleach.
- Hang the plastic curtain back up on the curtain rings and allow the bottom of the curtain to dry outside the tub.
METHOD 10: How to Clean Shower Curtains with Bleach, Baking Soda or Vinegar.
- Remove the curtain and take off the rings.
- For cloth curtains, follow the cleaning instructions on the tag.
- For vinyl, plastic or nylon curtains, machine wash with 2 large towels, 3-4 hand towels, or 5-6 washcloths. (The towels will act as scrubbers.) Use detergent and either 1/2-c. vinegar or 1/2-c. baking soda with cold water on the gentle cycle. WARNING: Do not wash in hot water or your curtains may melt. If your curtains have mildew, replace vinegar with 1/2-c. bleach.
- To hand-wash a vinyl, plastic or nylon curtain, spray it with white vinegar while it is still hanging in the shower, then scrub it with a scrub brush. Rinse the curtain in the shower afterwards.
- Hang curtains back up over tub to drip dry. Do not ever dry them in the dryer because, once again, your vinyl or plastic curtains could melt. Turn on the bathroom fan for extra circulation. Wrinkles will disappear from the steam produced from normal shower use. Make sure the bottom edge of the curtain is spread out evenly over the tub.
- Remove stains, such as mildew stains, on a vinyl or plastic curtain by rubbing them with a Magic Eraser.
- Prevent mildew by stretching out the curtain after every shower.
METHOD 11: How to Clean Shower Curtains with Bleach for a Great Deal of Mildews and Soap Scum
If you’re dealing with a great deal of mildew and soap scum, and if your shower curtain is white or transparent, reach for a bottle of bleach. Place the curtain in the washing machine along with some towels (white towels, that is). Start the machine, and as the drum begins to fill with water, pour in a half-cup of bleach and a quarter-cup of detergent. From here, let the washer do the work. Then, before the start of the spin cycle, pull out the curtain and check to see how it looks.
If it’s cleaner but not satisfactorily clean, consider repeating the process above. Also note that at this point, you may be able to finish up by hand, using mild soap in combination with a sponge or cloth rag.
Additional Tips on How to Clean Shower Curtains with Bleach
The following tips can help you to prevent mildew from taking root and proliferating in the future:
- Most bar soaps generate soap scum. Body wash, on the other hand, rinses away without buildup.
- After bathing, spray the area with homemade shower cleaner. The next time you shower, the water will wash away the cleaner, along with collected grime.
- Use a scrub brush to loosen mildew as you wipe down the curtain as part of your regular weekly bathroom cleaning routine.
- Once your fabric shower curtain is free of mold, hang it with a liner. Look for mold-resistant fabric liners.
- Help keep the hem of your fabric shower curtain free of mold by separating it from the side of the shower or tub when you’ve finished showering. This lets air circulate, preventing the growth of mold.