How To Clean Plastic Or Vinyl Shower Curtains

How To Clean Plastic Or Vinyl Shower Curtains

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Plastic or vinyl shower curtains have a practical purpose in the bathroom but they are one of the most overlooked items when it comes to cleaning the house. If you have a shower then you will probably have shower curtains and liners to protect the real curtains. Chances are that they are dirty and you haven’t washed them lately.

What makes your plastic or vinyl shower curtains so dirty? The liners are used to protect the shower curtains, but they can also get covered with a buildup of soap scum, mold, bacteria, and mildew due to the damp conditions inside the bathroom.

In due course, the shower curtains also become dirty as they stay in a humid and damp place. They are surrounded by hard water, body oils, soap scum, and bacteria. Can you imagine you spend about 15-20 minutes in this space every day?

While tossing away the dirty plastic or vinyl shower curtains may seem like an easy solution, you can clean them with less effort and in less time than you think. You can save that money for something else! So, read on to find out how to clean plastic or vinyl shower curtains.

Two Methods To Clean Plastic Or Vinyl Shower Curtains

There are two cleaning methods to get rid of the scum and dirt from your shower curtains and they are – cleaning in a washing machine and hand washing without a machine. Let’s me take you through both the methods and the cleaning agents you can use in both scenarios.

Method 1: How To Clean Plastic Or Vinyl Shower Curtains In Washing Machine

Cleaning in a washing machine is the easiest of the two method as there’s less or no effort needed. Just put the dirty curtains in the machine with the right cleaning agent and the job is done. I recommended putting 2-3 white towels along with the curtains.

The towels act as a buffer to protect the curtains from getting damaged and also scrub away the dirt and grime. Just follow the steps below:

  • Put the dirt curtains in the washer and add one of the cleaning agents (bleach, baking soda, or vinegar)
  • Add mild detergent to the washing machine (avoid any type of fabric softener)
  • Run the appliance on a warm or hot cycle (delicate or normal setting)
  • Hang the shower curtains to air-dry

Choosing the right cleaning agent

1. Bleach

Mold and mildew love the warm conditions in your bathroom, hence they thrive and multiply like crazy. To get rid of them, add 1/4 cup of regular laundry detergent and 1/2 cup of chlorine bleach to warm water. Let the washer run for a few minutes and then load it with curtain and towels. Add the cleaning solution and let the machine do its job. Hang dry on the curtain rod when the wash cycle completes.

2. Baking Soda

If there are stubborn stains and molds in the shower curtain, add a half cup of baking soda to the mild washing detergent when the wash cycle starts. Follow with a half cup of vinegar during the rinse cycle to disinfect. Allow the curtains to drip dry instead of putting in the dryer as the plastic will melt due to heat.

3. Vinegar

Vinegar not only helps in removing the ugly mold stains on plastic shower curtains but also helps in getting rid of bad odor. You may add one cup of white vinegar during the first rinse cycle. Take out the curtains before they go into the spin cycle and let them hang-dry in the open.

5 Things To Avoid When Cleaning Shower Curtains In A Washing Machine

  • Never wash in a cold wash cycle as this can make your plastic or vinyl curtains more brittle. A hot water cycle is suitable as the curtains become malleable, hence it’s easier to clean when they move around in the hot soapy water.
  • Avoid the temptation of drying the shower curtains in a washing machine’s dryer as this can not only melt the plastic but also damage your appliance.
  • Don’t use a detergent containing harsh chemicals as this may damage the curtains. Use a mild detergent and take adequate quantity for a medium-sized load.
  • Never use fabric softener when washing curtains in a washing machine. It only adds a layer of dirt to the shower curtain and this further attracts more dirt and grime.
  • Don’t set the machine on heavy cycle because the shower curtains are light and they can be cleaned easily and quickly in the delicate or normal mode.

Method 2: How To Clean Plastic Or Vinyl Shower Curtains Without Machine

If you have don’t have a washing machine, you can hand wash your plastic shower curtains using baking soda, mild detergent, and a microfiber cloth(see my reviews). Follow the steps below to get clean and fresh curtains:

  • Mix together water, gentle detergent, and a little baking soda to make a thick paste.
  • Dampen a rag towel or microfiber cloth and apply the above-prepared paste on it
  • Now, gently scrub the plastic or vinyl shower curtains in a gentle circular motion to remove the dirt
  • Now wipe the curtains with another cloth dampened in fresh warm water
  • If there are stubborn dirt marks or hard water stains, use a sponge and the above baking soda paste to spot clean that area
  • Rinse the curtain thoroughly to get rid of the soapy residue completely before hanging to air dry

Pre-treating Plastic Or Vinyl Shower Curtains

Pre-treating a new shower curtain before hanging it can work as a protective film to prevent the buildup of mold and dirty scum. Run your new curtain in the rinse cycle of your washing machine and add a small quantity of distilled white vinegar to the water. Make sure the water is warm, not hot.

When the rinse cycle completes, hang the curtain on the rod and let it air dry. This pre-treatment can go a long way in keeping your new curtains from getting dirty and scummy.

Tips To Prevent A Shower Curtain From Getting Dirty And Moldy

The most important tip is to ensure air circulation within the bathroom. Try to keep it as dry as you can by ventilating the room after you finish showering. Open a window or turn on the ceiling fan for 15-20  minutes to let there be good airflow.

Keep the curtains always in the permanently closed position to ensure that the curtain liners get dry quickly as moisture can get trapped between the folds. This can later become a breeding ground for molds.

You may use a daily shower spray to prevent your shower curtains from getting dirty. Mix together one cup of vinegar, half a cup of water, and one tablespoon of tea tree oil. Spray this solution on the curtains to keep mold and mildew away.

The bathtub and tiles also need daily care, so you may spray some of the above solutions on them too. Besides inhibiting mold growth, it leaves behind a nice fragrance of tea tree oil.

Avoid replacing the plastic curtains every time they become dirty to reduce the wastage in the environment. It takes only 10 minutes or even less to clean them in your washing machine.

Cleaning Other Ares Of The Shower

You take a shower to get clean so it’s imperative that the area around you is clean as well. Following a few cleaning habits daily can save you from a lot of work later on. Besides ensuring that you keep your bathroom well ventilated and keep your shower curtains clean, here are a few tips to clean the other areas of the shower.

Unclog The Drain

Many things such as hair and soap scum can clog the drain and create serious plumbing issues if neglected. Make it a habit to remove the dirt and debris accumulated over the drain after each shower and throw it away in the dustbin.

For neglected drains that contain solid particles, use a mixture of a ¼ cup of ammonia like this and 1 liter of hot water. Pour this into the drain to flush out the dirt and unclog the pipe. If this still doesn’t work, call a plumber.

Clean The Bathtub, Floor Tiles, And Wall

Body oil and soapy residues can stick on the walls and the bathtub leading to a slimy coat that becomes the breeding ground for mold and mildew. A quick cleaning step performed weekly can save you from the trouble. Remove the bottles, soaps, razors, and other tools from the shower area. Rinse the entire area with hot water to disinfect your surroundings.

Prepare a cleaning solution by mixing 1 cup of vinegar, 1/2 cup baking soda, 1 cup ammonia, in a gallon of hot water. Spray this solution on the wall, around the bathtub and so on. Use a sponge or soft cloth to gently scrub the area to remove the dirt and mold. Avoid using metal scrubbers. Rinse with clean water.

For effective cleaning, divide the entire area into 3-4 sections. Start with cleaning the bathtub and floor tiles, then to different sections of the wall, one at a time. Wipe and rinse each section before you get to work on the next one.

To remove grout stains from the floor tiles, mix bleach and water in a 1:2 ratio in a spray bottle. Spray on the area to be treated and let it soak for a few minutes. Turn on the shower and the dirt will be washed away.

Cleaning The Showerhead

how to clean your shower head

The water you bathe with travels through the showerhead, so it makes sense to clean and disinfect it. To clean it once a month, take a plastic bag and fill it with white vinegar  (1 cup or more) depending upon the size of the showerhead. Make sure the holes completely submerge in the vinegar solution.

Tie the mouth of the plastic bag with a rubber band and leave it overnight. Next morning, take out the showerhead and rinse it with clean water. Attach the showerhead and run hot water to flush out the holes.

Related Questions

What tools can be handy to clean a shower?

If you want a maintain a clean and hygienic shower, some of the cleaning tools you must have in your bathroom are a scrub brush with soft bristles, old toothbrush, lint-free rag, microfiber cloth, sponge, squeegee, and toilet brush.

How often should I clean my plastic or vinyl shower curtains?

You come face-to-face with your shower curtains almost every day, so it’s important to take good care of it. I suggest washing them at least once every month or at least once in every three months to keep them clean and germ-free.