Shower curtains are one of the dirtiest places in your home and one of the most difficult things to clean. But can you wash them, and how would you do it? Can you put any type of shower curtain in the washing machine?
You can wash shower curtains, but you must be careful when washing vinyl or plastic shower curtains in the washing machine. Fabric shower curtains can be washed and dried like your clothes, but not vinyl or plastic curtains. They should be air-dried to avoid melting.
Keep reading if you want to know how to wash your shower curtains and keep them nice for many years. You’ll learn how to wash them by hand, by machine, and while still hanging on the shower rod.
Are Shower Curtains Machine Washable?
Shower curtains are machine washable. Fabric curtains can be washed in a warm or hot setting, while plastic and vinyl should be washed using only warm water. All curtains should also be washed on a gentle cycle to avoid ripping them.
You can dry fabric curtains in the dryer but on low heat. There might be elements in the fabric curtains that can melt.
Plastic and vinyl shower curtains should not go in the dryer, as they can melt if the dryer is in a high heat setting. Instead, you’ll need to hang the plastic and vinyl curtains back up in the bathroom after they come out of the washer.
How Do You Clean a Plastic Shower Curtain?
To clean a plastic shower curtain, take it down from the curtain rod and put it in the washing machine. Then, place a towel in the machine with ½ cup (64 g) baking soda to cut through the grime and start the washer. Make sure your washer is set on the Normal or Gentle cycle.
Why would you put a towel in the machine with your plastic shower curtain? The purpose of the towel is to keep the curtain from wrinkling in the washer. Towels also will scrub the curtain clean while in the machine.
Not only do you get a clean curtain, but you also get a clean towel or two.
Also, if your curtain is extra dirty, you can add ½ cup (64 g) of vinegar to the rinse cycle to take away the extra dirt.
The water temperature should be warm, as the cold water could make the plastic too brittle, which can shred when the spin cycle starts.
You can also use either a mild detergent or vinegar alone, but you don’t want to use them all at once, as you could have an explosion in your washer. While it’s okay to use baking soda first, then vinegar during the rinse cycle, if you use both of those simultaneously, the chemical reaction might be enough to bubble out of your washer.
It could look like one of those sitcoms from the 80s when an inept bachelor would try to do his own laundry and put too much soap in the machine.
How To Clean Shower Curtains
While you probably keep the rest of your house spotless, you might not think that the dirtiest place in your home is the shower curtain. While you could throw them out once every six months, you might want to save a little money and wash them.
But how can you wash them? What’s the best method to get them sparkling clean? While you could leave them on the curtain rod and try cleaning them that way, it might not go so well for you.
Instead, you’ll need to take them down and use the method discussed in the following sections.
Wash By Hand
Taking your shower curtain down to wash by hand is optional. However, if you have enough space to lay out the curtain, you may want to take it down. The reason is that if your curtain is particularly grimy, you can use pressure to scrub it well.
That being said, here are the steps you need to take to wash your shower curtain by hand:
- Remove the shower curtain from the rod, and take it off the rings.
- Lay it down on the floor over a large piece of cardboard or a large sheet.
- Using a spray bottle filled with water, dampen the entire side of the curtain.
- Sprinkle baking soda evenly over the curtain and let it sit for 10-15 minutes.
- Take a microfiber cloth and wipe the baking soda and water off the curtain.
- If there is any dirt or scum left, repeat as necessary.
- Rinse well using the same spray bottle.
- Wipe the excess water off the curtain, then hang it up in the shower to let dry.
Wash By Machine
Washing your shower curtain in the washing machine might be a better way, and it doesn’t take as much work as washing it by hand. For one reason, you can throw it in with a towel or two, put in some sort of cleaning agent, and start the machine.
Then you can do other things while the machine is still working.
If this seems to be more appealing to you, let’s go over the steps you need to take to wash your shower curtain in the washing machine:
- Remove the shower curtain from the curtain rod, as well as all rings.
- Put the shower curtain in the washing machine, along with 1-2 towels.
- Measure out your cleaning solution.
- Make sure the water temperature is warm, and the cycle is set to normal or gentle.
- Start your machine.
- When the washer is done, pull out the curtain and hang it up in the bathroom to dry. Then dry your towels like you normally do.
As we mentioned earlier, you don’t want to put the shower curtain in the dryer, especially if it is vinyl or plastic. However, if you want to dry your fabric curtains in the dryer, set the dryer to low heat and tumble dry until it is mostly dry. Hang up immediately, so there are no wrinkles later.
Do You Need To Wash the Curtain Rings?
You don’t need to wash the curtain rings, as they don’t get as grimy. But it’s still a good idea to wash them at the same time you wash the curtain. Fill a bowl with warm water and 1 cup (128 g) vinegar to wash your curtain rings. Put the curtain rings in the bowl and let them soak.
Why would you want to wash your curtain rings? When they are on the curtain rod, they collect a lot of dust and get moldy due to the constant steam from showers. If you’re washing your shower curtain, you might as well wash the rings too.
Here’s how to wash your curtain rings:
- Fill a large bowl with warm water and 1 cup (128 g) of white vinegar.
- Put the rings in the water/vinegar solution.
- Let them soak until your curtain is out of the washer or when you’re done hand washing your curtain.
- Take the rings out of the water and vinegar and put them in the bathroom sink.
- Rinse thoroughly with warm water.
- Using a paper towel or dishcloth, wipe each one clean.
- If they are still grimy, repeat the process.
- Hang up your curtain.
These steps are only suitable for plastic rings. Metal rings should be treated differently, or they could rust, which is never a good thing for your bathroom.
Here’s how to wash metal shower curtain rings:
- Once the shower curtain is in the washer, remove the hooks from the curtain rod.
- Wipe the hooks with a damp cloth to remove the dust and any scum that might come off easily.
- If there are limescale deposits, get another cloth wet with vinegar.
- Scrub the hooks the best you can with the vinegar cloth until the deposits are gone.
- Rinse with cool water, then wipe dry.
- Replace hooks on the curtain rod.
Why Wash Shower Curtains Instead Of Throwing Them Out?
You should wash your shower curtains instead of throwing them out because it saves money and keeps your shower fresh from every cleaning. You can wash your shower curtains several times before they wear out.
If you consider that new shower curtains cost at least $15-$20 each, and you only keep a curtain for 6 months, you are spending $30-$40 per year on shower curtains. However, if you wash your curtains once a month and keep them for at least 2-3 years, you could save up to $60-$120 or more.
Those savings are starting to look a little better, right?
Well, let’s consider that you spend a little more money for higher quality shower curtains, and they last for at least 5 years. Say they cost around $60. I mean, these are very high quality, and they are guaranteed to last a very long time.
If you keep them clean and nice for at least 5 years, you only spend $12 per year on shower curtains. You would save up to $200 on shower curtains over the course of 5 years.
Throwing out shower curtains every 6-8 months is not necessary, and it wastes money.
How Often Should You Wash Shower Curtains?
You should wash your shower curtains about once per month. Any more than that, and you risk more wear and tear on the curtains than necessary. Any less than that, and the mold and bacteria will grow and make your shower a dangerous place to get clean.
Washing your shower curtains once a month will keep the mildew and mold at bay, as they can eat away at the material, whether it is plastic, vinyl, or fabric. Put this chore on your calendar of cleaning chores, so you remember to do it.
How To Keep Your Shower Curtain Clean Between Cleanings
You’ve spent all this time washing your shower curtain, but you don’t want to have to do it that often. How can you keep it clean?
After every shower, spray the inside of the curtain with white vinegar and water. Then, pull the curtain closed and let it dry. The bathroom should be well-ventilated to let the steam out, and you should turn on the bathroom vent fan.
Then, about once per week, sprinkle baking soda on the bottom of the curtain and let sit 15 minutes. Wipe clean and rinse. Doing this will keep the mold and scum from accumulating, and it can keep things fresher, and your bathroom will also smell better.
When Should You Throw Out Your Shower Curtain?
You should throw out your shower curtain when it is either too dirty to clean anymore or when it is so shredded that it doesn’t keep water off your bathroom floor. Also, when the mold is still on the curtain, no matter how many times you wash it, it’s time to throw it out.
Shower curtains don’t last forever, and you can get several years out of one if you’re careful and you wash it once a month, as mentioned above. However, there comes a time when even the most cared-for shower curtain must meet its end.
Of course, if you want to upgrade or renovate your bathroom or give it a new look, you can also buy new shower curtains and toss out the old ones.
Shower curtains can pick up a lot of bacteria, mold, mildew, and soap scum, which makes them grimy and dirty. Rather than pitching them when they get this dirty, you might be better off washing them, either by hand or machine.
Of course, if you absolutely must throw out a vinyl or plastic shower curtain, you could keep it as a liner for the driveway if your spouse changes the oil in your car. This will keep any oil spills off the driveway, and you get new shower curtains. It’s a win-win!
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