Interior Bathrooms Tubs & Showers

The Right Way to Clean a Shower Curtain, According to Pros From Molly Maid and DeluxeMaid

Don't toss out moldy fabric or plastic shower curtains—wash them and put them back into service! Learn the easy steps to washing shower curtains and liners clean by hand, or in the washing machine.
Close up of blue striped shower curtain.


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Given all the humidity, shampoo, and conditioner your shower curtain and liner are exposed to day in and day out, it doesn’t take much for mildew, water stains, and soap scum to accumulate on them. Not only is mildew unsightly, it and other molds can cause health problems for those sensitive to the fungi, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

While it might be easier to throw away that old shower liner and curtain and replace them with a new set, a more eco-friendly solution is to clean the curtains and keep them in service.

How to wash a shower curtain and liner can be as simple as cleaning them while they hang on the rod, or removing them and letting your washing machine do the dirty work. We tapped home cleaning experts Marla Mock, president of international cleaning company Molly Maid, and James King, operations manager at Indianapolis-based DeluxeMaid, to help us determine which methods and cleaning products work best for cleaning a shower curtain.

How often should you clean shower curtains and liners?

Dirty shower curtain.

King suggests cleaning a shower curtain and liner a few times a month. “Aim to freshen up your shower curtain and liner every 2 to 3 weeks,” he says. “But if there are stains or mold, immediately wash it,” he adds.

Mock stresses the importance of using a bathroom fan during and after showers to keep your shower curtain clean. “It’s essential to keep your bathroom clean, dry, and well ventilated to extend the time between cleanings,” she says.

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Project Overview

Working Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Skill Level: Beginner
Estimated Cost: $10-$15

Before You Begin

Cleaning a shower curtain and liner involves mixing cleaning products, which can be potentially dangerous. With this in mind, take the necessary precautions to protect yourself.

If you are cleaning by hand, always wear long rubber gloves and eye protection, and make sure the bathroom is well ventilated by turning on the exhaust fan or opening a window. Mock also cautions against combining vinegar and bleach when creating cleaning solutions, as doing so will create a dangerous toxic gas.

RELATED: Buyer’s Guide: The Best Shower Curtain Liners We Tested This Year

How to Clean a Shower Curtain

You can perform a quick cleaning while the shower curtain is on the rod or conduct a more thorough laundering by removing the curtain and hand-washing it or throwing it in the washing machine.

In the Washing Machine

Shower curtain in washing machine.
  • Check the curtain’s label to make sure it’s machine washable. If it’s not, you’ll have no choice but to hand-wash it.
  • Remove the rings before putting the shower curtain in the washing machine. “Use a gentle cycle with mild detergent,” Mock says. You also can toss in a towel or two with the curtain when washing it to help agitate the curtain. Set the wash temperature to warm for fabric curtains and cold for plastic shower curtains, since hot water can damage the plastic.
  • After washing the shower curtain, hang it back up to air-dry.

By Hand

Curtain soaking white fabric in soapy water.

If your shower curtain isn’t machine washable, you’ll have to hand-wash it. King says the easiest way to do that is to wash it right in the tub.

  • Lay the curtain flat in the bathtub and fill the tub with warm water and mild dish detergent.
  • Allow the curtain to soak for 15 to 30 minutes, then scrub it using a brush or sponge. “If there’s a stain, prepare a baking soda paste, apply, then leave it for 15 to 30 minutes,” King says. The reaction between the two will help loosen the mold.
  • Rinse the curtain thoroughly and hang it to dry.

RELATED: DIY Shower Cleaner Recipe

How to Clean Shower Curtain Liners

Clean shower liner on shower rod.

There are two options for cleaning your shower liner: You can throw a plastic or machine-safe fabric liner into the washing machine or, if you’re short on time, leave it on the rod and clean it by hand.

In the Washing Machine

  • After placing the curtain in the washer, add a small amount of detergent and set the washer to the gentle cycle.
  • If you’re washing a plastic liner, use cold water. For fabric liners, use warm water.
  • Air-dry the liner by hanging it back up on its rings or hooks.

By Hand

  • Create a 1:1 mix of warm water and dish detergent in a spray bottle.
  • Move the curtain to one side to expose the liner
  • Lightly spray the shower curtain liner, paying particular attention to the stained spots.
  • Use a soft brush to scrub away the grime.

RELATED: Buyer’s Guide: The Best Shower Curtains

How to Clean Shower Curtain Rings

Person hands on shower curtain rings.

Don’t forget the curtain ring or hooks when you’re cleaning curtains since they, too, can be havens for mold and corrosion.

  • Remove the plastic shower rings and soak them in a sink filled with hot soapy water.
  • Allow the rings to soak for about 30 minutes, then scrub away any dirt or mold. “Use an old toothbrush or any soft brush and make sure to get into the nooks and crannies if you spot any grime or soap scum,” King says.
  • If you have metal shower rings and notice rust forming on them, soak the rings in some white vinegar overnight to remove the corrosion.
  • Rinse the rings thoroughly before attaching them to the curtain and shower rod.

What Not to do When Cleaning Your Shower Curtain

How to clean a shower curtain includes a few tips on what to avoid when cleaning curtains and liners. Never put your shower curtain in the washing machine with the hook rings still attached, as it could damage the curtain. Mock also cautions against putting plastic shower liners in the dryer; the heat will damage them.