How to clean a shower curtain and liner – by hand or in the washing machine

This is how to clean a shower curtain and liner properly. Wash yours by hand, without taking it down or in the washer using vinegar, baking soda and more to banish mold and grime

Green tiled bathroom with white suite and shower curtain
(Image credit: chuckcollier / Getty)

Learning how to clean a shower curtain is essential if you want to keep your bathroom hygienic. If you have a non-washable, fabric curtain with a plastic liner protecting it, then use the same technique for learning how to clean a shower curtain liner.

Although shower curtains and liners may not feel or look as grimy as other parts of your shower, they do accumulate a lot of bacteria and eventually begin to grow mold. In any case, you want to clean your shower curtain before it looks visibly dirty. 

Fortunately, cleaning shower curtains is relatively easy – although be prepared to do some scrubbing if cleaning yours by hand. In most cases, you won't need store-bought cleaners, either. Natural ingredients, especially vinegar and baking soda, work well for shower curtains, if you know how to use them, 

Figuring out how to clean a shower for perfect, sparkling results takes attention to detail. So, don't ignore your shower curtain and get cleaning – your shower room will thank you for it.

How to clean a shower curtain: the easy step-by-step

You will need:

  • Baking soda
  • Three microfiber cloths

Andrew Bramley, the owner of professional cleaning business Pure Freedom, has a failsafe method for cleaning your shower curtain in just six easy steps: 

  1. Dampen a cloth with lukewarm water and add baking soda
  2. Begin by scrubbing the curtain or liner with the solution to breakdown any surface grime
  3. Then wipe it with another cloth that's dampened with warm water, use it to scrub away all of the baking soda. You may need to rinse the cloth and repeat a few times to ensure no baking soda is on the curtain
  4. Now aim to scrub the tougher stains. Get your cloth damp and add the baking soda, then focus on scrubbing out any mould or mildew
  5. Dampen another clean cloth damp with warm, clean water, and use it to rinse the shower curtain, taking care to remove all of the baking soda
  6. Rinse the shower curtain thoroughly before hanging back up to dry

The main trick here is baking soda: 'this stable household ingredient is brilliant for cleaning', says Bramley. Baking soda is an invaluable ingredient when learning how to clean a bathroom and should always be in your cupboard. 

Clear shower curtain with a white tile shower

(Image credit: Jamesmcq24 / Getty)

How to clean a shower curtain with vinegar

You will need:

  • White vinegar
  • A spray bottle
  • A cloth
  • A brush
  • Baking soda

To clean your shower liner or plastic shower curtain by hand using vinegar: Make up a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water and apply to the curtain using a spray bottle.

  1. Start by taking down the curtain, then spread it fully open
  2. Wearing gloves, wipe the shower curtain with a damp cloth to remove the dirt and any mold
  3. If there are still areas of dirt or mold left, sprinkle bicarbonate of soda over the area, then use a brush to tackle it
  4. Hang the shower curtain out to dry fully

White clean shower curtain in pink bathroom

(Image credit: Getty Images)

How to clean a shower curtain without taking it down

You will need:

  • A soft cloth
  • Vinegar
  • A spray bottle

If you've a plastic shower curtain or if it's your shower liner that needs a quick clean then you don't necessarily need to take it down: 

  1. Use a soft cloth, something like the E-cloth Scrubber Pad from Amazon
  2. Add the vinegar solution from the vinegar method
  3. Lift the grime off your shower curtain and liner

How to wash a shower curtain in the washing machine

You will need:

  • Two towels
  • Your regular laundry detergent
  • Baking soda
  1. Start by taking down the shower curtain and liner, removing any rings or hooks
  2. Place it in the washing machine along with a couple of towels which helps stop plastic shower curtains and liners sticking and wrinkling
  3. Add your regular amount of laundry detergent to the drawer with ½ to 1 cup of baking soda depending on the size and material of your curtain. Add more if yours is fabric
  4. Start the highest cycle at 40 or 60 degrees if yours is fabric. If you have a plastic shower curtain or liner, choose a gentler cycle
  5. When you reach the rinse cycle, add ½ to 1 cup of white vinegar
  6. Hang the curtain and liner out to air dry completely

How to clean shower curtain mold

You will need:

Mold sprays are highly effective to use on your shower curtain and are an integral part of learning how to get rid of mold in your bathroom:

  1. Apply the spray evenly all over the curtain
  2. Leave for half an hour
  3. Rinse off thoroughly with warm water.

blue pattern shower curtain over a bath

(Image credit: Photo by House Method on Unsplash)

How to keep your shower curtain clean

  • Air it out: Open the shower curtain completely after showering so moisture doesn’t linger in the folds of the material. Tackle any ventilation problems in the bathroom, too.
  • Avoid using soap: This will lessen the amount of soap scum buildup. Use a shower gel or cream instead.
  • Treat the bottom of the shower curtain daily: You can spray your shower curtain, specifically lower down, daily with a mixture of white vinegar and water to help dissolve lingering soap scum. Any remnants will wash off when you next shower and if you want a fresher smell, add in a few drops of your favorite essential oil/lemon juice.
  • Scrub weekly: Use the above mixture, but brush off the residue scum using a gentle brush, like an E-cloth Scrubber Pad.
  • Always try to keep the curtain dry: Andrew Bramley recommends achieving this 'by either ventilating the room after you finish showering by opening a window or by turning on the fan for at least 20 minutes after your shower'

How do you clean shower curtain rings?

Brambley recommends the following process for cleaning your shower curtain rings:

  1. Fill up your sink with warm water and add in 230ml of distilled white vinegar
  2. Soak the rings in this solution for a couple of hours
  3. Drain the solution and thoroughly rinse the rings with water
  4. If any loose dirt or rust is left use a toothbrush to scrub that away
  5. Rinse that all off again
  6. Finish by hanging them back up to dry

How often should you clean a shower curtain?

If you are one of those people who never clean their shower curtain, you are not alone. Apparently, only 9 percent of us clean our shower curtain on the twice-yearly basis recommended by experts at PlumbNation

However, cleaning expert Mrs D believes that every six months actually isn't enough. She recommends washing your shower curtain 'once a month if you use your shower regularly, or every other month if you don't use it that often.'  Her top tips are to wash it along with two towels - these will help scrub away dirt and mildew during the wash cycle.

How to clean a shower curtain liner

Good news! Your shower curtain liner should be cleaned in exactly the same way as your shower curtain. Shower curtain liners are made from the same plastic material as waterproof plastic shower curtains and are mainly used to protect non-waterproof shower curtains. You can, of course, simply discard your shower curtain lining after about six months, but be aware that they're non-biodegradable, so you may choose to clan yours at least a few times before replacing. 

Celebrity expert tips on cleaning shower curtains

Lynsey Queen of Clean keeps her process simple, 'Shower curtain, if you have one, put this in the washing machine.'

Martha Stewart apparently uses Clorox along with the usual amount of laundry detergent and 1/3 cup of bleach on a gentle washing cycle to tackle dirty shower curtains.

Now that's super fresh!

Anna is a professional writer with many years of experience. She has a passion for contemporary home decor and gardening. She covers a range of topics, from practical advice to interior and garden design.