how do you wash plastic shower curtains

How Do You Wash Plastic Shower Curtains?

Plastic shower curtains, found in many households, serve the dual purpose of adding an aesthetic touch to the bathroom and preventing water from spilling outside the shower area. These can also be used as a bathtub curtain. Over time, they can accumulate soap scum, mildew, and other unsightly residues. The good news is that these curtains can be rejuvenated with a few cleaning methods.

Plastic shower curtains can be effectively cleaned using various methods, such as the washing machine combined with baking soda, hand washing with vinegar and lemon. or a baking soda scrub with essential oils. Regular cleaning, every two to four weeks, prevents soap scum and mildew buildup, ensuring the curtain remains fresh and aesthetically pleasing.

Here’s a comprehensive guide to ensuring your shower curtain remains spotless and fresh-smelling.

Wash Plastic Shower Curtains Using the Washing Machine and Baking Soda

Baking soda is a natural cleaning agent that can enhance the effectiveness of your washing machine cycle. Incorporating it into the washing process can lead to a cleaner, fresher shower curtain for your shower. Here’s how you can combine the power of your washing machine with baking soda.

Step 1: Remove the Curtain

Detach the curtain from its rings or rod. Give it a gentle shake to dislodge any loose particles.

Step 2: Place in the Washing Machine

Lay the curtain inside your washing machine. To prevent any tangling or sticking, include a couple of bath towels.

Step 3: Add Detergent and Baking Soda

Pour in a gentle detergent. Sprinkle a half cup of baking soda into the drum for its natural cleaning properties. If your curtain’s care instructions allow, you can also add a small amount of bleach for extra disinfection.

Step 4: Wash on Gentle Cycle with Warm Water

Start the machine on a gentle cycle, ensuring the water temperature is set to warm.

Step 5: Add White Vinegar during Rinse Cycle

Once the washing cycle is near its end, add a cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle. Vinegar will act as a natural softener and help in breaking down any leftover soap scum.

Step 6: Remove and Shake Gently

After the cycle finishes, take out the curtain and shake it gently to remove excess water.

Step 7: Hang to Dry

Hang the curtain in a well-ventilated spot, ensuring it’s spread out for even drying. Avoid wringing or twisting the plastic to prevent any damage.

Deep Cleaning Plastic Shower Curtains with Vinegar and Lemon

Combining vinegar with lemon juice can provide a potent yet natural cleaning solution for your plastic shower curtain. Lemon’s citric acid aids in breaking down grime, while vinegar tackles soap scum and mildew. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to utilize this combination.

Step 1: Gather Materials

Collect your plastic shower curtain, white vinegar, fresh lemons, a large basin or bathtub, and a soft scrubbing brush.

Step 2: Prepare the Cleaning Solution

Mix three parts of white vinegar with one part of freshly squeezed lemon juice in a large basin or your bathtub.

Step 3: Immerse the Curtain

Submerge the shower curtain fully in the vinegar and lemon solution. Ensure every part of the curtain is covered by the liquid.

Step 4: Let it Soak

Allow the curtain to soak in the solution for about an hour. This will help in loosening the accumulated dirt and grime.

Step 5: Scrub Away the Stains

After soaking, use the soft scrubbing brush to gently clean the curtain. Focus on any stained or grimy areas, using circular motions.

Step 6: Rinse Thoroughly

Once you’ve scrubbed the entire curtain, rinse it with cold water until all the cleaning solution is washed off.

Step 7: Dry in Fresh Air

Spread the curtain out and hang it outside if possible, or in a well-ventilated space. This ensures it dries evenly and helps to eliminate any lingering odors.

Refreshing Plastic Shower Curtains with Baking Soda and Essential Oils

Baking soda combined with essential oils can be a powerful duo for cleaning and deodorizing your plastic shower curtain. Essential oils not only add a pleasant aroma but also possess antimicrobial properties that can assist in the cleaning process. Here’s how to harness these ingredients for a spotless and fragrant curtain.

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

Prepare the following items: your plastic shower curtain, baking soda, a bowl, a soft brush, water, and your choice of essential oils (e.g., tea tree, lavender, or eucalyptus).

Step 2: Create the Cleaning Mixture

In a bowl, combine baking soda with a few drops of essential oil. Add just enough water to form a thick, spreadable paste.

Step 3: Spread the Paste

Lay the curtain flat, either on the floor or a large table. Apply the baking soda and essential oil mixture to any stained or dirty areas.

Step 4: Let it Sit

Allow the paste to set on the curtain for about 20 minutes. This gives it time to break down any stubborn dirt or grime.

Step 5: Gently Clean

Using the soft brush, scrub the areas where the paste was applied. Use gentle, circular motions to lift away the dirt.

Step 6: Wash Away the Residue

Rinse the curtain with cold water, ensuring all traces of the baking soda mixture are removed.

Step 7: Air Dry

Find a spot with good air circulation to hang the curtain. Allow it to dry fully before rehanging it in your shower. This helps in preventing mold and mildew growth.


What is the best way to clean soap scum off a plastic shower curtain?

Soap scum can be a persistent issue for many homeowners. A combination of distilled white vinegar and baking soda can be quite effective. Prepare a mixture by blending the two ingredients until a paste forms. Apply this paste onto the affected areas and let it sit for 15-20 minutes. Using a soft brush, scrub the areas gently before rinsing with cold water.

Can I use bleach to clean my plastic shower curtain?

Bleach is a potent agent that can effectively remove mold and mildew. Yet, its strength can sometimes compromise the integrity of certain plastics. Before using bleach, it’s essential to check the manufacturer’s recommendations for your specific curtain. If you decide to proceed, always dilute the bleach with a significant amount of water and work in a space with good ventilation. Remember to wear gloves to protect your hands.

How often should I wash my plastic shower curtain?

A regular cleaning routine can extend the life of your shower curtain and keep it looking new. Depending on how frequently the shower is used and the local water quality, cleaning the curtain every two to four weeks can be beneficial. Observing the curtain and noting any signs of soap scum, mildew, or a musty odor can also dictate when a cleaning is necessary.

How do you prevent plastic shower curtains from forming mildew?

Mildew thrives in damp environments. To deter its growth, it’s advisable to keep the bathroom ventilated, especially after showers. Using an exhaust fan or leaving a window open can aid in reducing humidity. After each use, spreading the curtain out helps it dry more quickly, reducing the chance for mildew to form. Periodic cleanings using vinegar, which is a natural mildew deterrent, can also be beneficial.

How do you dry plastic shower curtains after washing them?

Once you’ve washed your shower curtain, it’s important to allow it to dry thoroughly. Hanging it outside on a sunny day can be an effective way to dry it quickly and naturally. If outdoor drying isn’t an option, placing the curtain in a space with good air flow, such as near an open window or a fan, can expedite the drying process. Always ensure the curtain is fully dry before placing it back in the bathroom to prevent the onset of mold or mildew.


Maintaining a clean plastic shower curtain is essential for both aesthetic reasons and to prevent the buildup of harmful mildew. With the methods provided above, you can keep your curtain in pristine condition. Remember to always check care instructions, and when in doubt, opt for gentler cleaning methods.