How to Remove the Smell of Vinyl Shower Curtains

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The odor that emanates from new vinyl shower curtains is caused by off-gassing. Off-gassing is the slow release of noxious gasses from certain materials. It occurs with many products; latex paint is just one example. It is a minor annoyance for some people, but off-gassing can cause headaches, nausea and additional problems for other people. Just as with a new coat of paint on a wall, the curtain's odor will diminish on its own. You can speed up the process and spare yourself the intense, and often bothersome, odor of new vinyl.

Things You'll Need

  • Baking soda
  • Place the shower curtain in a washing machine. Add 1 cup of baking soda and wash it in warm water on the gentle cycle. Remove the curtain immediately after the wash cycle ends.

  • Hang the shower curtain on an outdoor clothesline to dry. It is important to place the curtain in the shade because sunlight may harm the vinyl.

  • Leave the curtain to air outdoors for at least 24 hours, weather permitting. If a strong odor remains, leave it for another 24 hours. Off-gassing takes time to subside.

  • Carry the curtain indoors and attach it to the shower curtain rod. Leave the bathroom windows and doors open to allow a good air flow to the bathroom. The air flow helps disperse more of the odor.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can hand wash (rather than machine wash) a vinyl curtain by scrubbing it down with baking soda and a mild detergent, then rinsing it well. Washing new curtains frequently (once a week) may diminish new vinyl odor more quickly. After each washing, hang the curtain to dry in the open air.
  • Use the gentlest cycle in your washing machine to prevent rips in the vinyl. Some people are sensitive to vinyl off-gassing and may develop headaches, or other symptoms, until the vinyl is odor-free. If the odor remains, keep the vinyl curtain outdoors to air until the smell has significantly subsided.

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