Scientists have reported that polyvinyl chloride (PVC) shower curtains out-gas toxic materials into the air in your home. This news has sent consumers scrambling for other options. Nylon and polyester shower curtains are two "PVC-free" options on the market today. There has been research done on the differences between polyester and nylon fabric shower curtains.
Polyester and nylon showers curtains are quite durable. Many curtains composed of these materials can be washed in your washing machine and dryer. While both of these polymer-constructed materials are resilient, nylon has been found to be more durable and more long-lasting than polyester. This has been attributed to the strong molecular composition of nylon, which forms an elastic and smooth material that resists dirt and other materials that could weaken the material otherwise.
Both polyester and nylon are hydrophobic fabrics, which means that both have the tendency to repel water. However, when exposed to an abundance of water over time (such as in your shower), nylon has been found to absorb more water than polyester. This means that a nylon shower curtain will take longer to dry out after it has become wet. Some companies have fixed this problem by applying water and stain-repellent finishes to nylon shower curtains to help extend the lifetime of the curtains.
Even though polyester and nylon curtains are more durable and water resistant, some researchers argue that neither are environmentally friendly options because both contain materials that cannot be degraded easily in landfills. The installation of sliding glass doors in lieu of a shower curtain has become a popular "green" alternative because it reduces the amount of waste produced throughout a person's lifetime. Other alternatives also include hemp, linen and cotton shower curtains, all of which are composed of materials that are more degradable than polyester and nylon and are widely accessible in stores and on the Internet.
When it comes down to it, you should decide what shower curtain will best suit your needs, budget, and lifestyle. Nylon and polyester shower curtains are affordable and resilient. Nylon shower curtains have been found to be more durable than polyester, but can absorb more water and stay wet longer than polyester does if not coated with additional water resistant material. There are also environmentally friendly options that are easily degraded in landfills. If you are looking for a shower curtain that does not contain toxic PVC chemicals then either a nylon or polyester shower curtain would be an excellent choice for your household.