Although we use the tub or shower every day, it's easy to forget that the shower curtains need to be cleaned too. Your shower curtain liner and (to a lesser extent) your shower curtain are regularly exposed to high levels of heat and moisture, which is the perfect recipe for mold and mildew, to say nothing of soap scum, dust and other contaminants. Luckily, washing shower curtains is quick and easy.
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Washing Your Shower Curtains
Check the label on your shower curtain for care instructions before beginning the cleaning process. Most shower curtains and liners, fabric and plastic alike, can be safely cleaned in the washing machine. Clean the shower curtain liner once a month and the exterior shower curtain once every three months. At a minimum, clean both interior and exterior curtains twice a year to avoid mold, mildew and unpleasant shower curtain smells.
Remove the shower curtains from the curtain rings or hooks before washing. If the rings are dirty, you can place them in a sink full of warm water with a cup of white vinegar. If the care label advises against putting your curtains in the washing machine, hand washing them is pretty easy too. Mix one part vinegar to four parts water in a spray bottle and use the mixture to spray the entire shower curtain. Rinse with warm water and repeat as necessary.
Additional Laundering Tips
Shower curtain liners should be laundered along with clean towels, which enhances the wash cycle's cleaning power and prevent the liners from wrinkling. Set the washer to a gentle cycle with warm water and if possible, remove the curtains at the conclusion of the rinse cycle. Shower curtains don't need to go through the spin cycle, which can cause the curtains to wrinkle or can even damage them.
The cleaning agent you use on your shower curtains should vary based on the state of the curtains. If you are performing a routine cleaning, detergent is usually an adequate cleanser. To ensure that you're getting rid of all the mold or mildew, you have a few different options of add-ins. Some experts recommend including a half cup of baking soda and a quarter cup of vinegar in the rinse cycle.
For more intractable stains and buildup, you can try adding a half cup of color-safe bleach, which removes mildew, kills mold spores and removes built up dirt and scum. At the conclusion of the wash cycle, shake out the curtains to get rid of excess moisture and then replace them on the shower rings and let them hang dry.
Drying a Shower Curtain in a Dryer
By and large, shower curtains should not go in the dryer. Vinyl or plastic shower curtains can melt if exposed to the high heat of a dryer cycle. Some fabric shower curtains (these are typically the outer curtain, not the liner) can be placed in the dryer on the delicate cycle.
Check the label carefully before placing any shower curtain in the dryer. In most cases, the shower curtain will dry on its own when hung back on the curtain rings.
If you do decide to place a shower curtain in the dryer, it can be helpful to check on it a few times during the dry cycle to be sure it isn't melting. Nice though it is to maintain a shower curtain for a prolonged period of time, if you ruin your dryer via melted shower curtain, cleaning it is no longer worth it.