How to clean a shower curtain to keep mould and mildew at bay

If you’re sick of getting a mouldy shower curtain stuck to your leg, you’re going to want to read this

Blue bathroom with waterprint shower curtain
(Image credit: Future PLC / Dan Duchars)

We all know the importance of cleaning a bathroom, but there’s a high chance that you’re skipping over one of the dirtiest areas of the room. And that’s why we’ve asked the experts to explain how to clean a shower curtain once and for all. 

In fact, we think shower curtains should be given more credit. They’re forced to contend with never-ending condensation, they’re tasked with keeping 10-12 litres of water in check every single minute, and we all just expect the humble piece of plastic to repel soap scum and dirt with ease. 

But in reality, the shower curtain gets incredibly dirty, one of the main reasons many people choose to avoid entertaining shower curtain ideas in a bathroom. Let’s be honest; there’s nothing worse than getting a wet and mouldy shower curtain stuck to your leg while you’re mid-wash. 

Blue bathroom with waterprint shower curtain

(Image credit: Future PLC / Kasia Fiszer)

However, we think they should be shown a bit more love as an affordable way to add a stylish spin to your bathroom, especially if you live in a rented home. But you will need to know how to keep a shower curtain clean to keep it looking its best.

How to clean a shower curtain

‘Some recommend throwing shower curtains out after three months, but if you look after your shower curtain properly, it should last a year,’ says Lynsey Crombie, AKA Queen of Clean. Thankfully, you don’t need to be a cleaning wizard to know how to clean a shower curtain. You just need to follow this easy step-by-step guide. 

What you’ll need


1. Remove your shower curtain

Although you don’t necessarily have to remove your shower curtain to clean it, it’s easier and more effective to do so. This way, you can focus on soaking your shower curtain and giving it a good clean rather than giving it a simple wipe-down.

To do this, all you need to do is remove the shower curtain from the curtain rings. Then, place your shower curtain in the bath. Just make sure to keep the curtain rings separate. 

White bathroom with terrazzo curtain

(Image credit: Future PLC / Philip Lauterbach)

2. Fill your bath with water, baking soda, and white vinegar

Next, you’ll want to give your shower curtain a good soak. To tackle stains and remove soap scum and grime, you’ll want to half-fill your bathtub with warm water and add two tablespoons of baking soda - a staple cleaning essential you probably already have in your utility room

After giving it a little mix, you can then add a cup of white vinegar and fill the tub with more water so that the whole shower curtain is covered. Then, let it soak for around 30 minutes. 

White vinegar, lemons and bicarb for cleaning

(Image credit: Future PLC)

3. Wipe with a microfibre cloth

After half an hour, your shower curtain should already look sparkling and new. However, giving the shower curtain a good wipe with a microfibre cloth should loosen any remaining dirt or grime. 

You shouldn’t have to rub too hard to remove this scum. If you do, you might want to leave the shower curtain to soak for a little longer. 

4. Tackle any stubborn stains

After cleaning your shower curtain, you may find stubborn stains still remain. These stains are normally found in the seam at the bottom of the curtain and can be difficult to remove during the soaking process.

It’s easy to clean these smaller nooks and crannies, though. Cleaning expert Joyce French at suggests, ‘Grab a damp cloth and sprinkle baking soda over it. Then, focus on scrubbing any set-in stains or spots of mildew.’ 

If you need to, you could also incorporate some more white vinegar to tackle the ingrained stains. You may also find that using a toothbrush or small cleaning brush will help to loosen up this stubborn and hard-to-get mould. 

Once again, finish by wiping the area with a damp microfibre cloth.

Blue shower with white curtain

(Image credit: Future PLC)

5. Rinse the shower curtain and hang it back up

When you're confident that mould and mildew have been removed, grab your showerhead and rinse your shower curtain with cold water. Be sure to remove all of the white vinegar and baking soda.

Then, hang your shower curtain back on the curtain rail and allow it to dry.

How to keep a shower curtain clean

Once you’ve mastered how to clean your shower curtain and you’re left with one that looks as good as new, it’s important to maintain that cleanliness. 

In fact, experts suggest giving your shower curtain some TLC after each use to ensure that mould and mildew stay away. This doesn’t need to be as intense as the step-by-step method above, though.

All you need to do is spray your shower curtain with a 1:1 mixture of water and white vinegar and let it work its magic. 

As well as this, it’s also important to keep your bathroom conditions as stable as possible. This means using your extractor fan while you’re showering and opening up your windows if you can. 

Double hand basin in a wooden vanity unit with a bath and white shower curtain

(Image credit: Future)


How do you clean plastic shower curtains?

The best way to clean plastic shower curtains is to use a mixture of baking soda and white vinegar. You can either use these ingredients to wash a curtain by hand, or you could add them to a washing machine with your shower curtain.

However, we’d always encourage you to wash by hand, as this allows you to scrub stubborn areas that need a little bit of extra attention. 

Can you wash shower curtains in washing machine?

Yes, it’s possible to wash shower curtains in a washing machine. Peter Clayton, bathroom expert from Trade Plumbing, says, ‘Plastic shower curtains can be put in the washing machine. However, they should be washed with cold water and should be washed with towels to prevent the shower curtain from crumpling and wrinkling.’

However, not all shower curtains are machine washable, so it’s always a good idea to check the label before you go ahead and shove it in the washing machine. The last thing you want to do is accidentally shrink your shower curtain.

And while some shower curtains are machine washable, that doesn’t mean that you should. As a lot of the mould and mildew in a shower curtain can get stuck in the crease at the bottom of the curtain, sometimes it’s more effective to clean by hand. This way, you can ensure that you’ve cleaned every inch of the shower curtain and been able to get into the nook and crannies. 

Lauren Bradbury

Lauren Bradbury is a freelance writer and major homes enthusiast. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Chichester in 2016, before dipping her toe into the world of content writing. After years of agency work, writing everything from real-life stories to holiday round-ups, she decided to take the plunge and become a full-time freelancer in the online magazine world. Since then, she has become a regular contributor for Real Homes and Ideal Home, and become even more obsessed with everything interior and garden related. As a result, she’s in the process of transforming her old Victorian terraced house into an eclectic and modern home that hits visitors with personality as soon as they walk through the door.