A gray and white shower curtain.

How to clean shower curtains and liners

It’s easy to forget that both fabric and plastic shower curtains need to be cleaned of unsightly soap scum, grime or residue that can build up over time. Fortunately, cleaning your shower curtain or liner may be as simple as tossing it in the washing machine every few months to keep it looking like new. Follow these step-by-step instructions for the best ways to wash fabric and plastic shower curtains and liners.

Make a selection below to learn how to clean a shower curtain or liner.

A white shower curtain being placed in a washer. A white shower curtain being placed in a washer.

How to wash a shower curtain in the washing machine 

Most fabric, plastic and vinyl shower curtains can be cleaned in the washing machine. Curtains with magnets in the bottom are also usually fine to toss in the washer. As with any item, check the care label first for specific instructions.

Tools
  • One or two bath towels

  • Washing machine

Supplies
  • Laundry detergent

A shower curtain icon.

Step 1: Take the shower curtain off the rod and remove the rings

Detach the curtain or liner from the shower rod and take off all of the rings. If they’re looking dingy, you can clean the rings separately by soaking them in the sink with hot water and detergent.

A washer icon.

Step 2: Wash the shower curtain in the washer

Put the shower curtain or liner in the washing machine and use a small amount of detergent. Choose a gentle cycle with warm water and the highest water level. Delicate or handwash cycles with slow spin speeds are safest for plastic curtains. Add a couple of bath towels, which will help wipe off dirt and residue and to help balance the load.

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Step 3: Hang the shower curtain to air dry

Once the wash cycle is complete, shake out the curtain and hang it back up on the shower rod to air dry. While some fabric curtains can be tumbled on low heat in the dryer, plastic or vinyl curtains should only be air dried. Check the care label before attempting to put fabric curtains in the dryer.

Learn how to wash and dry towels.

 

Cleaning tip: If your shower curtain is especially grimy or has built-up residue, you can add ½ cup of bleach or color-safe bleach to the load. Make sure to follow your washer’s owner’s manual for recommendations and the location to add beach.

A white Whirlpool® washer and dryer set. A white Whirlpool® washer and dryer set.

How to clean a plastic shower liner in the washing machine

Cleaning a plastic shower liner in the washer can be as simple as doing a regular load of laundry, but with some special instructions to avoid damaging your liner. Refer to the washing directions on your liner before placing it into your washer. Adjust to a low spin cycle speed and add towels to help balance the load.

Tools
  • Washing machine

Supplies
  • Detergent

  • Bleach

A washer icon.

Step 1: Use warm water

Wash your plastic or vinyl shower liner in warm or cool water on a gentle cycle with high water levels. Be mindful to avoid hot water as that may damage your liner.

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Step 2: Add detergent

Adding detergent to your load can help clean your liner and remove any soap scum. 

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Step 3: Dry the liner

After the washing cycle is complete, remove the liner and hang it back on the shower rod or outside to air dry.

Cleaning tip: To help remove extra build up, soak your liner in warm water and a mild detergent before you run it through a washing machine cycle.

A hanging shower curtain with a design at the bottom. A hanging shower curtain with a design at the bottom.

How to clean fabric and plastic shower curtains by hand

For shower curtains or liners that you’d prefer not to toss in the washing machine or that need some extra scrubbing, handwashing is also a great option.

Tools
  • Sponge, washcloth or soft scrub brush

Supplies
  • Baking soda

  • Laundry detergent or dish soap

A shower curtain icon.

Step 1: Take the shower curtain off the rod and remove the rings

Detach the curtain or liner from the shower rod and take off all of the rings. If they’re looking dingy, you can clean the rings separately by soaking them in the sink with hot water and detergent.

A water droplet icon.

Step 2: Dampen the curtain and scrub away stains

Lay the curtain in the bathtub and dampen it with water. Sprinkle on the baking soda and/or apply a teaspoon of dish soap or a tablespoon of laundry detergent. Then, scrub the curtain with your cloth, sponge or brush. Rinse and repeat as needed.

A sun and water droplet icon.

Step 3: Hang the shower curtain to air dry

When the curtain is clean and rinsed, shake it out and hang it back up on the shower rod to air dry.

Cleaning tip: To keep your shower curtain cleaner longer, apply a general shower cleaning spray after every shower to help prevent soap scum and other grime buildup.

A person folding laundry with a Whirlpool® washer and dryer nearby. A person folding laundry with a Whirlpool® washer and dryer nearby.

Additional tips for cleaning a shower curtain or liner

You clean your bathroom regularly, but how often do you wash your shower curtain or liner? Getting rid of soap scum and cleaning your curtain does not have to be a daunting task. Learn how with tips and tricks below.

Can you put a shower curtain in the washer?

Shower curtains can be washed in a gentle cycle with high levels of warm or cool water and detergent. Remember to always check the care tag before washing, and use a low speed spin cycle.

Can you wash plastic shower curtains?

Plastic shower curtains may be washed by hand or in a washing machine. If washing by hand, soak the curtain in your bathtub and scrub with a soft brush and soap until clean. Or, toss your curtain in the washer on a gentle cycle with mild detergent and a few towels. Refer to your shower curtain’s care tag for optimal washing recommendations.

How often to wash a shower curtain?

As a best practice, consider washing your shower curtains at least once a month. With daily usage in your home, shower curtains and liners can quickly become soiled, but by regularly hand washing or running through your washing machine can help keep them fresh and clean.

What temperature to wash a shower curtain?

When washing a shower curtain, warm or cool water is ideal to help prevent damage to your shower curtain or plastic liner. When in doubt, wash in a gentle cycle with a low temperature and slow spin speed.

More items you can clean in the washer

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