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 our step-by-step instructions for the best ways to wash fabric and plastic shower curtains and liners.

A shower curtain in a washing machine

How to clean shower curtains in the washer

Most fabric, plastic and vinyl shower curtains and liners can be cleaned in the washing machine. Curtains and plastic liners 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.

What you’ll need:

  • Laundry detergent
  • One or two bath towels
  • White vinegar (optional)
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 a cup of white vinegar.

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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 liners. Add a couple of bath towels, which will help wipe off dirt and residue and prevent the curtain from wrinkling during the cycle.

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Step 3: Hang the shower curtain to air dry
Once the wash cycle is complete, shake out the curtain or liner 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 and liners should only be air dried. Check the care label before attempting to put fabric curtains in the dryer.

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.

A bathtub with the shower curtain partially opened

How to clean shower curtains without a washer

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.

What you’ll need:

  • Baking soda
  • Laundry detergent or dish soap
  • Sponge, washcloth or soft scrub brush
  • White vinegar (optional)
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 a cup of white vinegar.

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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 and scrub the curtain with your cloth, sponge or brush. Rinse and repeat as needed.

Air dry 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.

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