Soap scum and mildew are icky facts of life, and they just love a shower curtain.  Frugalistas refuse to toss out a shower curtain before its time and buy new, however, when it’s so easy to clean most of them.

Fabric shower curtains can usually be laundered in lukewarm water and a gentle machine cycle — check the tag to be sure — but how do you clean a vinyl shower curtain?

In fact, it’s actually very easy to get a vinyl shower curtain looking as clean as new.  Just pop it into the washing machine every couple of weeks with the bath towels and a splash of ordinary laundry detergent, and wash the whole lot in warm water.

  • Note that the water has to be warm — not hot and not cold. Hot water will shrivel up the curtain and end its useful life — and cold water will make it too stiff to slosh around in the washer.
  • The other key here is to be sure to throw it in with the towels, because the towels will buff gently against the curtain and help to get it clean. (Saves a lot of “elbow grease”!)

Stop the washer before it progresses to the cold-water rinse, and take out your nice clean vinyl shower curtain while it’s still warmed up, and all soft and flexible.

Hang it back up on the rod over your tub, and just use the showerhead spray to rinse off any leftover detergent.

There you go!

And here’s a sneaky little mildew-fighting tip that I discovered by happy accident:

See, our upstairs bathtub is set under a sloped ceiling, so the shower rod is set a bit lower than normal. That means the average shower curtain is always a bit too long, so I just trim it off at the bottom with scissors to keep it from dragging underfoot in the tub.

And that’s how I discovered the benefits of cutting off the stupid little hem they put at the bottom of a vinyl shower curtain (why do they do that, anyway? It’s not as if vinyl will ravel and fray like a woven fabric!)…

That turned-up hem is just a trap for mildew and grime. You don’t need it, so get rid of it.  Yes, get out the scissirs and just cut it off. Without the hem to trap moisture and soap scum and such,  your shower curtain stays cleaner-looking for much longer.

Curtain photo: PlayfulLibrarian

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