If you own a shower curtain, chances are you’ve seen some dirt and grime build up on the fabric or plastic lining. Humid environments, such as bathrooms, are breeding grounds for bacteria and mold, so shower curtains need to be periodically cleaned.

You can safely wash a fabric shower curtain and plastic liner in the washing machine to eliminate any mold or grime. Add baking soda or vinegar, an extra towel, and wash on warm for the most efficient clean. You can also hand wash shower curtains if you prefer.

This article will cover the importance of cleaning your shower curtain, how often you should do so, and how to safely wash it in the washing machine.

Is It Safe to Put a Shower Curtain in the Washing Machine?

It is safe to put a shower curtain in the washing machine. However, the fabric makes a huge difference. Some fabric shower curtains are made from a delicate material that needs to be dry-cleaned rather than machine washed.

The best way to tell if your specific shower curtain can go in the machine is to read the label. If you’re missing a label or otherwise unsure, the safest option to prevent any damage to the fabric is to send it to the dry cleaners. Otherwise, popping it in the wash is an easy and fast way to ensure it’s not harboring any mold.

Can You Machine Wash a Plastic Shower Liner?

You can safely machine wash a plastic shower liner. When done correctly, the liner will come out fresh, mold-free, and with no damage. Machine washing a plastic liner can help prolong its lifespan and ensure its cleanliness.

If you want to maintain a healthy showering space, cleaning your liner is crucial, but it can be time-consuming to do so by hand. Instead, try washing it in the machine for a practical and straightforward solution.

How Often Should You Clean & Replace a Shower Curtain?

If you’ve seen a build-up of grime on your shower curtain or liner, you might be wondering if it’s necessary to clean. Those gross spots of dirt and grime could be a sign of mold, something no one wants in their home.

The general consensus is that shower liners and curtains should be washed every few months and replaced after six months to a year. Though your curtain may not have visible mold, it is still susceptible to bacteria and should be cleaned and changed as needed.

Most likely, the dirt on your shower curtain will not make you sick. Though bacteria and mold can grow in moist environments in the shower, they are not usually dangerous to people with healthy immune systems.

However, if you have a lowered immune system, it might be a stressor. Inhaling mold can potentially worsen the symptoms of conditions like allergies and asthma. If you suffer from any respiratory issues, consult your doctor about how often you should clean your shower curtain.

Having to wash a shower curtain every few months might feel intimidating, but the good news is that there are a few cleaning methods.

How to Wash a Shower Curtain in the Washing Machine

The first method is using a washing machine, which is safe for your fabric curtain as well as the plastic liner.

If you decide to go this route, be sure to follow these steps for the best results:

  1. Verify that your particular curtain can go in the wash without damaging the fabric. Then, try a spot test of the detergent or soap you plan on using to ensure it will work on the material.
  2. Remove the hooks. Carefully take the shower curtain off the hooks used to attach it to the curtain rod, so they do not damage it in the wash.
  3. Add in one or two towels. This is an important step. Most people recommend adding at least one other towel in the washer in addition to the curtain. The extra towel will help in preventing damage and wrinkles to the curtain, and scrubbing the curtain for additional cleaning.
  4. Add detergent, vinegar, or baking soda. In addition to detergent, vinegar or baking soda can act against mold and improve cleanliness.
  5. Wash it on the ‘warm’ setting. Because your shower curtain may contain some bacteria and mold, you must wash it on the ‘warm’ setting to get it as clean as possible.
  6. Hang it out to dry. Though most curtains are acceptable in a washing machine, keep them out of the dryer. Instead, hang or lay flat to dry before placing it back on the curtain rod.

Washing by Hand

The second option is washing by hand. Most professionals recommend washing by hand in the open air, especially if using harsh cleaning supplies. While some people clean by spraying soap or cleanser on the curtain in the shower, this might not give you enough airflow to avoid breathing in the disinfectant.

Instead, follow these steps:

  1. Take your shower curtain off the rod and move to a bigger room or, even better, an outdoor area.
  2. Spray it with cleaner or a natural solution like apple cider vinegar, baking soda, or tea tree oil.
  3. Let it sit, so the product can break down the mold and bacteria.
  4. Wipe the cleaner off with a cloth or sponge and rinse thoroughly.
  5. Hang the curtain out to dry. Be sure the curtains are unfolded completely so they can dry evenly.

If you opt to wash your shower curtains by hand, it’s still important to maintain a frequent cleaning schedule so they don’t accumulate too much mold and bacteria.

You might also want to read: How to Clean a Shower Curtain Without Taking It Down


It’s perfectly safe to put your fabric or plastic shower curtain in the washing machine, provided you read the care instructions beforehand. Add some baking soda or vinegar, an extra towel to prevent damage, and leave it out to dry rather than using the dryer.

Washing a shower curtain by hand also works, but it may take more time. The most efficient way to remove mold and grime is to simply put it in the washing machine so you can enjoy a fresh, clean shower.

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