How to Clean a Shower Curtain

Soap scum and mildew can build up on shower curtains if they are not cleaned and dried properly. When attacked with everyday cleaning products, they might seem impervious, but their not. Read on to learn how to slay this beast.

What You’ll Need

  • Washing machine
  • Several towels (preferably white)
  • Laundry detergent
  • Vinegar
  • Liquid fabric softener (optional)
  • Bleach
  • Baby oil

The Cleaning Process

  1. Remove the curtain and take off the rings.
  2. For cloth curtains, follow the cleaning instructions on the tag.
  3. For vinyl and plastic curtains, machine wash with 2 large towels, 3-4 hand towels, or 5-6 washcloths. (The towels will act as scrubbers.) Use detergent and 1/2-c. vinegar with cold water on the gentle cycle. WARNING: Do not wash in hot water or your curtains may melt. You may also choose to add liquid fabric softener. If your curtains have mildew, replace vinegar with 1/2-c. bleach.
  4. Hang curtains back up over tub to drip dry. WARNING: Do not ever dry them in the dryer because, once again, your vinyl or plastic curtains could melt. Turn on the bathroom fan for extra circulation. Wrinkles will disappear from the steam produced from normal shower use. Make sure the bottom edge of the curtain is spread out evenly over the tub.
  5. Prevent mildew by stretching the curtain out after each use as suggested by Good Housekeeping’s Household Handbook. Graham and Rosemary Haley also suggest rubbing baby oil over the bottom quarter of the curtain to prevent soap scum build-up, in their book Haley’s Cleaning Tips.


  1. This worked really well. I used socks instead of towels – because of the bleach.


  2. I tried everything, but nothing worked. Then I tried the following:

    Wet the curtain and spray bleach; then brush and wash away the stains!!!

  3. I have a white fabric shower curtain (one that doesn’t require a liner) and the soap scum stain is disgusting! Any ideas on how to get it off? I should probably just start from scratch with a new one.

Leave a Comment