How Often Should Plastic Shower Curtains Be Replaced?

Shower curtains are bathroom essentials and plastic ones are thought to be low maintenance and long-lasting. However, you might have noticed some dirt or mold on yours and are now wondering if it is time for a replacement. After thorough research, we learned how often to replace your shower curtain.

It is recommended that plastic shower curtains be replaced after 6 to 12 months of use. If your curtain looks grimy and moldy long before then, it is most likely due for a wash, not a replacement. 

Can plastic shower curtains be washed? Are there any tips to keep them fresh-looking? How long is long enough before replacing them? Read on for well-researched answers to your questions.

Modern small bathroom with bathtub and plastic shower curtain, How Often Should Plastic Shower Curtains Be Replaced?

How Often Should Plastic Shower Curtains Be Replaced?

Many plastic shower curtains are advertised as waterproof and stain resistant and thus long-lasting. While plastic curtains might not show stains as easily as their fabric counterparts, mold, mildew, and other dirt can accumulate over time and require cleaning. 

Even with regular cleaning and maintenance, you should replace your shower curtains every six to twelve months.

The exact replacement frequency depends on factors such as:

  • the curtain quality,
  • the type of liner you use,
  • the number of people living in your home,
  • and how often your curtains are cleaned. 

How Long Does a Plastic Shower Curtain Last?

Front view blue bathroom Curtain with white rail in bathroom

Most plastic shower curtains are made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) which is highly durable. They can last a long time.

However, because of the shower's wet environment and the consequent accumulation of mildew and mold, it's suggested to change your curtain at least once a year.

Can You Wash a Plastic Shower Curtain?

Not only can you wash your plastic shower curtains, you actually should wash them regularly whether or not there are obvious signs of dirt on them.

It is recommended that you wash and disinfect your plastic shower curtains weekly. Else, the mildew on them can cause skin, eye, and throat irritation in some people. 

Washing Machine

Clothes washing machine in laundry room interior

You can wash your plastic shower curtain both by hand or with a washer. While most plastic shower curtains are machine washable, check your curtain's care tag to be sure yours isn't an exception. 

If using a washer, make sure to use a warm setting, but not higher than 40 degrees, and on a gentle cycle. Cold water can make the curtain brittle while hot water will make it melt.

Vinegar, gentle laundry detergent, or baking soda can be used. To prevent your curtain from wrinkling, include a towel or two in the washer. 

Hand Washing

Hand washing

If handwashing, make a cleaning solution using warm water and baking soda in equal parts. Alternatively, gentle detergent or vinegar can be used instead of baking soda.

Moisten a microfiber cloth using this solution and use it to clean the curtain. Rinse afterward in warm water. If stubborn stains or soap scum still remain, scrub the affected spots again until the stain is removed.

How Often Should Towels Be Replaced?

Basket with clean towels on table

When it comes to bathroom hygiene, towels are usually afterthoughts, if they are ever considered. However, consider that your towel is the last thing that comes in contact with your skin after having a bath or shower.

A dirty towel can undo all the work done in the bath or shower and it doesn't do its job of drying you properly. To have your towels in the best state, you need to maximize their lifespan.

Experts recommend that towels should be replaced every two years. You might need to replace yours sooner, though, if any of the following applies:

  • You need to run your towel several times over your body to dry yourself. This is a sign that your towel's fibers are no longer as absorbent as they should be.
  • Signs of wear and tear like holes and frayed edges.
  • Lingering odors even after using. This means the towel's fibers are not being washed sufficiently enough to get rid of bacteria. 

Do note however that your towel might lose its functionality and freshness long before you notice any of these signs. Two years is a good minimum lifespan to work with.

What Can I Do With Old Plastic Shower Curtains?

Whether you are redecorating, or your curtain is old enough for a change, the need to toss your plastic shower curtain is bound to come up. However, note that plastic shower curtains are not biodegradable. They also can't be recycled. 

Fortunately, there are several uses your old plastic shower curtain can be repurposed for, such as: 

  • Pillowcases for your patio pillows. Because your plastic shower curtain is plastic and inherently waterproof, it's the best material for waterproofing your outdoor pillows. 
  • Mulching. Your old shower curtains are well suited for mulching your garden. Their plastic make-up ensures that the roots of the plants remain warm and weeds are kept at bay.
  • Protecting floors from paint and food spills: You can lay your old curtain over the floor during dinner or painting to prevent spills from falling onto the floor itself.
  • As an underlay for your picnic blanket: Preparing to go picnicking after a slight rain or dewfall? You might want to take your old plastic curtain along to lay underneath your blanket to prevent it and your bottoms from getting wet. 
  • Tablecloth for arts and crafts table: Rather than use a fancy expensive tablecloth for your kids' crafts table, you can repurpose your old plastic shower curtain for the job. 
  • Camp carpet: Your old curtain will suffice quite well for your camp floor. Of course, this will depend on the size of your camping tent.
  • Waterproof bed liner: If any of your younger kids are still being potty trained, using an old plastic shower curtain to line the bed is a great way to keep the bed dry.

Repurposing Shower Curtain Materials

Shower curtains made of other materials than plastic can also be repurposed. If waterproof, they can be repurposed similarly to plastic curtains.

Fabric shower curtains are usually made of vinyl or polyester which are waterproof. You can check your curtain's care instructions to be sure it's made of polyester or vinyl.

If your curtain is made of cotton, however, it will not be waterproof, and you probably also know this from long usage. It can nevertheless be upcycled for use as bedroom curtains, picnic blankets, tote bags, and temporary screens for doors.

Will Vinegar Remove Mold From Shower Curtain?

Dark brown mildew mold on plastic interior shower curtain

Vinegar contains 5-8% acetic acid making it a great cleaner and disinfectant. Because of its disinfectant properties especially against fungus, it is perfectly suited to fighting mildew and mold which are fungi. 

You probably already have vinegar in your kitchen, making it an inexpensive and accessible curtain cleaner.

Mix and spray a solution of equal parts water and white vinegar on your plastic shower curtain while wiping it down with a cloth.

This should get rid of any mildew or mold. Make sure to clean your curtain this way immediately if you notice any mold. A weekly clean is advisable. 

How Do I Keep My Shower Curtain From Molding?

When it comes to mold, you want to make sure to prevent it as much as you can. The first way to do this is to cut away excess material from the curtain if it is bigger than needed.

Shower curtains come in one-size-fits-all and might be wider than you need them to be. That extra material means extra folds that water can get trapped in and cause mold to form. 

Also, spray a water-and-vinegar solution on your shower curtain after your shower. Close your shower curtain once you're done having your bath to let it dry out properly.

Mold grows in wet environments so keeping to shower curtain dry helps prevent mold growth. A weekly wash also goes a long way in keeping your shower curtain fresh and mold-free.

Can I Put a Plastic Shower Curtain in the Dryer?

You should definitely not put your shower curtain in a dryer. The hot conditions of a dryer can melt your curtain. 

To dry your curtain after a wash, hang it under a shade. A clothesline or shower rod will suffice. Just make sure it is not in direct sunlight. If in a hurry, you can use a blow dryer on a low setting. The rule of thumb is to avoid direct heat.

Your plastic shower curtain can last up to a year with regular cleaning. While you can machine wash most curtains, remember to use warm and gentle settings. Air drying after the wash is not recommended as a dryer will melt your plastic curtain.

To Conclude

The plastic shower curtain you've been meaning to toss out might really just need cleaning. Even if due for a replacement, rather than add to the growing amount of nondegradable waste, consider repurposing your curtain.