Eliminate streaks, product buildup, and mold for good.

By Nashia Baker
Updated June 04, 2020
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Getting your bathroom clean probably holds a top spot on your weekly home maintenance to-do list. While you're probably cleaning the toilet, washing out the sink, and scrubbing the tub with regularity, there's one bathroom detail that's frequently overlooked: the shower curtain liner. The problem is, a lack of maintenance can quickly take a toll on this shower essential. Keeping it streak-, mold-, and buildup-free is integral to maintaining a clean bathroom environment, and doing so requires the correct products and technique. Here, our experts share how to keep yours looking its best.

Choose Your Cleaning Method

There are several ways to rid your shower curtain liner of mold, mildew, or soap scum. Whether you toss it in the washing machine or scrub it by hand, getting it clean doesn't have to be a hassle. The former approach requires just three steps and involves cleaning products you already have at home, says Mary Gagliardi, Clorox's in-house scientist and cleaning expert. Begin by removing the plastic liner from the rod. Next, add your usual amount of laundry detergent and 1/3 cup of bleach, like Clorox Disinfecting Bleach ($4.49, target.com), in hot water on the gentle washing cycle. After you finish the load, hang the liner and let it air dry.

Taking the hand-wash route? Mix up a cleaning paste and apply it while you're taking a shower, green cleaning expert Becky Rapinchuk advises. Mix baking soda—Rapinchuk recommends Arm & Hammer's ($9.62, walmart.com)—with one teaspoon of dish soap and enough water to form a paste, then apply it directly onto the liner. "Wet the shower curtain and, using a scrub brush or a sponge, apply the thin paste to the interior," she says. "Scrub in a circular motion, rinse thoroughly, and allow it to air dry."

Create a Cleaning Schedule

General upkeep is essential when it comes to maintaining your liner, so creating a cleaning schedule you'll stick with is so important. "Washing a shower curtain liner once a month is an important part of keeping your whole bathroom clean," Gagliardi notes. "The liner (or the curtain if you have one that is waterproof) is basically the fourth wall of your shower, and the shower should be cleaned more than once a month, so don't neglect the shower liner or curtain!"

Dousing your liner with water every so often while also letting it air out can help keep it clean in the long run. "Cleaning the shower curtain regularly or rinsing after use is helpful," Rapinchuk says. "Make sure you have proper circulation and ventilation in your bathroom to allow for the shower curtain to dry quickly after each use—and pull it open so it isn't bunched up after baths or showers."

Select the Best Liner

While plastic liners are the most common, you can test out different materials to find the best one for your bathroom. Other types include polyester, polyethylene vinyl acetate, or nylon, says Gagliardi—but Rapinchuk actually prefers fabric varieties. "My preference is a fabric shower curtain liner because they're easy to wash and are a little more mold-resistant," she notes, but all types can be can be laundered in the washing machine. She suggests rinsing them in cool water, along with bath towels or washable floor mats; these extra items will help scrub the liners in the machine. After you wash, dry fabric types on a cool dryer setting to help prevent shrinkage.

All in all, your liner—with effective and consistent cleaning—should last for years, Gagliardi says, adding that even the most mildew-stained liner can technically be saved: "Simply use a little more bleach—one cup of bleach added to two gallons of water—and if necessary, repeat the treatment. Remember to never soak for longer than five minutes before rinsing!"

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