The Easy, Nontoxic Way to Clean a Fabric Shower Curtain Liner
Fabric shower curtain liners get stained easily but usually don’t wash well. Use this one simple trick to freshen up your fabric shower curtain liner anytime it becomes stained with soap, mildew, bath products, or hard water.
You know that awesome feeling of admiring a clean bathroom that sparkles with natural freshness? There’s such a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction that goes with it.
Spotless mirrors and surfaces. Bright white porcelain. A stain-free toilet bowl. Bathroom bliss.
Tell me I’m not the only one who adores a clean bathroom this much.
Bet then there’s that rascally shower curtain liner. It does an important job, keeping water, soap, shampoo, and conditioner from splashing on to your floor. Without it, the bathroom would be a mess.
But sometimes the shower curtain liner is a really a mess of its own.
It can get scummy from those bath and shower products. Hard water can leave mineral stains. Instead of being bright white, it gets dingy with hints of orange-y yuck. And perhaps, when it’s really seen better days, you notice a bit of mildew along the bottom.
Not that any of us busy mommas could neglect our dearest fabric shower curtain liners like that. Ahem.
But just throwing it in the washing machine doesn’t get it clean. The stains might fade, but if you really want to clean a fabric shower curtain liner, you need to give it a little more TLC. And I have just the (easy) way to do that!
When you make the effort to clean your bathroom naturally and without any toxic cleaning products (or have your children do it like my subscribers do… win!), you might be left with quite the conundrum when it comes to a fabric shower curtain liner.
These fabric liners don’t off-gas like plastic and PVC versions, which is great. But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit they can be a pain to clean, which isn’t so great.
Momma friend, you and I both know that discovering the super ninja secrets of perfectly clean shower curtain liners wasn’t on your agenda today. You just want an easy way to get it spruced up without yucky chemicals so that you don’t have to buy a new liner every few months or live with a lingering wonder about what might be growing on the one you have now.
Be puzzled no longer. The answer is quite simple!
Disclosure: Affiliate links are included. Your cost never increases while I can earn a commission should you purchase. Thanks!
The Easy Formula for a Clean Fabric Shower Curtain Liner
Powdered oxygen bleach, hot water, and a good soak is all it really needs.
Powdered oxygen bleach, the only super ninja secret you need here, may be best known by the brand name Oxiclean, but there are other options from Bio Kleen, Charlie’s Soap, Molly’s Suds, and more. You can even find budget-friendly generic brands in some stores.
It’s a safe, nontoxic way to deodorize, remove stains, and brighten both whites and colored fabrics. And yes, it will brighten and clean your fabric shower curtain liner, too!
For years I kept a naturally clean home without using powdered oxygen bleach, but I have yet to find anything that works so well for stains and scummy shower curtain liners. I’m never without it now!
The process is as easy as the formula, so you’ll be enjoying your clean fabric shower curtain liner in no time.
First, you start with a neglected, stained fabric shower curtain liner. That’s mine above. It had quite the orange tint at the bottom and was splotched with soap, shampoo, and conditioner residue. It actually looks much nicer in the photo than it did in real life before I treated it.
Next, get your powdered oxygen bleach and add a scoop (about 1/4-1/2 cup) to a very large bowl that’s big enough for your shower curtain liner to fit in completely. Dissolve the powder into about 1 gallon of very hot water. If your bowl is really big and you can add another gallon of hot water, just add a second scoop of oxygen bleach.
Put your shower curtain liner in the water with the bottom hem going in first. The bottom of the liner will have the worst stains, so you want to be sure it gets the most contact with the hot water and oxygen bleach. Let it soak for 3 or more hours. Overnight is fine.
You can also soak your shower curtain liner in your washing machine if it allows. Our washing machine doesn’t put out very hot water, though, so I use the bowl method.
After it has soaked for a while, agitate it in the bowl and take a look at that water. Ewww! When ours has been really neglected, the water even has a scummy smell to it.
At this point, you can either get ready to wash it if one oxygen bleach treatment did the trick, or drain this water off and start a new soak. I like to soak our liner twice because (confession time) I just don’t deep clean it as often as it needs. After a second soak, it’s time to wash it in the washing machine.
To wash it, follow the instructions on the tag. I clean ours on gentle with a free and clear laundry detergent (never homemade laundry detergent!) and another scoop of oxygen bleach for good measure.
Once it’s washed, you can either hang it up in the shower to dry or hang it up outside on a sunny day to reduce any remaining stains. When ours is really bad, I like to give it at least some time in the sun.
After all that, you should have a much cleaner fabric shower curtain liner! It is entirely possible that it won’t end up being as bright as the day you bought it, but there will be a dramatic difference.
After its last cleaning, ours kept a slightly orange tint right in its bottom middle section, despite lots of soaking and sunning. This is likely because I hadn’t given it a good cleaning in a year. Yep, sometimes I feel like I can’t keep up, too.
But if you do this monthly (or perhaps more realistically, every few months), you’ll probably only need to soak your liner once before washing and it will likely stay quite stain-free. Best of all, you can keep it that way without any of the nasty chemicals you want to avoid.
What is free and clear laundry detergent?
That’s the kind that doesn’t have dyes and fragrances.
You saved my shower curtain’s life! Thank you for this easy and safe solution. I OxyClean everything now! It’s a great product for laundry stripping dingy whites and sheets that look and smell like a dog used them. Thanks again for this suggestion that I found to be very empowering because I was ready to admit defeat and throw these things out.
I’m glad this helped! I love simple solutions that don’t require lots of yucky chemicals.
Found you via Google after desperately trying everything to get my liners clean! Bleach, vinegar, peroxide, you name it: I tried it. Didn’t work, or at least not entirely. This method did!! I just used my biggest pot and soaked the bottom section of the liner (where the discoloration was). I did it twice for good measure. I can’t believe how well it worked! Thank you!!
I’m so glad this worked for you!
Glad this was helpful!
This is so useful, Kristen! I get comments sometimes on this subject and I’m never of any help because I have a unique living situation where I share showers and they’re cleaned by a community cleaning person. Can I share these tips in an upcoming blog post with my readers and backlink to you? 🙂 My blog is about sustainable living and travel: https://writingfromnowhere.com/
Hi Kayla! I’m glad you found this helpful. You’re welcome to link to this post with a summary of the tips here. 🙂 Sharing the whole post to your site wouldn’t work, though. Thanks for commenting!
I giggled when I read in the comments about the “orange crusted beast”. I know that beast well! I don’t like using any strong cleaners as the ammonia or bleach based cleaners seem to make me cough. I’m excited to try the soak in oxiclean you recommended. I usually just use a small squirt of dish liquid and a good scrub brush to clean my toilets and also use the dish liquid and a scrubber to clean the tub. I asked for the new Dremmel scrubber for Christmas and that saves me a lot of elbow grease in the scrubbing department.
I hope this works well for you! A Dremmel scrubber sounds like a pretty powerful cleaning tool to have by your side.
Aloha and Mahalo for sharing this!
I have struggled to keep my liner from the little moldy dots that form ALL TOO QUICKLY in my neck of Hawai’i where it can be very humid. I just did a quick soak with the oxyclean , detergent and vinegar; however it never gets the stains out and I absolutely can’t stand when the curtain is stained !
Excited to try this method!
Thank you again!
I hope it helps! I can imagine the scenery makes up for the quickly dotted shower curtains, though, right? 😉
Just yesterday I decided to tackle the orange crusted beast of a white fabric shower curtain. I’ve machine washed previously with less than spectacular results so was trying to think of something else.. I started off with a foaming bath cleanser (not so environmentally friendly I know) along the bottom hem but it didn’t work very well. My next trick was to leave the curtain hanging and allow the bottom hem of the curtain to puddle in a 2 gallon bucked filled with hot water and a scoop of oxygenated powder.. After about an hour of soaking, I slid the curtain (plastic rings and all ) off the rod and into the bucket for about another hour.’s soak. After soaking, I swished it around well, rinsed it off, rehung and wrung lightly and allowed to dry in place. It looked almost new this morning after drying completely.
I think I’m going to include the shower curtain cleaning on a more regular basis, maybe coincide it with quarterly mattress flip/rotation schedule so. Hopefully I’ll remember to soak it every quarter at least, and 2 x/year it will go to the laundromat with mattress protector, box spring cover & down pillows.
“The orange crusted beast” made me laugh! I’m glad this little cleaning trick helped you. I don’t do it nearly enough but am always amazed at the difference when I do.
How many tablespoons is ”a scoop” of oxygen bleach? Thx!
Hi Marcia. It’s around 2-3 tablespoons. I hope that helps!
Just adding my experience. I have a recycled (made from pop bottles) polyester shower curtain and liner, and the liner was pretty bad, especially because I also color my hair. I was considering a vinegar/citric acid soak, but decided to try this method first. I used 1 gallon boiling water and 1 cup powdered generic oxyclean in a 5 gallon bucket, and put the worst part in first. Soaked for about 3 hours. I didn’t a huge difference, so I figured it would need a second round. SO needed a shower though, so first he took his shower, then while I was boiling water for round 2, I decided to do the acid soak. Whelp, 10 minutes in hot tap water, and nearly ALL of the yucky orange residue and stains were GONE. So just an idea: maybe try the acid (vinegar/citric acid) soak first, then with all the hard mineral deposits loosened up and gone, the rest of the stains might come off easier with the oxyclean. I’m going to try to be better about washing the liner at least every couple weeks , maybe always doing a vinegar in the rinse cycle will keep things under control.
Thanks for sharing, Ginny! I haven’t looked at shower curtains and liners recently and didn’t even know there were some available made from plastic bottles. Interesting!
Feedback: The article doesn’t state that the instructions are specifically for a white liner, and doesn’t offer instructions for colored liners.
Hello Lee. I’m sorry that you find the article incomplete. White liners are more prone to staining and are particularly difficult to clean. That’s why the article focuses on white liners and features a white liner in all of the photos. You can use powdered oxygen bleach on colored liners, but it’s always a good idea to do a patch test in the corner in case your liner isn’t very color-fast. The color will be less likely to fade if you don’t use hot water, as well, but that might effect how well the oxygen bleach lifts the stains. Best wishes.
I use Sun Products oxy bleach from the Dollar Tree plus Dawn to soak my husband and children’s socks (5 girls). We are outside a lot and mostly working in the yard and garden so everyone’s socks get pretty dirty. I fill a 2.5 gallon bucket with hot water 3/4 of the way, add a scoop of oxy bleach, and a tablespoon of Dawn 2X (blue), and then soak over night. The next day when I am washing bath towels or cleaning cloths I pour the bucket of socks into the wash and wash as usual. Most of the time our socks come out very clean.
Thanks for sharing! Sounds like a great formula. And I’m so glad you mentioned that Sun oxygen bleach is available at Dollar Tree! My Walmart used to carry it, but stopped, and I loved the price and lack of fragrances. I’ll have to look there for it!
None of the above will work. Method that works : Boiling water, oxygenated stain remover powder, a 5 gal bucket with lid and a pounding tool anything that you can pound vertically down into the bucket with, it should have a wide flat surface at the bottom and a hanle 2+ feet long, i used a very sturdy car tire brush. You will not brush you will pound up and down.
– put half a cup of oxygen stain remover poweder in the bucket, boil 3/4 of a middle sized saucepan of water (don’t use too much or you will splash) and pour the boiling water directly into the bucket. Take the dismounted shower curtain into your hand, hold it from the highest side and lower its bottom side first into the bucket. let 1/5 of the curtain top side hang outside the bucket (usually metallic rings). This will allow you to turn it around.
– pound the curtain in the mixture for 5 min. cover with lid, let sit 20 min and pound 5 min more.
– boil more water and add it, pound 5 min more, let sit 20 min, pound then take it out and machine wash on the gentle wash with an old jean to protect the curtain.
– my curtain came out absolutely spotless as new and that was a curtain with a lot of accumulated mold on it some of 1/2 inch mold charcoal black spots for months. Unbelievable.
Note: tried vinegar first or cold oxygen stain remover, does not work, you gotta boil that water.
-a catholic christian.
Hi Randy. Thanks for sharing another method. I used hot/warm tap water when I cleaned mine, not boiling, and it did work as well as I said it did. But different types of water and staining could give variable results with the method I used. Your method sounds pretty intense, so I can imagine that your shower curtain got quite clean!
Just get IRON OUT….they sell in every grocery
Iron Out can be an option to consider for really stubborn rust stains, but it does pose some health hazards that powdered oxygen bleach doesn’t. Those who want to reduce their exposure to strong chemicals might prefer to find a more gentle solution, which is why I wanted to share this option. 🙂
I am going to try the laundry detergent and baking soda first .
See if this works. 1/2 cup of each. Plus someone said a few drops of tree oil.
Hi Susan! Did you try your detergent, baking soda, and tea tree oil experiment? I’d be interested to hear how it turned out. 🙂 I don’t know of any cleaning powers for tea tree oil from my years learning herbs and essential oils, though it is great at disinfecting. If you haven’t tried it yet, you can probably skip the tea tree oil without any change in results.
I read your post and I think it’s a really great tip! So i also have a fabric shower liner that I got from JCP a few years ago. It’s a light blue one. Would this method ruin the color of the shower curtain liner since it’s not white. Thank you.
Hi Jenna! Typically a powdered oxygen cleaner like Oxyclean or a generic version is color safe. It might be smart to do a patch test, though, just to be extra sure. I hope it works for you!
I use a bar of Fels-Naptha soap and scrub, scrub ,scrub. Then rinse and set it out in the sun to dry. The liner looks like new. Takes a bit of muscle power and time—but the results are worth it. The liner looked bright white and almost new.
Thanks for adding that tip, Anne!
Agree with Anne. The Fels Naptha bar is all you need! I wetted and scrubbed the hem of the white shower curtain fabric liner with the suds using a soft nail brush from IKEA. Just a soft scrubbing is required and you could see the orange residue in the water. Then I laundered it with some towels.
Glad that worked for you, Terri. It’s nice to have other options to try. 🙂
Great idea for the shower curtain! I get my Oxy at the dollar store and it works as well as the more expensive brands – it’s the same stuff. I use it for so many things, from delicate linens to stained tablecloths.
I didn’t know the Dollar Store has oxygen bleach! That’s a great tip. Thanks for sharing!
This post was the top Google result for “remove orange stains from shower curtain”.
I tried this method and it worked great! When washing the shower curtain in the washing machine, I added a scoop of powdered oxygen booster, in addition to using a small amount of laundry detergent.
Glad it worked well for you, Nicholas! Amazing what that one product can do for a shower curtain, isn’t it?
I have used Biz for stains for years. I don’t know if it’s an oxygen type cleaner, but I have soaked baby clothes (when I still had babies!), grass stained pants, and many other stained items, as well as shower curtains in a bucket or tub of Biz solution. I always have excellent results.
Thanks for sharing your tip, Robin! I’ve never used Biz and don’t know a thing about it, but it sounds like it’s been a great solution for you. 🙂
I always put my liner in the washing machine with bleach. Comes clean perfectly! I buy the dollar store ones so I can change then regularly. Now If only I didn’t have glass dooors lol!!
Ooo, those glass door are tricky!
Personally, I don’t care for that type of shower liner. I use plastic liner, toss it in with a load of towels [adds to the friction] with that oxy [wal*mart works just as well as the more expensive stuff] and regular laundry detergent [name your poison].
It’s about the only place in the bathroom that I don’t use tea tree oil once a week to ensure fresh and clean.
I switched to fabric a few years ago after reading some of the harmful chemicals that off-gas from the PVC. I don’t mind the fabric one bit myself, but that’s me. I also use the more generic form of Oxy-Clean from Wal-Mart. A friend tipped me off to it and I’m so glad she did! 🙂
I love our fabric shower curtain but I’ve been battling the same yuck for a while now. I do what you did, expect I soak it in my washing machine with the water set to low. I use the agitator for about 5 minutes then I open the lid and let it sit. I do this over and over until I’m happy with the result.
That’s a smart tip to do it right in the washing machine! I’ve started doing that with stained clothes and it does work well. Thank you for sharing!
I keep a 5 gallon bucket on my washing machine for soaking with oxy powder and for really bad stains, I’ve been known to leave them soak for days until I get back to them. I swirl it around occasionally. I’ve gotten some really old, deep-set, baby stains out when they appeared after storage this way.
Good to know, Bonnie! I’m almost embarrassed that I’m just now discovering what this stuff can do. And to think I spent hours watching Oxyclean infomercials on Saturday mornings years ago…
Any suggestions on getting the moldy/mildew off the bottom? I had family and friends here for a week and just the added number of showers that week caused it. I’ve tried everything I can think of…about ready to lop off the bottom that hangs to the tub floor and re-hem it at a shorter length…
No fun, Sarah! Try this method and add some tea tree or lemon essential oil to the soak. Maybe five drops or so. As long as your curtain is fabric and not plastic, I think it would help. I’ve never tried it, though! Line drying in the sun should help, too. The sun does wonders!
You said in your post that you had no problem getting the black mold off. How did you do it?
Hi Lindsay! I found that the mold stayed off just from regular washing, spraying with the vinegar and essential oil spray I use, and keeping it spread out after showering so it could dry. However, I will note that I’ve been a bit slack on washing it, and I’ve started seeing tiny mold spots at the bottom. Time to treat it again!
I really want to try this! Thanks for sharing! 🙂
You’re welcome! It’s one of my new favorite cleaning tricks!
Your so helpful – thanks. I don’t have the washing powder you suggested but I got to thinking about what I did have on hand (which I rarely use — but have heard great things about) and that’s Borax. I used it on a mug that my husband drank tea out of that was so stained — and it had been cleaned in the dishwasher with no change in the appearance. So I threw some Borax in and wa-la it worked like a charm. Like new mug. So I will try that first. Thanks.
Thank you, Renee!
I can’t remember if I soaked the curtain in Borax or not. I don’t think I did. I tried throwing some in with the wash and it didn’t help much, but maybe pretreating with it will help. Let me know what you find out!
i am wondering if it has to be oxy clean or if the off brands work just the same / may be better??
I used the more inexpensive variety at Walmart, not Oxy Clean, so I think yes! I haven’t compared the two, though. I just compared the prices. 😉
i’m gonna try this! I try to wash my room shower curtain liners frequently anyway, but they still get that lite orange color along the bottom! thanks for the tip!
You’re welcome. I hope it does the trick!
Good tip! I’m gonna note it down and try it!
I hope it works for you like it did for me!
My shower curtain is plastic saying it was safe that I bought at Kohls saying no problems. But I used to bleach my shower plastic curtains and it worked for years. Now it doesn’t. I have one question. Couldn’t I just let it soak in my tub rather than in a bucket with the SUN brand my husband buys from the dollar store. What about Mrs. Stewart’s liquid bluing do you know anything about that?
Hi Marie! Yes, you can soak the shower curtain in the tub if you’d rather. No problem there. Sometimes I do it in my washing machine overnight, too. Bluing will help offset any stubborn yellow tint, too. I’ve never used it or purchased it, but scanning through the Mrs. Stewart’s brand website makes it look like a promising option to consider for getting a bright white. If you use it sometime, I’d love to hear about your experience!
you may want to mention in the post how much oxiclean a “scoop” is . I used a full scoop measure that comes with the oxiclean which I would say is about 1 C. That was probably overkill. Especially since I had I a big bucket and put 2 gallons of water in it wuth 2 scoops of oxiclean. oops.
Ah, you’re SO right, Debbie! Thank you for bringing that to my attention. The scoop that came in my bucket was about 1/4 cup. They must include a bigger scoop now! Thanks again. 🙂