Your shower curtain keeps your bathroom dry day after day, but all that moisture can cause mildew, mold and soap scum to develop. Many fabric shower curtains can go in the washing machine for a quick cleaning, but some materials like plastic or vinyl are best washed by hand. Washing the curtain right in the tub with vinegar or bleach makes the job easy.
Prep the Curtain
Taking the curtain off the rod makes it easier to soak and scrub. Slip the shower curtain off the rings holding it to the rod. Most types of rings snap open easily from the bottom. If you would like to clean the rings, too, remove them along with the shower curtain. The rings can collect dust and grime over time, so it doesn't hurt tossing them in with the curtain.
Fill the Tub
Warm water combined with a gentle cleaner helps remove the gunk from the curtain. Skip ammonia or any cleaners that contain ammonia when cleaning vinyl, as it can be corrosive. Vinegar works well to remove soap scum. If your curtain has mildew or mold on it, you may need bleach to get it clean. Only use bleach on a curtain that won't fade.
Fill the bathtub with very warm water, and add two tablespoons of laundry detergent. Add either one cup of vinegar or bleach to the water, and allow the flowing water to mix it up. Turn off the water when the tub is about one-half to three-fourths full.
Clean and Rinse the Curtain
Soaking the curtain helps loosen the soap scum and other gunk. Add the shower curtain and rings to the tub. Make sure the entire curtain gets wet. The bottom edge usually has the most scum on it, so keep that area submerged. Soak everything for 20 minutes.
Even with soaking, the curtain may still have spots on it. Use a sponge to wipe any areas that haven't come clean after soaking. You can also spot clean by adding vinegar or bleach to the sponge and rubbing it on the stained area.
Once you clean off the curtain, drain the dirty water from the tub. Refill it with cold water, and swirl the curtain around to rinse away any soap or bleach. You can also use the sprayer in the shower to rinse off the curtain. If you use bleach, it may require a second rinse. Drain the tub again.
Let It Dry
Fully drying the curtain is an important part of preventing more mold and mildew. Remove the rings from the bathtub and set them aside to dry. Press or squeeze the shower curtain to remove excess water. Put the rings back on the rod, so you can hang the shower curtain to dry. Spread out the rings to stretch the shower curtain out. This helps it dry faster than it does if it's bunched up in one area. Make sure the bathroom is well-ventilated to help it dry faster. When drying the shower curtain, make sure the bottom edge is inside the tub to avoid dripping water onto the floor.
Melissa Rae has been a writer since 2008, specializing in home-and-garden, business, technology and education topics. Rae holds a Bachelor of Science in business administration from Herzing University.