Shower Curtain: PVC Vs. Polyester

A shower curtain liner is a must-have for every home, and it's both a functional and a personal choice. The two most popular material choices have both advantages and disadvantages. Durability, cleanliness and appearance are just a few of the considerations to take into account when choosing a shower curtain for your bathroom.

Choose a shower curtain liner that works for you.


Shower curtains come in two types: fabric and plastic. Depending on the decor of your bathroom, you should choose the type of curtain that blends best with the style of your home and the colors of your bathroom. Generally, if the outer shower curtain is plastic, the liner will also be plastic. An outer curtain made of fabric can be paired with either a plastic or a cloth liner.


Cloth shower curtains are a costlier option, though in some cases they're also longer lasting. Made of washable polyester or cotton in most cases, cloth shower curtains are also often sold as "mildew-proof," meaning they won't collect mold from tubs that are slow to drain. Cloth shower curtain liners generally come in white or cream, while outer curtains can be any number of colors, textures and patterns. Cloth liners can attach to an outer liner in a number of ways—with button holes and buttons, cut holes finished with thread edges or holes reinforced with metal rivets.


Heavy-duty plastic PVC shower curtain liners are both long-lasting and unobtrusive. PVC curtains are generally clear; they go well with an outer curtain that has clear portions or for bathrooms in which you prefer a more "invisible" look. Some people prefer plastic because it's affordable to replace; keeping it clean is simple with either regular cleaning or an in-shower spray cleaner. PVC curtains generally attach to the shower rod with cut holes, though for a few extra dollars consumers can get a PVC liner with longer-lasting, reinforced rivets.


The main benefit of using a shower curtain liner—whether plastic or cloth—is to keep shower water contained. Some people believe PVC shower curtains do a better job of this because they are heavier and nonporous. Many cloth and lighter-weight plastic liners come with magnets sewn in the bottom of the liner, which help keep water in and drafts out. For many people, a machine-washable cloth shower curtain is easier to maintain and clean without having to regularly replace the liner.


Advocates of green living discourage consumers from using PVC shower curtain liners. Chemicals used to soften the plastic in PVC shower curtains could be harmful to the air quality in the bathroom, according to an article on the "Daily Green." Some new options on the market claim to be both greener and healthier options: PEVA, or polyethylene vinyl acetate, is a new type of plastic being used as a replacement for traditional PVC. It lacks the chlorine that is present in regular PVC, which is also the source of the strong odor that comes from new PVC curtains. Polyester, a synthetic fabric, also faces criticism. Greener cloth options include organic cotton, hemp and linen, though all come with a larger price tag attached.