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How To Clean Vinyl Shower Curtains

Vinyl shower curtains and liners can easily build up unsightly soap scum, mildew, mold or other unpleasant stains. It can be tempting to simply dispose of a dirty shower and purchase new one, but if you try these methods you can save money, time, and resources. Using these methods regularly and keeping your bathroom well-ventilated and as dry as possible will help maintain  your vinyl shower curtain. After showering, spread out the shower curtain to the closed position to help it to dry. If you are concerned about trapping moisture on other surfaces of your shower area, allow the shower curtain to remain open for 30 min to an hour before closing.

Do not use ammonia on vinyl as it is corrosive to vinyl. Some commercial spray cleaners such as Windex contain ammonia and are not recommended for vinyl surfaces.

Do not dry your shower curtain in the sun, as it may become brittle.

Mild Dish Soap
Fill a plastic tub or bucket 3/4 full with water and place in a convenient, safe location such as your tub. Add 2 TB of mild dish soap such as Ivory under running water to produce moderate suds. For added conditioning, you can add a capful of baby oil and mix well. Remove your shower curtain from the rings, and submerge in the mild soap/water solution. Take particular care to submerge the bottom edge of curtain  which often has the largest amount of residue. Allow to soak for at least 20 minutes, or up to 3 hours. Remove the shower curtain from the solution and lay it flat in the tub. Pour the soap/water solution over the curtain, and allow to drain. Using a clean sponge dampened with water, wipe the loosened stains from the curtain. Rinse thoroughly, and hang as normal to dry in a well-ventilated bathroom.

For heavily soiled curtains, you can follow the soap/water soak method with the following methods.

Vinegar
Fill a plastic tub or bucket 3/4 full with water and place in a convenient, safe location such as your tub. Add 2  cups of vinegar. You can substitute apple cider vinegar if you dislike the odor of regular vinegar. The color of apple cider vinegar may stain light colored rags and clothing. Remove your shower curtain from the rings, and submerge in the vinegar/water solution. For added conditioning, you can add a capful of baby oil and mix well. Take particular care to submerge the bottom edge of curtain  which often has the largest amount of residue. Allow to soak for at least 20 minutes, or up to 3 hours. Remove the shower curtain from the solution and lay it flat in the tub. Pour the vinegar/water solution over the curtain, and allow to drain. Using a clean sponge dampened with water, wipe the loosened stains from the curtain. Rinse thoroughly, and hang as normal to dry in a well-ventilated bathroom.

For spot cleaning with vinegar, combine equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray problem areas thoroughly and evenly. Wipe and remove residue with a sponge or soft cloth dampened with water. Paper towels may be too abrasive for vinyl and result in visible scratching. Rinse thoroughly and allow to dry. 

For heavily soiled curtains, you can follow the water/vinegar soak method with the following methods.

Baking soda
Remove your shower curtain from the rings, and place in washing machine with 1/2 cup of baking soda. For added conditioning, you can add a capful of baby oil. Run cycle promptly to avoid staining of cloth-backed vinyls. Run the cycle using warm or cold water and a moderate/delicate agitation setting to help prevent possible tearing and unnecessary wear. When the cycle is complete, hang as normal and allow to dry in a well-ventilated bathroom. If problem areas remain, you can use one of the spot-cleaning methods described in this article. Baking soda is mildly abrasive and should not be used for spot cleaning.

Borax
Remove your shower curtain from the rings, and place in washing machine with 1/2  cup of borax.  For added conditioning, you can add a capful of baby oil. Run the cycle using warm or cold water and a moderate/delicate agitation setting to help prevent possible tearing and unnecessary wear. When the cycle is complete, hang as normal and allow to dry in a well-ventilated bathroom.  If problem areas remain, you can use one of the spot-cleaning methods described in this article. The Borax granules are mildly abrasive and should not be used for spot cleaning.

Citrus-based cleaners
Citrus-based cleaners are effective on vinyl, but are damaging to other types plastics and rubbers that may be found in your bathroom, as seals, coatings, or otherwise. If you choose to use a citrus-based cleaner, remove the shower curtain to a safe area such as a stainless steel or ceramic sink, or use citrus-based cleaners  to spot clean only. Remember to use a soft sponge or cloth rather than paper towels as paper towels can be too abrasive and may result in scratching.

Melamine foam
Melamine foam, commonly available as the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser as well as in generic forms, can be used to spot-clean matte-finish vinyl. Do not use on glossy vinyl as it may damage the surface. To use,  lightly moisten the foam sponge and rub gently on problem areas. Rinse thoroughly to remove melamine foam  and stain residue. hang as normal and allow to dry in a well-ventilated bathroom. This method will effective remove stains and built up residue, but does not have disinfectant or preventative properties.

Tea Tree Oil
To help disinfect your shower curtain and prevent mold and mildew, you can use a diluted tea tree oil spray. Combine 1 cup water, 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol and 1 tsp of tea tree oil in a spray bottle. Shake well to mix ingredients. Mist shower curtain lightly. Allow to dry as normal in a well-ventilated room. To spot clean and disinfect, you can decrease the amount of water, increase the amount of rubbing alcohol and/or increase the amount of tea tree oil.

Rubbing Alcohol
Use rubbing alcohol applied with a cotton ball to spot clean and disinfect. Rub gently in a circular motion to dislodge stains. Rubbing alcohol can be allowed to evaporate without rinsing.

Hydrogen peroxide
Use hydrogen peroxide applied with a cotton ball to spot clean and disinfect. Rub gently in a circular motion to dislodge stains. A solution of hydrogen peroxide can be used for overall cleaning as well, but using Borax involves the same active ingredient, will yield comparable results, and may be more cost effective. Hydrogen peroxide has a light bleaching effect and may bleach even light-colored cloths and clothing (ex: towels, bath mats, cloth shower curtains, etc.)

Toothpaste
Use toothpaste with applied with a clean sponge dampened with water to spot clean. Rub gently in a circular motion to dislodge stains. Rinse thoroughly with water and allow to dry in a well-ventilated bathroom. Test in an inconspicuous area to make sure that the toothpaste will not scratch or otherwise damage the material.

Caution: Do not use ammonia on vinyl floors as it is corrosive to vinyl. Never mix cleaning agents or chemicals, the result can be dangerous or deadly. Before cleaning, always test the agent on an inconspicuous location to determine its suitability and to make certain it does not damage the material. Wear appropriate clothing such as gloves and protective eyewear, and work in a well-ventilated area. Accidental inhalation or ingestion of cleaning agents can be hazardous and even fatal, particularly to pets and children.





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