Got moldy shower curtain? Put away the bleach and let me show you how to clean a moldy shower curtain without bleach!
Does your shower curtain get moldy like mine? Am I the only lazy slouch who waits until it looks disgusting and then try frantically to make it clean again? Granted it's made of nylon, not PVC vinyl so I don't have to worry about pthalates or other toxins but mold is just as dangerous, according to CDC. And so is bleach that most people use to get rid of mold in the bathroom. But you know bleach doesn't kill mold, right? Did you read my "Front Loading Washer Maintenance" post where I talk about killing mold in my washing machine without bleach?
Yea. Mold is not good.
How does my mom prevent a moldy bathroom?
Just like the washing machine, dampness and warmth make a perfect breeding ground for mold in a bathroom, no matter how powerful the vent is. When the wet curtain gets stuck to the wet bathtub wall for hours until it's dried, it's an open brothel season for molds.
And how about those dank corners where the tiled wall meets the bathtub. The ugly pink and sometimes black mold (EEEK!) sets in if you don't dry it regularly. But honestly, who has the time to wipe the walls down to dry the tiles after rushing in for a quick 5 minute shower?
Except, of course, my mom.
My mom boasts that's exactly what she does - wipe down the tiles and sides of the bathtub after showering - to prevent mold from the grout, bathtub and shower stalls. And she strongly suggests I do it too, every time I take a shower to prevent mold. She also recommended cutting off the seam at the bottom of the shower curtain to prevent water getting collected there.
So, like a good little daughter, I cut off the bottom hem of my curtain annnnnd .... I think she is right. It does take a bit longer before I start seeing the yuck on the shower curtain hem. I take no responsibility if you decide to chop off the ends of your shower curtain and the it starts to unravel.
But wiping down the walls every time? Not so easy to do. But I try.
So when I get lazy and don't wash the curtain, and it looks like this - yes, you can judge me - I get to work to battle the mold.
And after frustratingly trying all different kinds of solutions to wash and kill mold naturally, without bleach, I think I succeeded in coming up with a formula that's non-toxic and effective.
So gather all the shower curtains in your house and let's kill those scumbags (the original definition really does come from the bathroom) and molds.
How to Clean A Moldy Shower Curtain Without Bleach
1 tablespoon Your favorite laundry detergent - plant based, non-toxic, of course
1 tablespoon Washing Soda
1 tablespoon Baking Soda
½ Cup of Hydrogen Peroxide
White Distilled Vinegar for Rinse Compartment in the Washing Machine
about 5 gallon of HOT water in a bucket
Mix the ingredients in the bucket and add HOT HOT water. Mix well until the solids are dissolved. Add your curtain, end part first, to the bucket and carefully submerge the entire curtain. Make sure the moldy part is completely submerged. Go out and have a delicious lunch with your girlfriends, get a mani-pedi, clean the rest of the house, take a nap. Or whatever.
Depending how bad the damage it is, after soaking the curtain for about 2 hours, it should be visually clean. Take the hem and rub the ends together with your hands vigorously. And if you still see mold, soak it longer. When you don't see mold, dump the solution from the bucket, rinse with HOT water once.
Then, wash the curtain in the washing machine with NEW detergent in HOT water setting with white distilled vinegar in the rinse compartment.
Line dry in hot sun, if you can. That would be the BEST drying method since sunlight kills mold. But if you can't, dry it in the dryer, in HOT temperature setting for about 10 minutes.
Hang it in the bathroom and enjoy your clean, mold free, bleach-free shower curtain...for a while, at least.
And next time, I promise to wash the shower curtain before it gets moldy.
Ok, I'll try.
The Expert Cleaner says
These are my favourite trics -
When machine washing a shower curtain, try adding a towel or two to the wash to help dislodge dirt.
Keep in mind that you need to avoid adding fabric softener to your wash as this could damage the plastic.
An old toothbrush is a handy for scrubbing hard-to-remove stains.
Dr. Lee, you crack me up because if I didn't know better, I'd think I wrote your article. I have the same type of mom; telling me what to do, and I have good "intentions" to clean the curtain weekly, especially after taking half a day to clean the shower curtain. So, the first week, I make sure to keep both ends of the shower curtain open to air and things seem to be on the right track but I also have two adult children still at home and they don't care about the care of a shower curtain and crazy busyness pass and low and behold there I stand with "THE MOLDY SHOWER CURTAIN"! Where did the time go? It was just last week when I cleaned it last...wasn't it????
Before I wrote here, I got a big pasta pot and put the ingredients in (except "washing soda" because I never heard of it before but did Google it so will get some another time and I used used baking soda that I used to freshen the fridge smells because that's all that's left in the house); I decided to put it on the stove to BOIL the water since you wanted it hot. Yeah, I left the room and was on the computer and went back into the kitchen to turn off the burner and it had boiled half over all over the stove top, down the oven door and a puddle on the floor! Well, at least I found where I could write you let you know, you made me laugh but thankful also for your "recipe". It's still bathing on the stove so I don't know how it's working yet.
Dr. Karen says
Oh my. I'm laughing so much right now. Thx for sharing your story Debbie. I didn't mean to make you 'boil' your curtain! You could have boiled the water and used it in a bucket to soak it in the bathtub! Hope you took it off the stove by now. You really need the washing soda to work but I'm waiting to see how it turned out for you without it. There should be a link in the post to buy the washing soda if your grocery store doesn't carry it. Thx for the laugh this morning.
Shower curtains can get surprisingly gross. It is surprising that some people use them for a long as they do, without cleaning, or replacing them. It does look like they get dirty on the bottom. But, if more people realized that the dirty look on the bottom was actually mold, I'm sure they would change them out a lot more frequently. No one wants to take a shower with mold. http://www.professionalglass.com.au/screens-mirrors
@Nancy Rowe eeek, running the vent for that long seems too long. But maybe I have to leave the bathroom window opened afterwards...
Nancy Rowe says
Mine takes quite a bit longer than a week to get to that point. Maybe you need a better fan in your bathroom. And we let our fan run for a good 20-30 minutes after we're done our showers too (our builder recommended that because the house is new and so there isn't much in the way of heat/humidity loss - we also run a dehumidifier in our basement all the time for the same reason)
I used to use it before I learned the dangers of bleach. 🙁 And there are still people out there who don't know.
Stephanie Moram says
ugh. Bleach. vomit. WHy do people still use that stuff? This way is so much healthier you and the environment!
Jennifer Wood says
I wash several towels with my shower curtain to help with the scrubbing.
How often do you wash it? I can't go one week without seeing those ugly moldy colors. You should see how they look in the post. It's disgusting. That won't come out without my intervention. Blech.
Nancy Rowe says
I wash mine as well but I also toss mine in the dryer for a few minutes with towels... Gets the excess water out and relaxes the wrinkles.
does it get the mold out? Mine doesn't unless I attack it with my hands! lol...
Jennifer Wood says
I clean my shower curtain in the washing machine with laundry detergent and then let it air dry in the bathroom with the door open.