Shower Curtains

O.K., I know this is not “House Hold Hints” or Good House Keeping are the like, but I am at my wits end with this: How do you get soap scum off a plastic shower curtain? I have tried rubbing it down with vinegar and washing it in the clothes washer but nothing seems to work! Its not that I’m to cheap to buy a new one, its just a waste if it can be cleaned. And I can’t install one of those sliding glass shower doors because I live in an apartment. The curtain is getting kinda gross. So, oh wise ones, any ideas?

This might help, Wyvern. Cool user name, by the way.

From 2001 Hints For Hassle-Free Living by Barbara Briddock (don’t know if this is available in the US.)

"To wash a shower curtain, soak it in a tub of soapy water and work a bottle brush through the hem. This will remove soap and dirt and keep it fresh. Hang the shower curtain up sideways on the line so that the water can run out of the hem.

“To remove mildew from a shower curtain: (a) rub baking soda on to the curtain and then wash it, or (b) rub lemon juice over it and let it dry in the sun.”


I think, that the “Soap Scum” that so occludes your outlook is composed of fat (old soap) and scale (minerals from hard water). Your basic (actually I believe it’s acid) mineral remover, “Lime Away” and others, would work on the scale, except that it’s protected with a layer of fat. A “Tub and Tile Cleaner” will remove some of the old soap, but it can’t get by the minerals. It will take multiple alternating applications of either product to do the job, and do not ever let the products meet, they combine to produce (I believe) chlorine gas–painful if not deadly.

It does seem a waste to toss the old rag out, but it might be more harmful to the environment to add the cleaning chemicals to the waste stream. Consider replacing it with a new curtain. You could buy a super cheap, clear liner to protect your fancy new curtain, which you can just toss after it gets unsightly.

We just throw it in the washing machine, usually works like a charm. If it doesn’t, then you can get a new one.

both of the two substances that cause that nasty build up are long greasy hydrocarbon chains… hydrochloric acid will break them down nicely… (as will hydrobromic and hydrofluoric, but don’t get near those)

and although hydrochloric acid is pretty safe stuff, don’t mix it with any amonia based product or you get chlorine gas and you might get a slight case of death…

so just splash it with ‘red devil’ toilet bowl cleaner liquid, let it sit for a while, and then use the shower head to wash it all down the drain (and your drain will probably run a little faster too)… ofcourse I can’t promise that your shower curtain will survive this, but the soap-scum certainly will go away… :(-~

another caveate, keep the bathroom fan on while the curtain is soaking… stinking and unhealthy stuff

<formal legal disclaimer> don’t do this unless you know what you’re doing and have taken a few organic chem classes </formal legal disclaimer>

Bleach plus hydrochloric acid causes trouble, and bleach plus ammonia creates toxic chloramine gas, but hydrochloric acid plus ammonia just creats ammonium chloride, a relatively non-toxic solid. Haven’t you ever seen the experiment where you put a solution of ammonium hydroxide next to a solution of hydrochloric acid and it makes smoke? That smoke is solid ammonium chloride.


All that just to clean off soap scum? Wyvern, before you may blow something up – how about checking with the retailer or manufacturer? Quickly?

Just spray on some no-scrub product like Tilex Soap Scum remover.
It’s just that simple folks. :wink:

i just throw out the shower curtains every couple years.
a trip to home depot gets you new shower curtains for about
10 bucks. no sense getting all worked up about dirty shower curtains when you can spend a 10-spot and get brand new ones :slight_smile:

I live in Paris and we get this all the time as a result of the calcium in the water. It just seems to be a thin white crust that is baked on - no amount of scrubbing cleans it off. EXCEPT, they have some decalcifiers on the market for just this sort of thing - works like magic. Maybe they have a similar product to that in the States?

I put mine in the washer. If it is white I soak it in bleach water for a little bit. If it is not white I soak it in laundry soap water.

I have vary hard water an my curtin is nasty after about 2 months.