Me vs. my wife: Shower curtain battle!
March 27, 2009 10:17 AM   Subscribe

Home decor filter: Help me settle a disagreement with my wife regarding fabric shower curtains.

OK, this is entirely silly, but my wife and I have been wrestling with a shower curtain issue. We have a fabric curtain, with a fabric shower curtain liner. I am adamant that the liner should be placed with the finished side facing into the shower. She insists that the finished side should face out, just as the outer curtain does.

She thinks the liner works better facing out, that it is designed in such a way that it sheds water better if the finished side faces the same way as the outer curtain. I feel it looks better facing in (who wants to look at the tag, and the back end of the hems?), and more importantly that which way is out makes no difference in how the curtain performs.

In my mind it's like putting a flat sheet printed-side up - when you fold the blanket back, you're facing the ugly side, not the finished side, which we both agree is wrong. For some reason she won't agree that the shower curtain liner should operate on the same principle.

It started out as a friendly battle of wills, but this morning I noticed she had changed the curtain, so I switched it back. Then I thought about what I had done and realized that this is in danger of becoming a passive-aggressive (yet friendly) obsession with changing the shower curtain to match our personal beliefs. Thus, I turn to you, The Internets, for your help.

So: Finished side facing the tub, or finished side facing the back of the outer curtain? Who is right?
posted by caution live frogs to Home & Garden (37 answers total)
Finished side should face out, so it looks nice in the bathroom. You're showering, what do you care what it looks like inside the shower?
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 10:23 AM on March 27, 2009

you will never win. get a second curtain of the exact same kind so you can have one facing in and one facing out.
posted by sio42 at 10:24 AM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

You are correct. Finished side facing the tub. If anything, it will shed water best this way because the hem won't catch the water, although that is totally picking nits. It will shed water fine in either direction, but it will only look nice facing in.
posted by HotToddy at 10:24 AM on March 27, 2009

How are you guys at thumb wars? A thumb war is the only way to settle such disputes.
In my experience, the shower curtain design is for the benefit of folks who walk into your bathroom, not the folks taking the shower, and the curtain should be hung accordingly. But I'm sure there are people who disagree. Which brings me back to thumb war.
posted by phunniemee at 10:24 AM on March 27, 2009 [3 favorites]

Oh, wait. I was assuming that your inner curtain is on the same set of rings as the outer curtain, so that you never really see it from the outside. If it's not, and you do see it from the outside, then the finished side should face out.
posted by HotToddy at 10:25 AM on March 27, 2009

Since you have an outer curtain I would face the finished side towards the person showering. You can experiment with how each side repels and sheds water by spraying it with a squirt bottle and judging the results together. If both sides really work the same then you can argue aesthetics.
posted by Science! at 10:28 AM on March 27, 2009

My vote is for finished side facing the bathroom. We have a sheer curtain, and the tags/seams would show if we had it the other way. I don't care if I see the tag while I shower.
posted by peep at 10:28 AM on March 27, 2009

The unfinished sides should meet in the middle. To do otherwise would be like putting mayo on the outside surface of one slice of a sandwich.
posted by cairnish at 10:28 AM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

You are right. Exactly the same principle as the top sheet going printed side down. If you have the shower curtain her way, no one ever sees the right side, since it is backed up to the wrong side of nice exterior shower curtain.
posted by sulaine at 10:30 AM on March 27, 2009

Just to correct people before you get the wrong idea: There's a curtain, and then inside that (on the same set of hooks) is the liner. The curtain obviously faces the bathroom. The liner is the sticking point. (Sorry if there was any confusion.)
posted by caution live frogs at 10:33 AM on March 27, 2009

Finished side facing out. But then, I put my flat sheets on with the printed side up and never turn my blankets down, so I may be aesthetically challenged.
posted by anderjen at 10:34 AM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Ha, I just hung a new fabric curtain and fabric liner, finally on the same rings to correct a longstanding inconvenience. It seemed 'right' to me to have the finished side of the liner facing the tub, since if it were facing the outer curtain it would never be seen. I had better go check to make sure my husband hasn't secretly flipped it...
posted by JenMarie at 10:39 AM on March 27, 2009

Oh, this is about which way the liner faces? The liner should face in.
posted by electroboy at 10:44 AM on March 27, 2009

We have a set like this. I think I usually hang the inner curtain (which goes on the same rings/hooks as the outer curtain) with the finished side facing the tub - that is, unfinished sides of the curtains meet in the middle. But it's possible that I've hung it the other way, too, and not noticed. If my sweetheart thinks I'm doing it wrong, she hasn't said anything.
posted by rtha at 10:46 AM on March 27, 2009

Finished side out for the liner, same as the curtain itself. The pretty side is for "show".
posted by Grlnxtdr at 10:49 AM on March 27, 2009

Liner should face out, just like the fabric curtain.

I never thought about this before, yet somehow I now care. Passionately.

(Also: toilet paper should hang over the roll. So let it be written, so let it be done.)
posted by JoanArkham at 10:52 AM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'd vote for the finished side of the liner facing in, so that water runs down a smooth surface and doesn't puddle on top of the hem. If water hangs around you could get mildew on the spots that stay wet for a long time.

No mildew > esthetics.
posted by Quietgal at 10:56 AM on March 27, 2009

I think it would be nice if the liner faced in. But it sounds like you need some Mythbusters-style testing for the water shedding issue.
posted by desuetude at 11:00 AM on March 27, 2009

Ah, and my husband and I from time to time argue about the way the sheets face. I'm with you on that one. He doesn't get it.

I agree with you for both aesthetics and efficiency. If no one is going to see the finished side if it faces out towards the bathroom then what's the point of it facing that way?

Or, you could solve two birds with one stone and get a plastic liner that has no hems/tags and be done with it.
posted by amanda at 11:03 AM on March 27, 2009

For the liner, you want the exposed hem edge to face the shower curtain, and the finished edge to face you when you're standing in the bathtub. This allows the maximum amount of water to run off the liner without getting caught on the hem edge - which will (marginally) increase dampness and mold.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:03 AM on March 27, 2009

I have owned several cloth liners, and all have had water-repellent "finished" sides. I am unable to report on the water-repellency of the unfinished sides, because I have implicitly agreed with your take on the matter, and have never had an issue with how well the finished side works. But I think some of the responses here are ambiguous in how they're phrased (particularly in light of the way you phrased the question, such that finished side "out" means "finished side against the outer curtain" or "finished side facing the rest of the bathroom, away from the shower"), so I would be wary of showing this thread to your wife, who is likely wrong (unless you got a very strange liner with only the un"finished" side being water-repellent). If the curtains are on the same set of hooks, then there is no reason to have the finished side of the liner against the outer curtain where nobody will ever see it, unless there is a marked difference between the sides in terms of water-repellency that favors the "unfinished" side.

So Science! has it right: just do a test. If there is no clear difference in which side repels water more effectively, then you win, for the reasons you stated. If there is a clear difference, whichever side repels better should face into the tub, away from the outer curtain.
posted by dilettanti at 11:06 AM on March 27, 2009

The inner liner is designed to be cheap and deflect water damage. The finished, fancy, curtain side is designed to face towards visitors for decorative purposes, and presumably be more expensive because it meets different needs.

This can certainly be reversed for inhabitants who are more picky than their theoretical visitors. However, this is an unusual use of shower curtain liners, which should be defended by the person who believes that their preferences as expressed while showering on a regular basis are the more strenuous than the preferences of the most ridiculous and extreme of the possible visitors that might possibly exist and relieve themselves at your residence, and if you are really more unreasonable than the most unreasonable person who might have to pee at your house, you should probably divorce right now.

That, however, is merely my opinion.
posted by mayhap at 11:11 AM on March 27, 2009

this is in danger of becoming a passive-aggressive (yet friendly) obsession


The answer is "Whatever you want honey." The first one to say it wins. Sure, you may have to look at the shower curtain every day, but you'll know that you've developed a skill vital to the sustainability of your relationship. Arguing about stupid shit conditions you to argue. The shower curtain won't break the relationship. Comfort in passive-aggressive behavior will.

Seriously, stop it.
posted by ericc at 11:41 AM on March 27, 2009 [5 favorites]

I say it doesn't matter at all which way it faces.

The difference in water-repellent ability is minimal. Water repellence is results from the "weave" of the fabric. If it's a tight weave, water will bounce off. I use an old white cotton (high thread count) sheet as a shower curtain. It works just fine.
posted by reflecked at 11:48 AM on March 27, 2009

Does the lining of your jacket have it's exposed seams against your body? Liners, by definition, are meant to be used with an outer surface. The unfinished sides meet each other, and the finished sides face out. This is a different situation than living room curtains, in which you might have a sheer curtain (NOT a liner) paired with a heavier curtain, both with their own hardware.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:07 PM on March 27, 2009

FWIW, we use a heavy-duty "hotel weight" liner. The water repellent side is obviously the "unfinished" side...the finished side is more fabric-like.
posted by JoanArkham at 12:21 PM on March 27, 2009

Thanks, Metafilterites! I sent my wife a link to this thread. She is laughing her butt off at the idiocy of it all, and the thought of me caring enough to share it with my *ahem* "Metafilter geeks" (as she put it).

So, The Internets verdict is "unfinished sides of curtain and liner face each other, finished sides face out". My wife has (laughingly) agreed to this. I feel vindicated! Now, when she reminds me that she has been right about almost everything, I can triumphantly shout "But the shower curtain! Remember the shower curtain!"

Now, if I could just get her to understand my totally arbitrary, idiosyncratic (and potentially borderline OCD) method of organizing the coffee cups...
posted by caution live frogs at 12:30 PM on March 27, 2009

PS: She admitted defeat, via email... so the "best answers" marked are the ones that agree with her decision to allow me to claim victory on this meager little thing.
posted by caution live frogs at 12:32 PM on March 27, 2009

(hmm, I agreed with you too. where's my best answer??? maybe I didn't state it clear enough, so my fault. anyway, on to your next husband-wife battle. how about, "clean underwear: to fold or not?")
posted by JenMarie at 1:18 PM on March 27, 2009

Finished side out, not in the tub. Wife wins.

At least, your victory is far from definitive, going by the number of answers on each side in this thread.
posted by vincele at 2:49 PM on March 27, 2009

Even though this issue has been decided, I have to add: I have never heard of a fabric shower curtain liner. Why wouldn't you just get plastic and be done with it. I guess I've never shopped around, 'cuz everyone else seems to know what you're talking about. Weird.
posted by purpletangerine at 3:21 PM on March 27, 2009

purpletangerine- the fabric ones are much more "homey". I have a cheap one, and it makes the shower a much quieter experience and aesthetically warmer. And if you brush against it while showering, it feel less cold and plasticy. I also find that it gets less dirty and doesn't need to be washed as often. Even better than the much more expensive "hospitality" grade bug-resistant ones.

I never noticed which side I face in or out, but if I did, my personal inclination would be to have the finished side face into the shower. Just like normal curtains- the liner faces the window, the fancy pattern faces the room. And the back side of both face each other.
posted by gjc at 4:43 PM on March 27, 2009

I suspect that gracefully allowing your spouse to control this minor detail would be good for your marriage. I would say the same to her.
posted by theora55 at 5:15 PM on March 27, 2009

I know this is well settled, but I wanted to chime in as rtha's sweetheart and say that yes, she's doing it right, and I agree with her.
posted by gingerbeer at 8:48 PM on March 27, 2009 [2 favorites]

So you put it up, she changed it and you changed it back? For aesthetics? Really? Y'all care about that shit.

At our house, whoever goes to the pain of putting the new one in can hang it however the hell they want and no one ever notices. The pole, though- the pole needs to be replaced with the connector thing on the "wrong" half, so the curtains will slide like they're supposed to so you (I) don't have to jerk them over a pole seam every freaking day. God!
posted by auntbunny at 10:18 PM on March 27, 2009

Wife is always right. Just remember that, and everything will be ok.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 10:28 PM on March 28, 2009

get a solid screen,. they are much better than curtains - problem solved
posted by edtut at 4:21 AM on March 29, 2009

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