Best way to clean soapscum off a shower curtain?
December 4, 2009 8:55 AM   Subscribe

What's the best way to clean soap scum off a shower curtain?

I don't want to remove the curtain, and I don't want to die from the fumes. And I don't want to spend $4 on another curtain when the old one is just fine. I'd love a chemical that I can spray on the scum, wait a bit, and then just rinse off. Does such a thing exist?

(Currently I spray on cleaner and use a brush to scrub the scum off, with my free hand pressing against the other side of the curtain to provide a surface to scrub against.)
posted by Nonce to Home & Garden (28 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Why the aversion to removing the curtain? Throwing it in a washing machine with some bleach is so, so easy.
posted by anthropoid at 8:58 AM on December 4, 2009

Spray vinegar on it.
posted by dfriedman at 8:58 AM on December 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

I agree that removing the curtain is the easiest way. I was going to recommend removing it and soaking it in a dilute vinegar solution in your bathtub. I don't see any reason why you can't just spray a 10% vinegar solution directly onto it and let it sit for a while, though. Give it a shot.
posted by sickinthehead at 8:59 AM on December 4, 2009

If you don't want to remove the curtain because you have those annoying plastic snap-in rings, consider getting hook-style hangers. These are a life-changer, seriously! Then you can toss it in the washer without dread.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 9:01 AM on December 4, 2009

Sorry, sicknthehead is right that it should be a diluted vinegar solution. Not 100% vinegar
posted by dfriedman at 9:07 AM on December 4, 2009

Every time I've put a plastic shower curtain liner in the clothes washer, it's become damaged. Just saying.

We use a Tilex for soap scum (there are two or three varieties of Tilex; make sure you pick the right one). There are definitely fumes, though. Anyway, we spray it, wait a bit, then sponge off the visibly scummy and/or discolored bits. This doesn't really fit your requirements, but it's all I've got.
posted by amtho at 9:08 AM on December 4, 2009

I wash my plastic shower curtain in the washing machine every few months; it eventually starts to tear up but I can generally get 2-3 years use out of it. The trick is to wash in hot water so the plastic is not so brittle. Bleach is needed if mildew is a problem, not so much if it is just soap scum.
posted by TedW at 9:23 AM on December 4, 2009

I found those Mr. Clean Magic Erasers (or the generic version) do a great job of removing scum from my shower doors. Stick your hand or a book behind the curtain and try it out.

For future use, try the daily version of Tilex or a similar brand after every shower to avoid buildup. It's a little fume-y, but not as bad as the usual stuff. Or even try spraying diluted vinegar daily instead.

For even more future use, consider spending a couple of hundred bucks on sliding doors, if you own your place or your landlord is willing. No more water on the floor and cleaning is definitely easier.
posted by maudlin at 9:33 AM on December 4, 2009

And I don't want to spend $4 on another curtain when the old one is just fine. I'd love a chemical that I can spray on the scum, wait a bit, and then just rinse off. Does such a thing exist?

Just to note that it's entirely possible for the cleaning product to cost more than that.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:38 AM on December 4, 2009 [3 favorites]

Though I am a miserly sort, this is one of those things that I have decided to just spend the money on because I'd prefer to do other things with my free time. I hate, hate, hate, cleaning the shower liner, so I just buy a new one.

When I need to freshen it up just a bit for a guest and don't have time to go out to get a new one, I spray Clorox Clean-up Spray on it, let it sit for about 10 minutes, then rinse it off with the shower head.
posted by chiababe at 9:39 AM on December 4, 2009

I just used 10% bleach in a spray bottle to clean mine (supporting the backside with a book is a good idea, especially if you have a helper). It seems to help keep the mold off for a while too.
posted by bengarland at 9:42 AM on December 4, 2009

I don't know why it took me so long to switch to a cloth shower curtain. I grew up with one, but I insisted in using plastic ones that were hard to clean and grew soap scum and mold like it was an olympic sport.

I'm saying you should give up. Get a cheap (>$10) cloth shower curtain, and scotch guard it if you are inclined (I don't). The cloth dries quicker than the plastic so mold doesn't have a chance to grow. I still have to take the shower curtain off, but I can put it in the washing machine with bleach and be sure that it is super clean without that squicky hand pressing attempts to clean it.
posted by Gor-ella at 9:56 AM on December 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

I find that ammonia-based cleaners like 409 and Fantastic work best on soap scum. I have one of those heavy-duty "hotel" shower curtains, and ammonia is the cleaner that was recommended in the care instructions that came with it. Fumes can be an issue, though.

I quickly spray cleaning solution all over the curtain and on a large car-washing sponge. Step out of the room for a couple of minutes while the mist settles and the soap scum softens. Straddle the edge of the tub, hold the sponge on the dirty side of the curtain and a dry, bunched-up hand towel on the clean side for support, and draw both hands down from top to bottom together. When done, the sponge goes through the laundry.
posted by jon1270 at 10:02 AM on December 4, 2009

After you've cleaned your curtain, consider replacing your bar soap with liquid soap.

I bought one bottle of liquid soap per location (ie, one for sink, one for tub/shower, etc), then I just refill them with the cheapest dish detergent I can find.

My tub and sinks are so much cleaner and so much easier to clean since I completely banned all bar soap from my home.
posted by marsha56 at 10:09 AM on December 4, 2009

2nd the cloth shower curtain. Yeah, you have to take it off to wash, but the right kind of hooks/rings makes that pretty easy and fast. Dries quickly and a bit of bleach in the machine has it looking brand new. Mine cost something like $12 from Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and I'll never go back to a vinyl curtain again.
posted by 6550 at 10:27 AM on December 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Nthing throwing that baby in the washer to soak with a little bleach.

As for soap scum in general, I've honestly not found anything that works better than Dawn mixed with white vinegar in a spray bottle diluted with a little water. And that includes Tilex and the like.
posted by desuetude at 10:36 AM on December 4, 2009

Don't you find that cloth shower curtains leak water into the room?

Whenever I stay at a hotel that has one, that happens.
posted by reddot at 11:01 AM on December 4, 2009

I also used to scrub my shower curtain. Then I realized how stupid that was. Seriously, I re-use everything, never buy paper towels, people complain about my eco-toilet paper, etc. I try to be as conscious of my waste as possible, and share the sentiment that it's silly to throw something away thats still perfectly good.

I have twin hook curtain hangers. On the outside of the tub is a nice looking cloth curtain. On the inside is a $1 plastic liner from the dollar store.

(If not moldy or anything) Re-use it as a messy project drop cloth, or a layer under your picnic blanket, greenhouse cover, etc.
posted by fontophilic at 11:08 AM on December 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

In the future, the best thing is to buy a mildew-resistant shower curtain liner. That way any grossness doesn't damage your actual shower curtain (which hangs out the outside).
posted by radioamy at 11:23 AM on December 4, 2009

I take a paper towel and rub down the shower while its still wet, pick up the hair from the drain trap with the wet paper towel, and cast the wad into the recycle yard stuff bin. Life is good. No chemicals, clean, dry, mold free surfaces. Other life forms on the planet to enjoy.
posted by effluvia at 11:32 AM on December 4, 2009

Don't you find that cloth shower curtains leak water into the room?

Mine is a polyester with a tight weave. While it does get wet it only soaks through a in few places and doesn't allow water to run through or anything like that. It doesn't leak water into the room. I suppose it could allow water through if you aimed the stream right at it but that's not my shower head is oriented.
posted by 6550 at 11:58 AM on December 4, 2009

We take our shower curtain off the hooks and toss it into the washing machine with some baking soda and vinegar. It always comes out super clean -- and no scrubbing!
posted by fancyoats at 12:04 PM on December 4, 2009

Maybe I'm odd, but I love scrubbing my curtain with baking soda and a scrub brush.
posted by bobbyno at 1:23 PM on December 4, 2009

I personally spent $10 on a mildew-resistant shower liner from... (picks up label I'm too slovenly to throw away) Style's Eco-soft brand. I know you don't want to spend money or replace the curtain, but if you accidentally mess it up, it's a good one. I keep it clean by spraying it daily with Method Daily Shower spray, which is in a clear bottle. The spray has a slight smell to it, but it's non-offensive (to me), and it's no more intense than the other soaps in the bathroom. You're talking about the plastic part that hangs inside the tub, right? I use a liner and a curtain. The curtain looks nice (it's plastic, but good quality, thick and textured plastic), and the liner is just a clear plastic sheet.

My mom says that Soft Scrub and a rough sponge do a good job on mold and scum on a shower curtain, but I don't like working with bleach products like that unless I need to and it would have been a pain to do a curtain that large. For mold in the shower, I sometimes use undiluted Dr. Bronner's castille soap, which is less of a pain than bleach (doesn't stain or stink). If you're determined to keep this curtain (which is admittedly probably better for the environment and your finances than what I did), I'd suggest that. Maybe lay it out flat in your backyard or garage if it's warm enough to keep the smell from getting to you.
posted by mccarty.tim at 2:41 PM on December 4, 2009

Next time around, use Tilex daily shower cleaner after every shower. My apartment used to be a hotbed of black mold and I haven't had a problem in ages.
posted by aquafortis at 2:48 PM on December 4, 2009

I know this sounds crazy, but I have found Shout (a brand of laundry stain remover) to be -amazing- at cleaning soap scum off shower walls. I would give that a try on your shower curtain liner.
posted by browse at 5:06 PM on December 4, 2009

I have a plastic show curtain that is ... I don't even remember how many years old. If I'm feeling fancy I spray my bath and the show curtain with something like this. Otherwise it's dilute vinegar in a bottle that fancy stuff came in.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 6:07 PM on December 4, 2009

My shower curtain experience changed for the better when I did two things, both of which have been suggested here:

1.) Switched from full circle hoop rings to decorative hooks (they have geegaws that match the bathroom, even!).

2.) Learned that I could pop the plastic shower curtain into the washing machine on warm, add some wash clothes to make proper friction scrubby movements during the various cycles, and then pull out a magically clean shower curtain.

I am way too lazy to spray the curtain down every time, and the curtains are so big that I'd have to take it down to scrub it well. With the hooks, it's remarkably simple to remove, and now my simple yet effective shower curtain maintenance makes me feel like a grown up, even when other things don't.
posted by redsparkler at 3:14 AM on December 5, 2009

« Older Tell me your favorite books on meditation!   |   Stop my tee's from cracking up! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.