How do hotels keep their shower curtains mildew-free?
July 2, 2008 8:21 AM   Subscribe

How do hotels keep their shower curtains mildew-free?

Is it part of the daily cleaning regimen? Do they replace them often? Do they buy better ones?

I ask because I have an awful time with mildew on my shower curtain, and I assumed it was mainly because I don't have a bathroom window for light and ventilation. But hotel rooms don't either, and yet the hotels seem to have the problem solved (presumably because a mildewed shower curtain would be a deal-killer for most hotel guests.)
posted by smackfu to Home & Garden (21 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
I believe this stuff works; in my house we just buy a new liner (not curtain, but the plastic part behind it) every 3 months or so. Costs like $5. It's not a very "green" solution, but I doubt the shower spray is either.
posted by noble_rot at 8:34 AM on July 2, 2008


They clean them every day. Or at the very least, after each guest leaves. I think if you washed your shower curtain with a bleach solution daily (and also did the tub, tile, and other things that the curtain touches), you too would have no mold problem.
posted by zpousman at 8:39 AM on July 2, 2008


I have had awesome luck with the anti-mildew shower curtain liners from Target. My last one went for about 2 years and I just now replaced it. I used to use just regular ones and they would turn cruddy fast, these last and last. They cost about twice as much than a regular shower curtain.
posted by rbeaver at 8:48 AM on July 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


You know, you can wash a shower curtain in a regular washer with some bleach and it'll be brand new again for a while.
posted by Craig at 8:56 AM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've found that after each shower, I need to close the curtain, so there aren't any folds of the plastic curtain touching each other. It seems that these folds that touch are where the mildew really grows, at least for me.

I also have a bottle with homemade cleanser, that is pretty environmentally friendly. After each shower I spray the plastic curtain with it. The cleanser is:
2 cups water
.5 cup white vinegar
.25 teaspoon lavender essential oil
.25 teaspoon tea tree essential oil.

Shake well in a clean spray bottle.
posted by All.star at 8:57 AM on July 2, 2008 [9 favorites]


Sunshine is good. If you have one of those plastic shower rods, it's quicker to take that off than the hooks, and set the whole thing on your lawn.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:05 AM on July 2, 2008


I suspect that hotels deal with this by having lots of cheap labor to scrub the shower daily ... :-) My solution is to use a shower curtain liner and wash it every 4 weeks or so on a cold wash with a small amount of detergent. It comes up totally mildew free. (Target has good transparent plastic shower liners, but you have to air them in the yard for a couple of days before first use to get rid of the formaldehyde odor).
The other critical element of a mildew-free shower is to get a removable/flexible hose showerhead (like this one). Then you can just spray round the shower area at the end of your shower, to remove the detritus and soap scum that causes mildew to form.
posted by Susurration at 9:12 AM on July 2, 2008


If you go the replacing route, check out the cheap non-PVC liners from Ikea. They are made from PEVA, which isn't toxic like PVC.
posted by Askr at 9:13 AM on July 2, 2008


Hotel bathrooms DO have ventilation, there is always a little grill on the ceiling, which connects with ducts that go to the roof. They don't pull air out of the bathrooms with a woosh, but they are pulling a little air out all the time.

At home, if you have a bathroom fan and use it whenever showering and for maybe 10 minutes afterward, you should not have a mildew problem. You should keep the curtain open, not bunched up, and as noted it does need cleaning now and then. If there's no window AND no fan, you should think of getting something installed.
posted by beagle at 9:26 AM on July 2, 2008


I second putting it in your washing machine with some bleach. Works for me.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 10:18 AM on July 2, 2008


You know, you can wash a shower curtain in a regular washer with some bleach and it'll be brand new again for a while.

That's what I came in here to suggest.

It was nice because the curtain came out all soft and far cleaner than I could have got it by scrubbing.
posted by philomathoholic at 10:29 AM on July 2, 2008


zpousman said: "They clean them every day. Or at the very least, after each guest leaves. I think if you washed your shower curtain with a bleach solution daily (and also did the tub, tile, and other things that the curtain touches), you too would have no mold problem."

I don't want to scare you, but I've worked in housekeeping in a luxury hotel, and I believe you are overestimating the fastidiousness of the hospitality industry.
posted by loiseau at 10:47 AM on July 2, 2008


When I worked as a room attendant, we wiped them down between guests. When they started to look icky, we threw them in the washing machine.
posted by ms.v. at 11:01 AM on July 2, 2008


I have an add-on bathroom with no ventilation and no reasonable option for such. I had mildew constantly. The completely over-the-top thing I do myself:

1) Use only shower curtain liner, not shower curtain.

2) Buy lightweight shower curtain liner.

3) Cut shower curtain liner in half (or two-thirds), such that, when extended to its full, just covers the shower entrance from one side to another.

4) Install shower curtain such that the bottom of it hangs, rather than rests on the tub/basin floor.

5) Attach (using magnets, binder clips, what have you) one side of the liner to one side of the wall shower wall, if at all possible. This is a semi-permanent attachment. Make the point of attachment perhaps one-third of the way down from the top of the liner.

6) Attach (using magnets, binder clips, etc) the other side to something else. Do not make this permanent. The shower curtain is now stretched without folds.

7) Trim out any lower left and right corners, near to the magnets, as they will want to fold a bit in the next step.

8) Aim a fan at the shower curtain, from about three feet, when you get out of the shower. The liner will lift a bit. The little magnets in the corners that come with most will provide some weight. You can put this on a timer or turn it off after three or so hours, depending on the humidity and temperature.

9) Your shower and liner will now be bone dry. The liner, which should be a transparent rather than a translucent variety, might also be well-lit if the bathroom has a window. Without moisture and cracks, this is now an inhospitable environment for mildew.

This keeps my shower curtain liners from needing replacement 'cept for about once a year. No chemicals. I am a little concerned about the electricity usage, and when I come up with something better, I'll try that.
posted by adipocere at 11:07 AM on July 2, 2008


As for throwing shower curtains in the wash with bleach; can you do that with the plastic/vinyl inner ones? Or can you only do that on the cloth-like outer curtains? If you can, what water temperature do you use?
posted by Juffo-Wup at 11:46 AM on July 2, 2008


I throw mine in the washer with the towels every couple of weeks. Regular detergent plus a cupful of washing soda added (which is getting harder and harder to find). You can even throw it in the dryer on low for about 10 minutes to get the excess water off; this also softens it a little bit making it easier to put back up. (um, don't put it on high heat or forget to put it on "time dry". Find out why the hard way, like I did!)
posted by nax at 12:38 PM on July 2, 2008


Juffo-Wup said: "As for throwing shower curtains in the wash with bleach; can you do that with the plastic/vinyl inner ones? Or can you only do that on the cloth-like outer curtains? If you can, what water temperature do you use?"

I put a plastic one in the washer with lukewarm water once -- but the printed designs on it got more or less washed off. So I think it's safe as long as you keep the water reasonably warm but not hot, and the curtain doesn't have any design printed on it.
posted by loiseau at 1:17 PM on July 2, 2008


Oh, and also: I actually ended up washing one of my shower curtains today (my tub takes two) and I put it in a hot wash with some Borax, after spraying down the moldy parts with Lysol. It's hanging outside in the sun right now but it seems to be nice and clean again, even around the bottom seam. I kind of don't want to put it back in the shower now.
posted by loiseau at 1:19 PM on July 2, 2008


I washed my plastic shower curtain in the washer today on the advice of this thread. It came out remarkably clean, cleaner than when I tried to handwash it in the tub and with a lot less work and mess. One caveat: I did have the problem loiseau described. Patches of the surface design came off in the parts where it was most soiled. I thought the design went all the way through, so that was kind of weird. I think the mildew ate the design or something. Scary.
posted by smackfu at 4:41 PM on July 2, 2008


I have a cloth inner curtain that I most likely got from Target. When I wash it once a month or so, it's clean as anything. And it makes the shower much quieter.
posted by gjc at 9:03 PM on July 2, 2008


If you are spooky about putting a plastic shower curtain in the washer, you can always fill the tub, soak, rinse, and return it to its rightful height.

I've washed plastic in the washer for years with no problems, but then I use the kind with a pattern in the plastic, no painted colors.

And by years I mean if you take care of it (vinegar!), a $10 shower curtain from Target will last more than 10 years.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 3:47 PM on July 3, 2008


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