5 Best Cleaner for Plastic Shower Curtains [In 2024]

Plastic shower curtains are affordable, easy to install, and serve an important purpose in bathrooms by containing water spray. However, the humid, damp bathroom environment can lead to buildup of soap scum, hard water stains, mold, and mildew. Left untreated, this buildup not only looks unpleasant but can degrade shower curtains over time and release mold spores into bathroom air.

That’s why regular cleaning is essential for extending the life of plastic shower curtains and maintaining good hygiene. But with so many cleaning products on the market, how do you choose the best cleaner for plastic shower curtains? We review the pros and cons of popular options below.

Top Cleaner for Plastic Shower Curtains product review table

ProductSpecialized UseHarsh ChemicalsCleaning PowerMold RemovalPriceOverall Rating
CLR Bath & Kitchen CleanerYes, bathroomsSome glycolic acid⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐$$⭐⭐⭐⭐
Lysol Power Toilet Bowl CleanerNo, toiletsYes, hydrochloric acid⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐$⭐⭐⭐
Clorox Clean-UpNo, general useSome bleach⭐⭐⭐$⭐⭐
Tilex Mold & Mildew RemoverYes, mold/mildewSome bleach odor⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐$$⭐⭐⭐⭐
Oh Yuk Drain CleanerNo, drainsYes, sulfuric acid⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐$$⭐⭐


Vinegar is commonly recommended for cleaning shower curtains because it’s inexpensive, non-toxic, and naturally antibacterial. The acetic acid in vinegar dissolves soap scum, hard water deposits, and mildew.


  • Inexpensive and readily available
  • Non-toxic and eco-friendly
  • Naturally antibacterial against mold and mildew


  • Can leave behind strong vinegar odor that dissipates over time
  • Not as effective at removing heavier buildup and stains

To clean with vinegar, mix equal parts warm water and white vinegar in a spray bottle. Lightly spray solution over the shower curtain, then let sit for up to an hour before rinsing. For tougher stains, use a soft-bristle scrub brush while spraying.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is a mild abrasive cleaner that also neutralizes odors. When combined with water, baking soda forms a gentle scrubbing paste effective at breaking down residue.


  • Gentle abrasive action cleans without scratching
  • Helps deodorize plastic shower curtains
  • Low cost and readily available


  • Messier than spray cleaners
  • May need additional scrubbing for tougher buildup

To use baking soda, mix 2-3 tablespoons with just enough water to form a spreadable paste. Apply paste to shower curtain with a soft sponge or cloth, let sit briefly, then scrub gently before rinsing. Repeat if needed for stubborn areas.

Dish Soap

The degreasing agents in dish soap make it useful for cutting through soap scum, oils, and grime on plastic shower curtains. Dish soap is inexpensive, simple to use, and rinses cleanly.


  • Effective at removing grease and soap scum
  • Designed to cut through stuck-on gunk and residue
  • Low cost and easy availability


  • Doesn’t have disinfectant properties to kill mold or mildew
  • Heavily fragranced varieties can leave lingering smells

The best practice is to fill a bucket or sink with warm water and add a small squirt of basic liquid dish soap (not dishwasher detergent). Submerge shower curtain and let soak for up to an hour, agitating periodically. Rinse thoroughly.

Top Cleaner for Plastic Shower Curtains

1. CLR Bath & Kitchen Cleaner


  • Specialized formula designed for bathroom cleaning, including soap scum removal
  • Cuts through stubborn hard water stains and residue
  • Pleasant clean scent


  • More expensive than regular household cleaners
  • Contains harsh ingredients like glycolic acid
  • May require scrubbing for tougher buildup

Effectiveness: With ingredients like glycolic acid, surfactants, and fragrance, CLR Bath & Kitchen Cleaner is very effective at cutting through the typical soap scum, hard water buildup, and mildew that accumulate on plastic shower curtains. It clings well to vertical surfaces which helps the active ingredients penetrate and dissolve buildup. May require some additional scrubbing. Overall an excellent cleaner specifically designed for bathroom and shower cleaning.

2. Lysol Power Toilet Bowl Cleaner


  • Strong formula with hydrochloric acid removes stubborn stains
  • Foaming action clings to surfaces
  • Kills 99.9% of mold and mildew


  • Harsh chemical fumes
  • Damages some plastics with prolonged contact
  • Primarily designed for toilets, not shower curtains

Effectiveness: The hydrochloric acid and surfactants in Lysol Power Toilet Bowl Cleaner break down mineral deposits, soap scum, mold and mildew very quickly. However it may damage plastic shower curtain liners with extended contact. It also has an aggressive chemical odor. As it’s designed for toilets, it’s likely too harsh for most shower cleaning purposes.

3. Clorox Clean-Up All Purpose Cleaner


  • Readily available in most stores
  • Affordable pricing for amount
  • Cuts through common bathroom grime and soap scum


  • Not specially formulated for shower cleaning
  • May require scrubbing for tougher mold or limescale
  • Has strong bleach odor

Effectiveness: As an all-purpose cleaner, Clorox Clean-Up can breakdown basic soap scum and grime on shower curtains with some scrubbing. However it’s not specially designed for mineral deposits or mold removal. The bleach odor may also linger. It’s a decent option for basic cleaning but likely won’t tackle tougher shower curtain buildup as effectively as a bath-specific formula.

4. Tilex Mold & Mildew Remover


  • Specialized formula to remove mold and mildew
  • Bleach-free formula
  • Cuts through soap scum buildup


  • Strong chemical fumes
  • May require scrubbing for thicker buildup
  • More expensive than generic cleaners

Effectiveness: With sodium hypochlorite as the active ingredient, Tilex Mold & Mildew Remover is designed to cut through and disinfect mold, mildew, and soap scum on shower curtains. It effectively removes discoloration and kills mold spores. The thicker gel formula clings well to vertical surfaces. It does have a strong bleach odor during use. Overall an excellent choice specifically for mold and soap scum removal.

5. Oh Yuk Jet Tub & Sink Drain Cleaner


  • Strong formula with sulfuric acid dissolves gunk
  • Foaming action clings to surfaces
  • Removes lingering odors


  • Very harsh chemical cleaner
  • Glove recommended to prevent skin irritation
  • Primarily made for drains, not shower curtains

Effectiveness: With its high concentration of sulfuric acid, Oh Yuk is one of the strongest chemical cleaners available. It quickly dissolves organic material and buildup inside drains. However, it may be too harsh for most shower curtains, causing damage or irritation with direct contact. As it’s designed for drains rather than surfaces, there are better shower curtain options. But it would be extremely effective if necessary.

Best Practices for Cleaning

Now that we’ve covered some of the most popular cleaners for plastic shower curtains, what are some best practices for getting them thoroughly clean and keeping them that way?

Regular Cleaning

Cleaning shower curtains once a week or every other week prevents buildup from becoming too stubborn. Set a regular schedule based on frequency of shower use.

Using Multiple Cleaners

You can boost cleaning power by using a combination of products, such as spraying with vinegar first then following up with a baking soda scrub.

Following Directions

Carefully read and follow label directions for any commercial cleaners to avoid damage. Never mix chemical products.

Rinsing Thoroughly

After cleaning, rinse both sides of the curtain fully with clean water to remove any chemical residue.

Drying Properly

Allow shower curtains to completely air dry before rehanging to prevent mold and mildew growth.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I clean my plastic shower curtain?

Clean your shower curtain once a week or every other week to prevent buildup of soap scum, mold, and mildew. Clean more frequently if you notice grime accumulating.

What’s the easiest shower curtain cleaner to use?

Vinegar mixed with water in a spray bottle offers very simple, no scrub cleaning for light shower curtain grime. Dish soap is also an easy, effective cleaner with minimal effort.

Can I put my plastic liner in the washing machine?

Yes, most standard vinyl shower curtain liners can be placed in the washing machine using hot water and laundry detergent then air dried. Check the label first.


To summarize, go-to cleaners for plastic shower curtains include white vinegar, baking soda, liquid dish soap, hydrogen peroxide, and specialized commercial bathroom or mold cleaners. Store-bought cleaners work quickly but homemade solutions like vinegar and baking soda offer affordable, eco-friendly cleaning options.

No matter which cleaner you choose, regular cleaning is key for maintaining fresh, grime-free shower curtains. Follow label directions closely and thoroughly rinse and dry shower liners after cleaning. Implementing good shower curtain care habits prevents lasting damage and keeps bathrooms sparkling.

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