Can You Put a Plastic Shower Curtain In a Washing Machine?

Can You Put a Plastic Shower Curtain In a Washing Machine? Definitive Guide

Plastic curtains provide more than just privacy benefits in the shower. But like any other surfaces in your bathroom, they are susceptible to dirty and mildew. While some people may prefer hand washing, others wonder if they can machine wash.

This begs the question: Can you put a plastic shower curtain in a washing machine? Yes, you can put a plastic shower curtain in the washing machine for proper cleaning. However, unlike normal laundry cleaning, you must set the temperature to warm or cold, use mild detergents, and maintain a low spin speed.

Once clean, you can air-dry them, and they will be ready for reinstalling. But are there risks to machine washing plastic curtains? Read on to find out!

Is It Possible to Put a Plastic Shower Curtain In a Washing Machine?

While some recommend changing the plastic shower curtain once every six months, cleaning it can reduce this frequency. Typically, most people would prefer handwashing it, considering it is plastic. Others get curious and wonder whether they can put it in the washing machine. The short answer is YES.

Putting a plastic shower curtain in the washing machine is generally safe. While plastic shower curtains may seem delicate, they are designed to hold up against water regularly in the bathroom. This makes them durable enough to handle a washing machine cycle when done properly.  

Plastic shower curtains are made of materials like vinyl or polyethylene that can withstand getting wet without sustaining damage. A washing machine’s rubbing motion and spin cycle pose no risk as these plastics are flexible rather than brittle. 

However, for you to clean a plastic shower liner effectively in the washing machine without worry of cracks or breaks, you must make sure;

  • The temperature is on the warm or cold setting,
  • The detergent is mild, and 
  • The spin speed remains low.

For most common plastic shower curtains, the material’s structure makes them suited to machine washing. Some delicate textile curtains may require hand washing. 

However, the tough yet pliable composition of vinyl and polyethylene used in most plastic liners makes them suitable for a regular load’s agitation and rinse cycle. 

This allows plastic curtains to easily and thoroughly be stripped of dirt, soap scum, and germs with minimal effort compared to other cleaning methods. So, in summary, yes, plastic shower curtains can absolutely be washed safely in the washing machine.

How Do You Clean A Plastic Shower Curtain in A Washing Machine?

As mentioned, you don’t clean plastic shower curtains the same way you clean your laundry. You must follow certain precautionary steps to ensure you machine wash your plastic curtains safely yet effectively. 

Step 1: Remove the Shower Curtain

The first step is to remove the shower curtain from the rod. Carefully take down the curtain and remove any rings, hooks, or magnets that are attached. Taking off any accessories will prevent them from getting damaged or lost during the wash.

Step 2: Load The Washer

Once the shower curtain is bare, add it to the washing machine. For smaller or standard-sized curtains, a regular load size should work well. Add a small amount of HE (high-efficiency) detergent made for delicate fabrics. Placing some towels in with the curtain will help balance the load.

Step 3: Choose The Proper Cycle

Most washing machines have a delicate or hand wash cycle that spins slowly. This is the best setting for plastic shower curtains. The slower spinning action is gentler on the material. Additionally, use a warm water temperature setting. Avoid hot water, which could potentially warp or weaken the plastic over time.

After finishing the washing, rinse the curtain thoroughly with clean and cool water. 

Step 4: Allow to Air Dry

After the washing machine cycle is complete, remove the clean shower curtain. Lay the curtain flat or hang it up to air dry completely before putting it back on the rod. Hanging allows any residual water to evaporate gently without the risk of warping.

Are There Risks Of Putting A Plastic Shower Curtain In A Washing Machine?

Yes. While many plastic shower curtains can safely be washed in a washing machine, there are some potential risks. Washing plastic curtains in the machine may expose them to heat, agitation, and other elements that could damage the material over time if not done correctly. Some key risks include:

Melting and Distortion

One of the primary concerns with machine washing plastic shower curtains is the possibility of melting or distortion due to heat exposure. Vinyl and plastic materials can damaged by the heat and agitation of a washing machine. This can cause the material to warp, crack, or even melt. 

The vigorous agitation of the wash and spin cycles also increases the potential for distortion of the curtain material.

Premature Wear and Tear

Repeated washing and drying cycles can cause even durable plastics to break down more quickly over time. The mechanical abrasion of tossing and spinning risks micro-tears in the material weave that promote fatigue. 

More hand washing or limited machine use can help extend the lifespan of plastic curtains.

Why Shouldn’t You Put a Plastic Shower Curtain In The Dryer After Washing?

Putting a plastic shower curtain in the dryer after washing poses a significant risk of damage, so it is generally not recommended. While convenient, subjecting plastic materials to intense heat can melt or warp their structure. 

Here are a few key reasons why plastic shower curtains should not be machine-dried:

Heat sensitivity

Many plastic shower curtains, especially those made of vinyl or PVC, are heat-sensitive. It can begin to melt at temperatures as low as 140 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Most dryer cycles exceed this temperature threshold, presenting a fire hazard if plastic begins to drip or smoke. Even if melting does not occur, the intense heat can cause subtle warping or distortion of the plastic over time.

Rigidification

The high heat of a dryer can cause some plastic polymers to become brittle and inflexible rather than retaining their pliable qualities. Drying plastic causes chemical changes that make it more rigid, rendering shower curtains less functional. Over-dried plastic may crack rather than flex smoothly around the shower rod.

Potential damage

Tumbling movements in the dryer risk snagging or tearing plastic materials, especially if they are not fully dried and thus more brittle. Hooks and ties attached could also tangle in the fast spins. This physical wear compounds heat risks.

For these reasons, it is always safest to air-dry plastic shower curtains to maintain their condition. Hang to fully dry in open air with good ventilation to avoid mold. 

While a clothesline on a sunny day can speed the process, natural drying prevents heat damage that risks ruining the curtain. Air-drying plastic is the gentlest method.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

In addition to the information already covered, here are some other questions people often have about washing plastic shower curtains:

Can a Dirty Plastic Shower Curtain Make You Sick?

Yes, it is possible, but you should not sweat about it. If you’re healthy, there isn’t much to worry about. Most of the dirt on the curtain would be soap scum and body odor-causing mold.

Can I Add Bleach to the Washing Machine When Cleaning Plastic Curtains?

Yes, you can add bleach when washing plastic shower curtains, but only color-safe and in mild concentration. Rinse the curtains thoroughly afterward.

Can Vinegar Be Used To Clean A Plastic Shower Curtain?

Yes, you can use vinegar to clean a plastic shower curtain. It can help break down mold and soap scum. However, do not mix it with other cleaning agents except mild detergent.

Conclusion

Washing your plastic shower curtain in the washing machine is generally safe if you use the appropriate water and temperature settings and mild detergent. However, it is very important to avoid putting the plastic curtain in the dryer afterward as the extreme heat can melt or warp the plastic and damage any accessories. 

If you want to preserve the integrity and longevity of your plastic shower curtain, you should air dry it in open air with good ventilation. Taking the proper precautions ensures your plastic shower curtain is thoroughly and safely cleaned with minimal effort.

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