Shower curtains are a great way of stopping water from covering your bathroom floor after taking a shower.
Unfortunately, they can also be one of the easiest places for mold and mildew to grow and form colonies, leaving you with a smelly and stained curtain in no time.
So what can be done about this? Why is mold building up in the first place? Is it dangerous, does the color matter and how can you stop this from happening again?
Well, never fear, in this article, we will be addressing all these questions and more, so for all you need to know about shower curtain mold, keep reading.
Mix one part hydrogen peroxide to two parts water in a spray bottle and spray over the shower curtain. Leave to sit for twenty minutes, then scrub with an abrasive sponge, a little warm water, and detergent. Rinse with water to remove any mold and detergent residue and leave to air dry.
What causes mold to grow on shower curtains?
There are a few reasons you may be finding mold growing on your shower curtains. First I’ll list the causes, and then we can delve into them in a little more detail.
The main causes of shower curtains becoming moldy are:
- High humidity environments
- Warm temperatures
- Lack of consistent cleaning
- Readily available nutrients
High humidity environment
If there’s one thing mold needs and loves, it’s a source of moisture. Without moisture, mold will dry up and go into a state of hibernation, however, as soon as humidity levels reach higher than 55%, it can once again begin to grow and create larger colonies.
Of course, a bathroom is one of the highest humidity rooms in a property due to the steam that is created during bathing. This moisture creates the perfect humidity levels for mold to thrive.
The temperature at which many strains of mold breed most successfully is between 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit. There are of course some strains that can grow in temperatures above and below this range, but generally, between 60-80 Fahrenheit is where you will start to see the most mold-growing action.
Due to the warm temperatures created by bathing combined with the average thermostat of most American homes being set to between 60-80 Fahrenheit, the perfect temperature for mold growth exists in bathrooms for many months of the year.
Lack of consistent cleaning
You may be under the impression that as a shower curtain is usually within a bathtub, it should be fairly clean as it’s being washed each time clean water passes over it.
Without a shower curtain being cleaned on a regular basis, bacteria and molds can begin to form and cluster together. Despite the curtain and liner coming into contact with water on a regular basis, without scrubbing or the addition of any cleaning products, most bacteria, and molds will be able to continue to live on the liner.
More on this later in the article.
A source of nutrients
Bacteria and molds need nutrients as well as moisture in order to live, and these nutrients more often than not will be coming from organic materials that have built up on the liner of the curtain over time.
This organic material is often made up of dead skin cells that have either settled on the curtain as dust or come away from the skin during contact with the shower curtain. These skin cells provide molds and bacteria with the oils, minerals, and proteins they need.
What types of mold grow on shower curtains?
The most common types of mold you may find growing in a bathroom (and therefore also on your shower curtain), are Cladosporium, aspergillus, penicillium, and Stachybotrys.
These mold strains are usually easy to identify, as they will often come in grey, black, green, blue-green, or brown colorations, and appear in small circular patterns or many small “dots”, sometimes forming into larger clusters.
Another type of mold (pink mold), can often be seen growing on shower curtains, but you may be surprised to discover that this is not actually a strain of mold at all, in fact, it is a type of bacteria called Serratia Marcescens.
Should you be worried about pink mold on a shower curtain?
Serratia Marcescens bacteria can form on any surface when there is adequate moisture (just like mold) and can use fats, oils, and soap residue for sustenance. This is why it is perfectly suited to grow on shower curtains.
Pink molds are not often considered to be dangerous, however, people with suppressed immune systems should still practice caution, as it can cause several symptoms, including:
- Eye infections
- Breathlessness and breathing difficulties
- Gastrointestinal issues
These are the reported symptoms after long-term exposure, so they would not usually apply to small amounts on your shower curtain, but to be safe rather than sorry, it is best to remove the bacteria as soon as possible.
Black mold on shower curtain
Black mold or Stachybotrys can indeed form on shower curtains, although this is rare. From most samples taken of black molds in bathrooms, only 3% were recorded as Stachybotrys strains.
What you may be dealing with, are darker shades of Cladosporium or aspergillus molds, as these are more common and can look very similar in texture and color.
However, just because it is less likely that you are dealing with true “black mold”, on a shower curtain, proper protective measures should still be taken when attempting to remove it yourself in case it is indeed the Stachybotrys strain.
Is the mold that grows on a shower curtain or liner dangerous?
Generally, the molds listed as being the most common to grow on shower curtains (Penicillium, Cladosporium, Aspergillus, and Stachybotrys) do have the ability to produce a toxic substance known as mycotoxins.
Exposure to these mycotoxins can be hazardous to both humans and animals and can cause symptoms such as:
- Breathing difficulties
- Skin irritation
- Brain fog
- Gastrointestinal discomfort
However, much as these symptoms can occur, they are more often seen in people with suppressed immune systems or people who are particularly vulnerable to them, usually as a result of having an allergy to the mold or its spores.
The amount of mold you are likely to find growing on a shower will be small, and so the number of spores released will also be low. This makes it much less likely that any serious harm could come about from mold and mildew growing on a shower curtain.
That being said, it is still wise to remove the mold as soon as it is discovered and to wear the proper safety equipment when attempting to remove the mold yourself, just in case you have an allergy that you are unaware of. We will list out the types of recommended protective gear later in the article.
Remove mold from a plastic shower curtain
The good news is, removing mold from a shower curtain isn’t particularly difficult or time-consuming.
There are however different approaches to take if you have a fabric shower curtain or a plastic shower curtain and liner, so to begin with, we will look at the most common type, which is plastic shower curtains.
Before we begin, remember that coming into direct contact with mold spores can be hazardous, therefore, it is advised that before you begin, you wear the following protective gear:
- Eye goggles
- A breathing mask
- Rubber gloves
To remove mold and mildew from a plastic shower curtain and liner, use the following steps.
Step 1. Remove the shower curtain and take it to an outside area to prevent spores from being transferred from the curtain to other areas of the property.
Step 2. Create a solution of one part hydrogen peroxide to two parts water in a spray bottle and liberally spray all over the shower curtain.
Remember, just because you can’t see mold patches, doesn’t mean its spores are not already settled and ready to start a new colony. Spray the entire curtain to kill off the mold in its entirety.
Step 3. Leave the hydrogen peroxide to sit for at least twenty minutes in order to do its work.
Step 4. Scrub the most heavily affected areas with an abrasive sponge, a little warm water, and detergent. The mold stains should lift with a little effort.
Step 5. Rinse with water to remove any mold and detergent residue and leave to air dry, preferably in the sun. It is also very important that you make sure the curtain is completely dry before you reattach it, or you may find yourself back in the same situation.
How to clean fabric shower curtains of mold and mildew
Fabric or cloth shower curtains are just as susceptible to mold growth as their plastic counterparts, but they can sometimes be a little trickier to clean, as the mold can get deep into the fabric, whereas it tends to stay on the surface of plastic curtains.
You will again need to be wearing goggles, a breathing mask, and rubber gloves in order to complete this task safely, so with that in mind, please use the following g steps to remove mold from a fabric shower curtain.
Step 1. Remove your fabric shower curtain and place it in a bathtub or the base of the shower.
Step 2. Make a solution of 1 cup of white vinegar, a tablespoon of baking soda, and one gallon of water.
Step 3. Pour the solution over the shower curtain and leave it to sit for at least twenty minutes. The vinegar will kill the mild and the baking soda will help to lift any stains caused by the mold.
Step 4. Using a soft-bristled brush, scrub the most heavily affected areas using circular motions. You should see the stains begin to lift.
Step 5. Rinse with warm water to remove any residue and hang to dry in a well-ventilated and preferably sunny area. Ensure the curtain is completely dry before reattaching it.
Natural ways to clean mildew from shower curtains
Bleach and other harsh chemicals are often used to clean mold from shower curtains, but there are plenty of alternatives if you would rather take a more natural route.
Baking soda can be sprinkled on very well-established patches of mold, then a few drops of white distilled vinegar added. This will cause a reaction that will not only kill mold but lift any stains caused by it. This process is equally as effective, if not more effective than some of the specific mold removal products you may find in department stores.
How to wash a moldy shower curtain in the washing machine
One of the easiest methods to clean mold from either a plastic or fabric shower curtain is to simply place it in a washing machine.
Washing on a warm, gentle cycle with detergent is usually enough to kill and remove mold from a shower curtain. If you find once you remove your shower curtain it still has stains, you can repeat the process, this time with half a cup of baking soda added to the drum before the cycle begins.
The baking soda will help to kill any leftover mold, but its oxidizing effect is really why you are adding it, as it will help to lift stains from surfaces, as well as assist detergents to work more efficiently.
Can you use bleach to clean a moldy shower curtain and liner?
You can indeed use bleach to clean and remove mold from a shower curtain.
As bleach is a powerful cleaning agent, it does have the ability to stain and damage fabrics, because of this, it is advised that you perform a quick patch test on a small area that is not often seen.
Put a small amount of diluted bleach onto an area of the curtain that is seen less often, and leave it for a few minutes. If you find the curtain has been stained you will know not to use it anymore.
Once the patch test is complete, you can place the shower curtain in the shower tray or tub. Make a solution of one part bleach to four parts water and pour it into a spray bottle.
Generously spray the curtain with the bleach and water solution, then leave for fifteen minutes for the bleach to do its work. After the fifteen minutes is up, rinse the bleach solution off and hang it out to dry in a sunny area until it is completely dried.
How to prevent mold and mildew from growing on shower curtains
Cleaning mold off a shower curtain is not exactly a difficult task as I hope you have seen so far. However, much easier than cleaning, is preventing mold from growing in the first place.
There are several steps you can take to stop mold from growing on a shower curtain, which are:
Keep the curtains open after use to let them dry faster
Keeping your shower curtains as dry as possible is one of the easiest ways that you can stop mold from growing in the first place.
A common mistake is to leave the shower curtains pulled together after you step out of the shower. This does not allow the water on the surface of the curtain to evaporate effectively.
Instead, leave the curtains open fully so their surface area is as large as possible, this will speed up the drying process.
Keep your bathroom dry
As stated, bathrooms are one of the highest humidity rooms in the house, but there is plenty you can do to mitigate this.
Installing an extractor fan to assist in removing humidity as it develops is a great first step, as is leaving doors and windows open after bathing to allow steam and humidity to exit.
Keep them clean
Giving your shower curtains a decent clean once or so a month will remove the buildup of skin cells and other organic materials that mold can use as food.
It is not always necessary to complete a deep clean with vinegar etc, simply wiping them down with an abrasive sponge and some warm water mixed with detergent will be sufficient.
When to throw away a moldy shower curtain
Whilst the cleaning methods described in this article are highly effective, there may still come a point where a shower curtain cannot be saved.
If the stains have become too ingrained, or mold was allowed to remain on the curtain for a long period of time, the staining and damage may be beyond repair. It is at this point that it may be best to throw away the stained shower curtain
Once you have purchased a new shower curtain, you can use the preventative measures recommended to make sure you do not have to worry about fixing this irritating problem again.
What kills mold on shower curtains?
Household bleach, distilled white vinegar, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide all have the ability to kill mold on shower curtains. A mixture of vinegar and baking soda is the most successful at killing mold and removing stains simultaneously. Patch tests should be carried out before using bleach.
What happens if you shower with a moldy shower curtain?
Showering with a moldy shower curtain is unlikely to cause ill health in a healthy person. You may find that it has a slimy texture and a distinctive musty smell that is unpleasant whilst showering. However, if you have allergies, it is still advisable to not shower with a moldy shower curtain.
How long does it take for mold to grow on a shower curtain?
Mold can grow exceptionally fast on a shower curtain because of the warm temperatures and high humidity levels. Under the correct circumstances, mold can begin to grow within 24 hours, and become well-established (highly visible) in a matter of one or two weeks.
Can you wash black mold out of a shower curtain?
Black mold or Stachybotry chartarum can be washed out of a shower curtain using household bleach. Make a solution of diluted bleach and spray it all over the curtain, leave for 20 minutes before rinsing under cold water. Use protective equipment whilst handling bleach products.
Shower curtains can easily become moldy due to the high humidity and warm temperatures in bathrooms. The mold strains rarely cause health complaints in healthy individuals but can cause issues for people with suppressed immune systems. Removing mold from fabric or plastic shower curtains can be easily achieved with baking soda and vinegar, bleach, or hydrogen peroxide.