5 Things to Consider Before Getting a Fabric Shower Curtain

fabric shower curtain hanging on wood rings

Do I need a vinyl liner with my fabric shower curtain or not? That's just one of the five things you might want to consider when purchasing a fabric shower curtain.

1. Do I Need to Use a Vinyl Liner with My Fabric Curtain?

Mold and mildew feed on soap scum. If your fabric is one that you can easily wash, such as nylon, organic cotton, or a wash-and-wear fabric, you won't need a liner if you wash your curtain regularly. Heavier fabrics, fabrics that require dry cleaning, brocades, velvets, and fabric with embellishments or non-washable decorative attachments should be used with a vinyl liner.

2. What Kind of Fabric Should I Use?

Fabric shower curtains come in a wide range of materials. Nylon, organic cotton, polyesters, and even canvas curtains are wonderful alternatives to vinyl. Many traditional or formal bathroom owners like velvet, brocades, and heavy ornate fabric must be dry-cleaned, not washed. What kind of fabric will you be using, washable or dry cleaned?

3. How Much Use Will This Curtain Receive in a Week?

If your shower gets a lot of use, it won't get much time to dry thoroughly between uses. Vinyl, or a vinyl liner, may be a better selection. Since soap scum, not just moisture, is the issue with all curtains, consider how much use and how much soap and water contact your curtain will receive and if the fabric is washable or must be dry-cleaned.

4. How Often Do I Want to Clean It?

Taking fabric curtains down and replacing them each time you clean them is a labor-intensive task. Fabric curtains must generally be washed once a week, while vinyl can often be wiped down or washed once a month. Heavier fabrics, such as velvets and brocades, may need to be dry-cleaned rather than washed. Many homeowners find when paired with vinyl, plastic, or Ecoprene vinyl, the maintenance is no greater than that of a simple vinyl liner.

5. Do I Want Low Maintenance or Better Looks?

Consider how often you plan to wash the curtains, whether you want to match your bathroom decor, and whether you're willing to install heavier-duty rods, including a rod for a vinyl or plastic curtain liner. Fabric can't just be wiped down but must be taken down and cleaned. The extra liner and rod can make a fabric shower curtain more labor-intensive to put up, take down, and clean.

Pros of Fabric Shower Curtains

Fabric comes in more designs, colors, and weights than vinyl, plastic, or Ecoprene vinyl.

Fabric looks richer, more elegant, and plush.

More and more fabrics (polyesters and cotton) are washable.

Fabric curtains are designed to be tied back, which makes them look better and hang better.

Easier to match paint, wallpaper, and shower decor with fabric than plastic or vinyl.

Cons of Fabric Shower Curtains

Fabric is more expensive than vinyl, plastic, or Ecoprene vinyl.

Fabric curtains are heavier and may require additional hardware and sturdier, permanently installed (not spring-loaded) curtain rods.

Mold and mildew build up quickly on fabric.

Fabric is a high-maintenance choice for shower curtains.

You can't just wipe down fabric for cleaning.