Do you need a plastic liner with a fabric shower curtain? Yes, you do.
This is actually a rather common question these days since not everyone knows everything that they need to know about shower liners. Heck, there’s even some confusion as to what a shower curtain really is. Quite a lot of people confuse shower curtains with shower liners, and some people think they’re the same.
So, to cut through all possible misunderstandings, we’ve laid out a nice FAQ guide to help increase your understanding regarding shower curtains and liners.
What Is a Shower Curtain?
Let’s start with this one, since so many people seem to misunderstand what a shower curtain really is. Yes, it’s that plastic or fabric sheet that you hang over the shower section or bathtub, thereby separating the shower section from the rest of the bathroom.
It Makes the Bathroom Look Nicer
A shower curtain’s actual main function isn’t really about keeping the water inside the bathtub or shower section. Sure, the shower curtain can do that, too. But its main real function is mainly about aesthetics. It’s there to make the bathroom look nicer.
This is why you have such a wide range of options when it comes to the look of shower curtain. It’s a bit like buying a painting for the living room. It’s there to make things look more interesting. It does help when it also hides the bathtub, especially if the bathtub looks plain.
This is an additional benefit of having a shower curtain. Sometimes, taking a shower or a bath can make us feel a bit vulnerable, as if someone can peek in. That’s certainly true if someone manages to get inside the bathroom, which is always theoretically possible. The shower curtain adds another layer for the sake of privacy.
If you’re sharing a bathroom with a partner, then your partner can do their business (such as brush their teeth) while you still enjoy your privacy. Sometimes it’s just nice to enjoy a bit of relaxing solitude, especially with a calming bath.
The shower curtain can also reduce the level of sunlight that enters the shower or bathtub section, which is great if the sun shines directly on the shower area through the window. Again, the shower curtain adds another layer of privacy in case someone’s peeping through the window. Even if that’s extremely unlikely, the shoer curtain adds extra reassurance.
Keeping the Water In
This may also be an additional function of the shower curtain, but again, it’s not the main function. That’s because you usually hang the shower curtain on the outside of the shower or bathtub. Hanging the shower curtain outside the bathtub or shower also lets the water out, but that’s not the main function, remember.
If you hang the shower curtain inside the bathtub, then you’re not displaying the curtain properly to show off its design. And if you hang the shower curtain inside the bathtub to keep the water in, you also run the risk of developing mold on the curtain. This is almost always what happens when your shower curtain is made of plastic.
What is a Shower Liner?
The shower liner may have the same design as a shower curtain, and you also hang the shower liner around the bathtub and shower area. But they’re not the same at all.
It’s a Barrier for the Shower and Bathtub Water
This is actually the main job of the shower liner. While the shower curtain hangs outside the bath and shower area, the shower liner is inside. This is why shower liners generally have suction cups, magnets, or weights at the bottom, to secure them in place inside the bathtub or shower area.
It keeps the water in, and away from the bathroom floor outside the shower area. That makes things neater (and safer) in the bathroom.
It Prevents the Growth of Mold and Mildew
Shower liners (or at least the better ones) are specifically made to prevent mold and mildew growth. They’re specially treated with a special formula for this purpose. That means you won’t really have to clean the shower liner as frequently as you might have feared. This treatment also makes the shower liner last longer.
It Protects the Shower Curtain
With the shower liner in place, you really minimize the chances of getting the shower curtain dirty. The shower liner blocks the water and soap splashes away from the shower curtain.
This is great, especially when your shower curtain is made with fabric. Shower curtains are generally also more expensive than shower liners, so you don’t spend a lot of money frequently replacing your shower curtains.
You Get More Privacy
An additional layer for privacy certainly doesn’t hurt, and it’s more reassuring. this is especially true if the shower curtain isn’t solid, and it may be somewhat translucent. Also, if someone mistakenly opens the shower curtain, the shower liner is still there to partially maintain your modesty and privacy.
Tips on Picking Your Shower Curtain
Now that you know about the difference between the shower curtain and the shower liner, you hopefully realize by now that the ideal situation is to just get them both.
Here’s how you pick your shower curtain:
Pick the Fabric Shower Curtain
You don’t have to pick the plastic version, because keeping the water inside the shower and bathtub area isn’t its main job. The shower curtain’s main purpose is to look pretty while helping to maintain your privacy. And that’s best done with the fabric.
The plastic shower curtains don’t really look as good as the fabric ones. Plastic curtains usually look cheap and ugly, when compared to their fabric counterparts.
If you’re getting a shower curtain for your own private bathroom, then you need something that you consider great-looking. And there’s plenty of visual options to pick from. You can go with intriguing patterns and oversize graphics. You can even find shower curtains featuring famous paintings, like the “Starry Night” curtain with that painting by Van Gogh.
The ones for kids can be really fun, and you don’t have to limit your choices to shower curtains featuring their favorite cartoon characters. You can try curtains with images of dinosaurs.
Heck, you can go with Star Wars shower curtains. There’s one with Darth Vader looking like he’s peeking out of the shower. Or you might like the image of Han Sole—frozen in carbonite!
Even a plain white shower curtain can look great, especially for the guest bathroom. It doesn’t have any image that may offend a guest, or make them think that you’re cheesy. It just looks clean, which is always a good image for a bathroom.
It’s Not Just about the Graphic
It’s also about the texture. A shower curtain doesn’t have to be plain and 2D. It can feature embroidery, ribbons, or even a simple trim. You may also want a bit of fringe at the bottom. It’s playful yet somehow sophisticated.
Just make sure that you go with store-bought curtain options, instead of custom jobs. That way, you’re sure that they’re meant to be washed and dried just like the rest of your laundry.
Get the Right Size
Obviously, you’ll want something that’s not too small. If it’s not wide enough or too short, then it doesn’t look right. You should measure your shower area dimensions first to make sure the curtain you buy is big enough for it.
But if the curtain is a bit bigger, that’s alright, too. There may be a bit of bunching at the ends, but it should still look nice.
Go with Double Hooks
This is the most convenient option, as that way you have hooks ready for the liner as well. The liners inside, while the curtain hangs outside.
As for the hooks, go with stainless steel versions. You can even match the shower rings to the other finishes in the bathroom.
You can also try a hookless shower curtain. This will have rings with breaks in them, so you can easily slip each ring over the bar. The liner also snaps in and out for easier cleaning.
Tips on Picking the Shower Liner
Now that you have the shower curtain, go pick the shower liner.
Go with the PEVA or EVA Shower Liner
PEVA stands for polyethylene vinyl acetate. It’s basically nontoxic vinyl. It doesn’t have the chlorine molecule that makes vinyl smell so wrong.
EVA stands for ethylene vinyl acetate, which also an extremely safe type of plastic. They’re even widely accepted as safe enough for use in making teethers, as they’re BPA-free.
Either way, get one of these types of shower liners and you’re good. They’re eco-friendly, smell great, and even have antimicrobial properties. And since they’re types of plastics, they’re extremely water-resistant.
The PEVA/EVA shower liners are certainly better than the regular PVC (vinyl) liners. Sure, these PVC liners are also water-resistant. They’re also cheap, although you get less protection the cheaper you pay.
The main problem with the PVC liners is that they have this strong, unpleasant smell. These are the fumes that come from the rather toxic materials used to make the liner.
What about fabric liners? Well, they can look great, sure. But that’s not really the job of the liner, since you already have the curtain outside. It’s also hard to keep the fabric clean, as they don’t really prevent the growth of mold and mildew.
Find Something Attractive
A clear PEVA/EVA is great, if you can easily see through it so you can enjoy the look of the shower curtain. But you can always find a shower liner featuring nice colors, patterns, or even images as well.
Get the Secure Types
These will have something to secure the bottom in place. This can be suction cups, weights, or magnets.
Are fabric shower liners waterproof?
For the most part, they’re water-resistant. Some are extremely water-resistant, but rarely (if ever) are they totally waterproof.
How do you protect the shower liner from mold?
Your shower liner will still be at risk from mold, even if it’s waterproof, mildew-resistant, and antimicrobial.
Here are some things you should do:
- After you shower or take a bath, open the window or fan fully for better ventilation.
- You can also mop the standing water after the bath.
- Clean and air dry the liner regularly.
How often should you clean the liner?
Clean it once a week. Wet a sponge with a bleach solution, and then wipe the liner surface from top to bottom. Then dry it using a clean cloth.
You should also air dry the liner maybe once a month.
How do you clean a fabric shower liner?
You can just toss it in the wash, like the rest of the laundry. The main problem here is that this may not be enough to deal with the mildew.
- For light stains, add ½ cup of baking soda to the detergent, then follow that with ½ cup of vinegar for the rinse cycle.
- For stubborn stains, add ½ cup of bleach to the detergent.
It’s not as easy to clean fabric liners, since they become so icky with mold and mildew more easily. This is why we recommend the PEVA/EVA instead.
How long will the shower liner last?
With proper maintenance, the shower liner should last for about 6 months or so. But that requires adequate ventilation. Without proper ventilation, you may have to replace the shower liner more frequently.
Of course, you can bypass this issue altogether with glass shower doors. But that’s a more expensive option, and shower curtains offer a wider range of looks.
Ideally, you get a great-looking fabric shower curtain, just to make the bathroom a lot more attractive. The look can be fun, which is great for kids. Or it can be soothing, which is better when you like to spend time relaxing in the tub.
Then you get a shower liner. Do you need a plastic liner with a fabric shower curtain? In practical terms, absolutely. The shower liner’s job is to keep the water within the shower or bathtub area.
Each one does its job, and everything’s the way it ought to be. Then you can relax while in the bathroom, and that’s how it ought to be, too!