Can You Recycle Plastic Shower Curtains?

In this short report we will answer the question “can you recycle plastic shower curtains?” by highlighting its material composition and how each type of shower curtain can be recycled or reused. We will also know different types of plant based materials used for making shower curtains and what are the benefits it provides for a healthy environment.

What are shower curtains made of?

Shower curtains are not used all over the world. There are countries where a limited number of shower curtains are used such as Japan, India, Italy etc. Some bathrooms use glass doors that cover the tub and give the necessary privacy. However, a vast majority of people in the UK and US have shower curtains in their bathroom. 

Shower curtains have a practical use as water from the tub will not splash outside the tub and keep the bathroom clean. Owing to its high demand for each household, shower curtains are made in bulk using polyvinyl chloride (PVC) which is a tough and chemically resistant synthetic resin. This synthetic resin is also used for making pipes, flooring, and sheeting.

PVC material has many advantages such as its durability, flexibility, water resistance, and transparency that makes it dominant in many industrial and warehouse applications. However, when it comes to its effect on our environment, these have a negative side. PVC plastic contains a number of toxic chemicals such as the volatile organic compounds that cause respiratory ailment and damage to the central nervous system. 

Exposure to such chemicals also causes skin irritation and breathing problems. Our environment lovers have a solution to overcome this. With few studies and research many eco-friendly alternatives to PVC have been invented. Among them are PEVA, hemp, and flax seed shower curtains. 

PEVA was developed to negate the toxic effects caused by PVC. They have many characteristics that deem it useful for making shower curtains. These do not leach out chemical toxins and are safe to use in our house. 

However, these are not easily biodegradable, hence experts have come up with a more efficient solution, that is, to use plant based hemp and flax material to make shower curtains. These have all the properties of a shower curtain except that it is 100% biodegradable and releases no toxin. 

Cotton is another material that is very efficient and biodegradable and can be used to make shower curtains. These can be reused with regular washing using bleach or vinegar until it’s worn out. With many such eco-friendly materials available in stores, one can choose a safe and healthy option. 

So relax and take a bath to your heart’s content with a biodegradable shower curtain, but remember not to waste water.

Photo Courtesy: iStock. Plastic shower curtain

Can you recycle plastic shower curtains?

Plastic shower curtain or plastic curtain liner are made from polyvinyl chloride that falls in the category of #3 plastics and are not recyclable with other plastic materials. This is because they have high chlorine content, about 56%, and other chemicals that are very toxic to the environment. However, in some industries, PVC products are recycled using mechanical or feedstock recycling. 

For this, all PVC products have to be separated from other plastic products. Though we can recycle with this process, there seems to be a lot of issues as PVC contains different compositions of chemicals which vary based on its use. When different PVC products are recycled the composition of the end product is difficult to predict and we may end up producing a product that does not meet the standard.

As discussed early, an eco-friendly shower curtain can be used as a better alternative to the PVC curtains. Many plant based shower curtains are available in the market that are 100% biodegradable and have all necessary basic features of a shower curtain.

Photo Courtesy: iStock. PEVA material on hand

How to dispose of plastic shower curtains?

Once you buy a plastic shower curtain there is nothing that can be done other than toss it in the garbage bin. This is because these plastic shower curtains are non recyclable and have to be disposed of in the landfill. Remember the list of toxins that it leaches out to the environment, that is what we get from its use – not to mention the amount you spend on it. 

However, if you already have the plastic shower curtain, then instead of tossing it in the garbage every month, why not wash it with your regular clothes? Adding some vinegar or bleach will do even more good to your showers curtain. PVC plastics are very durable and last for at least 30 years. So your curtains just need a little wash and you are good with it for a long time.

There are also biodegradable, compostable, and eco-friendly materials that can replace PVC in many ways. These materials can be made durable, non wettable, and economical for your regular use without worrying about its cause to the environment.


In this short report we have discussed the topic “can you recycle plastic shower curtains?” by knowing its material composition, its recyclability and ways to dispose or reuse it. We have also discussed several biodegradable options for shower curtains that provide an eco-friendly material for your daily use.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs): Can you recycle plastic shower curtains?

Can PEVA shower curtains be recycled?

PEVA stands for polyethylene vinyl acetate and EVA for ethylene vinyl acetate. These are an eco-friendly alternative to the current polyethylene curtain material for bathrooms as they do not contain the toxic element chlorine and have significantly less volatile organic compounds. Even more, they have antimicrobial properties which prevent them from developing mold and bacteria with its regular use.

PEVA is completely recyclable and it can go with the other plastic materials sent for recycling where it can be broken down to make another material. PEVA materials have long lifespans and are very durable which makes it last longer and you don’t have to send it to recycling very often.

What are clear plastic shower curtains made of?

Clear plastic curtains are made of polyvinyl chloride that gives the necessary rigidity to the curtains. Additives such as phthalates are added to polyvinyl chlorides to improve certain characteristics such as transparency, flexibility, and durability. However, owing to the negative effects of phthalates to humans, these are currently replaced with non-phthalate materials that come with many advantages such as strength and durability, are economical and produce no side effects.

Is a fabric or plastic shower curtain better?

Fabric in general has the properties like plastic as these are made of polyester or nylon. These Are synthetic materials and equally affect our environment. However, one good thing about fabric is that it does not leach chemicals like most plastics do.

The excellent choice of material for a shower curtain  is cotton. Cotton is more durable and easy to wash, but it needs washing every month which is not tedious compared to the benefits it comes with.

How do you clean plastic shower curtains?

The main issue with the plastic shower curtain is the formation of mold and bacteria with its regular use. The sticking of dirt entrapped soapy solution is another concern to deal with. The more these things stay on it the more is the chance that you may get sick.

There are simple and effective methods by which you can clean the shower curtains. Once in a month, the curtain liner can be washed with your regular laundry and allowed to dry in air. Using bleach or vinegar during the rinsing cycle will decontaminate the shower curtain and keep you safe. 

How often do you change your shower curtain?

According to health experts, it is advised to change the shower curtain every six months due to the risk involving mold and mildew formation on the curtain. However, if proper care is taken to clean the shower curtain regularly and with thorough drying, the curtain can be used as long as it lasts. Washing the curtain once in a month will do the trick. 

With the numerous causes of pollution covering the world, plastic pollution is at present the problematic one. Thus, reusing and repurposing plastic based shower curtains is the better solution for a healthy environment.

How do you clean a hemp shower curtain?

Hemp and flax shower curtain are a perfect solution for an eco-friendly product. Choosing hemp and flax over polyvinyl chloride shower liners not only provides a toxic free product but also a more durable, water resistant, and odor resistant shower curtain. As these are made from naturally available plant based materials, they are completely biodegradable and whenever you need to trash one just put its with your usual garbage. 

How do shower curtains get dirty?

Shower curtains get dirty with its regular use. The more the family members, the more chances are that your curtain does not dry up. With heat and moisture still on the curtain there is a high chance that mold and mildew will thrive. Further the more you enjoy shower the more soapy solution that gets on it and at places that are hard to reach such as corners and edges. 

It is also a tedious process to clean the curtain every time you take a bath and with the fungus sticking on your shower curtain you are easy to fall sick. There are different kinds of bacteria and mold that develop on the curtain but the most common is the one that causes body order.


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