Who would have thought that shower curtains contain and emit toxins into our homes?! Keep reading to learn how to find a non-toxic shower curtain (and learn about the chemicals you should avoid).
Have you ever purchased a new shower curtain or liner and when you unfold it you get a whiff of plastic? What about when you are already in the shower and you smell something odd? It’s might be from your toxic shower curtain!
As crazy as that sounds, many shower curtains that are available in stores and online are filled with toxic chemicals and also continuously release volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I could be compensated if you decide to make a purchase. You can read my full disclosure here.
Toxic Materials to Avoid When Buying a Shower Curtain
PVC. PVC stands for Polyvinyl chloride and is widely known as the worst plastic on the market. In fact, it’s earned the name “The Poison Plastic.” The WHO’s cancer research center even says it’s a carcinogen.
As a result of the heat and moisture in the bathroom, the plastic liner starts breaking down. This breakdown ultimately emits more toxins into your home.
Let’s not forget about the heavy metals and dioxins that are found in PVC as well!
Phthalates. This is a plasticizer that makes harder plastic more flexible and softer. This chemical, just like PVC, is very toxic and can lead to serious health issues, including fertility problems.
Beware! Phthalates are also hidden in lots of other products like cosmetics and lotions.
Safer Materials Used in Non-Toxic Shower Curtains
Hemp shower curtains are great when you want something that’s more natural. They’re initially more expensive, but they last forever!
Hemp curtains are naturally resistant to mold and mildew, and the fibers are extremely durable.
To keep your curtain fresh, toss it in the wash once a month and allow it to dry outside or dry on low heat.
Best Hemp Shower Curtains
Our favorite hemp shower curtain is manufactured in the US by Bean Products, which has been around since the 80s! They are crazy passionate about eco-friendly products and saving the planet. They also offer other varieties of natural shower curtains including cotton blends, so be careful when you are checking out that you are choosing the hemp curtain versus the other materials.
When you purchase the curtain you will also receive 12 nickel-plated grommets that are rustproof, or you can use your own if you want something more decorative!
Rawganique’s shower curtain is made of 100% organic hemp and looks beautiful in the bathroom. (Actually, it looks great as a room divider too.) It comes in 16 colors to match your room’s aesthetic, and the macrame rings are handmade – so luxe! Plus, it’s entirely toxin-free and has no nasty ‘forever chemicals’ like PFAS.
This one is a little pricier than the one from Bean Products above, which is why it’s not my top pick, but if you have a little extra money to spend, you won’t be disappointed.
Cotton and Linen
This is another toxic-free option that is made from natural fibers, and you can get it in just about any color your heart desires!
The major downside to using cotton or linen shower curtains is the fact that they do not repel water well so you are at an increased risk for mold and mildew. If you have good bathroom ventilation and live in a drier climate, it will help offset some of this.
Best Cotton & Linen Non-Toxic Shower Curtains
Transform your bathroom into a relaxing spa oasis with Coyuchi’s Organic Waffle Shower Curtain! It’s crafted from 100% GOTS-certified organic Turkish cotton and will definitely give your bathroom a luxe feel. Coyuchi has been in the sustainability game for a long time – 30 years. And if you ever try any of their products you’ll definitely come to love them as much as I do. (If you like their non-toxic shower curtain, your little one will love their organic crib sheets too.)
Here’s another beautiful white shower curtain that will give your bathroom major spa vibes. I really love the look of the linen one, but the brand also offers an organic cotton non-toxic shower curtain and a slightly less basic organic pom-pom shower curtain. With a commitment to creating high-quality products that enhance both the home and the environment, Parachute focuses on quality, thoughtful design, and social responsibility.
If you’re on a budget, and you simply can’t afford an organic cotton or hemp shower curtain (I’ve been there!), PEVA or EVA may be an okay option. These shower curtains are made from polyethylene vinyl acetate (PEVA) and/or ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA). They’re less expensive than organic cotton and hemp, and they’re a slightly better option when compared to PVC. That being said, they still release some volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and this study showed that the material may still be harmful to humans. That’s why PEVA is at the bottom of my suggestions.
I know how expensive the non-toxic lifestyle can be though, so I always want to provide my readers with some budget-friendly alternatives. Something you can use at least for a little while.
Thankfully, PEVA is chlorine-free (chlorine is the reason for the smell from PVC liners), and also has antimicrobial properties.
If you want to try out a PEVA shower curtain, I found a good one on Amazon. You can check it out here.
This non-toxic shower curtain contains magnets on the bottom to keep it in place, and it comes with 12 rust-proof metal grommets that fit any other decorative hooks.
Materials to Avoid When Looking for Non-Toxic Shower Curtains
Nylon is considered the in-between option when shopping for non-toxic shower curtains. It doesn’t absorb water like cotton and linen but isn’t entirely waterproof either. I don’t generally recommend nylon materials, though (in anything).
Why? Well, unfortunately, nylon is not very eco-friendly.
When nylon is fabricated, the manufacturing plants release VOCs into the environment, which can be hazardous to humans when inhaled. On top of that, nylon takes a long time to decompose and is made from non-renewable resources, making it unsustainable for prolonged use.
Shower curtains are most commonly made of polyester, which is a synthetic fabric made from petroleum-based and plastic. And even though they’re affordable and easy to purchase just about anywhere you go, they can also harm the environment. Polyester does not biodegrade and takes up space in landfills for centuries.
And we don’t just have to talk about the environmental impact of polyester. Shower curtains made from polyester don’t always stand up to repeated exposure to moisture and humidity. Over time they can become mildewy, stained, or develop an unpleasant odor.
How to Clean Your Shower Curtain
Cleaning your shower curtain can be super easy if you stay on top of it! Simply remove the curtain rings, spot treat any mildew or visible stains, then toss it in the wash! You can dry on low heat or hang to dry.
Be careful when drying cotton and linen curtains though because they have the tendency to shrink!
Speaking of cleaning, here’s my review of Norwex (& 5 other options)!
Just a tip, soaps and body wash containing toxins often leave more scum behind. If you want to get ahead of the mildew, check out our favorite organic body washes to try this year.
We hope this non-toxic shower curtain guide makes your purchase much easier! Let us know in the comments which curtain you chose and why!