While shower curtains are found in many households around the world, according to the Center for Health, Environment & Justice, some of them are quietly releasing chemicals into the air that could be harmful to our health.
Shower curtains that contain PVC have been found to release over 100 different volatile organic compounds into the air. These are chemicals that have been linked to damage to the central nervous system among other health impacts, according to the EPA.
Shower curtains that contain PVC or other types of plastic aren’t just bad for your health, they’re bad for the environment, too, considering the vast array of environmental impacts that come from plastic products (and because they aren’t recyclable).
So if you want to protect your health and the environment, you’ll want to opt for a plastic-free shower curtain. And, the good news is that you have several different options based on your budget and personal tastes.
This article may contain compensated/affiliate links. See our full disclosure here.
Plastic Free Shower Curtain Options
A non-plastic shower curtain may sound like a strange concept at first, but in practice, there are plenty of alternatives that keep the water where it’s supposed to be – and look a whole lot better while doing so!
Check out some of our preferred zero waste shower curtain options below.
HEMP SHOWER CURTAINS
If you want a truly zero waste shower curtain, you’ll want to opt for one made from natural fibers like hemp, cotton, or linen.
Hemp is one of the most sustainable fabrics out there, due to the plant returning a high volume of nutrients to the soil when grown, and because it requires a lot less water to grow compared to fibers like cotton.
Hemp shower curtains aren’t super easy to find in online stores (see below on where to buy), and they can be more expensive than traditional plastic shower curtains. But, they are biodegradable, don’t emit toxic chemicals, and are mold and bacteria resistant.
They can also be machine washed regularly to stay fresh, and you don’t need a shower curtain liner due to their heavy weight.
Hemp Shower Curtain from Bean Products
This hemp shower curtain from Bean Products dries quickly, is leakproof, and the heavy fabric doesn’t billow in the shower.
Made in America, Bean Products shower curtains are durable, quality items that you’ll be proud to hang in your bathroom.
While there aren’t any other colors available in the pure hemp version (it’s not dyed), if you want a lighter color you could opt for the hemp & cotton blend shower curtain instead.
LINEN SHOWER CURTAINS
Like hemp and cotton, linen is a natural fiber that is biodegradable and free of toxic chemicals, making it a good zero waste, plastic-free, non-toxic shower curtain option. Linen curtains work similar to that of a cotton and hemp curtain and can also be on the pricier end.
However, they can sometimes be less water-repellent than cotton and hemp varieties, so it’s extra important to make sure that after each use, excess water is squeezed out of the curtain and it’s in a well-ventilated bathroom with plenty of space to fully dry between uses.
You can also opt to buy them with a liner, preferably a liner made with PEVA, if you are concerned about water soaking through the curtain.
Pure White Linen Shower Curtain from Parachute
This luxurious linen shower curtain from Parachute is medium-light weight and has a slightly textured feel.
Available in pure white or chambray grey, it offers a relaxed yet refined look.
Made from 100% European flax and handcrafted in Portugal, it’s easy to care for and long-lasting.
Beautiful Linen Shower Curtain from Echelon Home
This 100% linen shower curtain from Echelon Home is created from Belgian flax.
Available in white, natural linen, or silver, it features a buttonhole style top to hang on hooks.
Machine washable, and long-lasting, this makes an excellent choice for an affordable zero waste shower curtain.
Natural Linen Shower Curtain from Superior Custom Linens
Available in a myriad of size and color options, these linen shower curtains from Superior Custom Linens are ideal if you’re looking for a custom fit.
Made from 100% prewashed and softened linen grown in France, these shower curtains are handmade in the United States.
Easy drying and machine washable, you can purchase a separate cotton liner if desired.
COTTON SHOWER CURTAINS
Cotton is another natural fiber option for a plastic free shower curtain. They are biodegradable at end of life and don’t emit toxic chemicals. But cotton is often grown with pesticides and fertilizers and large quantities of water, making them generally a less sustainable option than hemp.
Some varieties, like this one from YoKii Store, are made with organic cotton and naturally repel water, so you don’t need a liner. Like hemp shower curtains, organic cotton shower curtains generally are more expensive than plastic, so they may not be an option if you’re on a tight budget.
Organic Cotton Shower Curtain from Yokii Store
Organic cotton always trumps regular cotton in terms of environmental impact, making this sustainable shower curtain from Yokii an excellent choice.
The bottom hem has been weighted to keep it from billowing, and it’s easy to care for. Choose from a thin or thick stripe to match your decor.
Organic Cotton Shower Curtain from Life Kind
This organic cotton shower curtain from Life Kind is GOTS certified for your health. Available with either brass or chrome grommets, this non-toxic shower curtain repels water naturally.
Handmade in the USA, you won’t need a plastic liner when using this eco-friendly shower curtain.
Turkish Cotton Shower Curtain from Parachute
This delightful plastic-free shower curtain from Parachute is made from 100% Turkish cotton.
It’s a medium-weight curtain that can be thrown in with your usual laundry and line dried.
Affordable Cotton Shower Curtain from mDesign Store
While it’s not made from organic materials, this cotton waffle shower curtain from mDesign Store represents a more sustainable shower curtain alternative for those on a budget.
Available in 6 different colors, and various sizes, there’s one to suit every shower. It’ll instantly add an element of luxury to your bathroom too!
NON-TOXIC VINYL SHOWER CURTAINS
Vinyl curtains aren’t plastic free, nor are they zero waste. However, they are a lot more affordable than natural fiber options and can still keep dangerous toxins out of your home.
Curtains made with PEVA, a type of vinyl, are a good option because of their affordability, lack of toxins, and ability to biodegrade at end-of-life. They are also machine washable, and will last longer than a typical plastic shower curtain.
However, it’s important to note that some research suggests that PEVA can be harmful to some organisms, so environmentally speaking, natural fibers are still your best option if you want a fully eco-friendly shower curtain.
DeLaine’s Heavy Duty PEVA Curtain Liner
Simple, affordable, and clean looking, this PEVA shower curtain from DeLaine ticks all the right boxes.
It’s weighted to prevent billowing in your shower, and can be used alone or alongside your linen or cotton shower curtain.
Recycled PEVA Shower Curtain from Bed Bath & Beyond
Made from 30% recycled PEVA, this durable shower curtain from Bed Bath & Beyond makes a slightly more eco-friendly option than most in this category.
A medium-weighted hem, and wipe clean surface make it a good choice for people with kids, or anyone who needs to find a budget-friendly yet still healthy shower curtain.
PEVA Shower Curtain from Overstock
This colorful shower curtain from Overstock is waterproof and mold-proof.
At 70″ by 72″ it’s designed to fit most bathrooms, and there are other colorways and patterns available to suit your tastes.
If you don’t need the privacy of a shower curtain and are willing to make a sleek investment for your bathroom, consider a glass shower screen that you install in place of a shower curtain. Glass is infinitely recyclable, relatively easy to clean, and won’t emit toxic chemicals into your bathroom.
Shower screens may not be an option if you live in an apartment with certain installation restrictions, but if you own a home, these may be a good option- both aesthetically and environmentally.
What About Shower Curtain Liners?
Despite being popular, shower curtain liners often aren’t necessary. As long as you take good care of your curtain, buy a high-quality one so it doesn’t leak, and let it dry between uses, you don’t really need a liner.
However, if you aren’t fully comfortable with using a curtain without one or don’t think your bathroom is well ventilated enough to keep your fabric curtains dry, consider using a PEVA curtain as your liner.
These are made with a lot less chemicals than traditional plastic liners, are biodegradable, and can still keep the water off your bathroom floor. They are also machine washable, so you can keep them longer than you would a traditional plastic liner.
Shower Curtain Care
No matter which shower curtain option you choose, you’re probably going to have to contend with mold and/or bacteria at some point.
However, there are steps you can take to keep the mold at bay so you can keep your plastic-free shower curtain fresh, clean, and long-lasting.
- Keep your bathroom well ventilated
- If you have a fabric shower curtain, machine wash it with your weekly load of laundry
- Squeeze excess water out of the shower curtain after use
- Hang the shower curtain over the bottom of the shower after use to ensure it dries
- Optional: rub beeswax or linseed oil on the shower curtain to increase how water-resistant it is
Whether you want to save the earth or simply detox your home, swapping to a zero waste shower curtain can be a good, simple place to start. And if you can’t afford to make the investment in a new curtain, you can always try finding one at your local thrift store, or you can try your hand at making your own with a used bed sheet and some linseed oil!
Interested in sustainable curtain options for other areas of your home? Be sure to read our article on eco-friendly curtains.