Which Bathroom Shower Curtain Material is The Best? Part 2
July 25, 2015
In Part I of our discussion, we took a look at the various fabric shower curtains and the pros and cons of the most popular selections. In Part II of this discussion we are going to look at some of the plastic shower curtains and their advantages and disadvantages. Let’s begin…
Vinyl Shower Curtains
I am sure that many of you are aware of the controversy that has come up regarding the use of vinyl shower curtains in the home. This is definitely not on any of the lists of Eco Friendly Products. The problem is centered on PVC, also known as “Polyvinyl chloride”. The awful smell that comes out when you first open the package containing the PVC Vinyl, is very strong. This is due to the compounds that are used in the manufacturing of this particular product, particularly phthalates.
Phthalates seem to be the worst culprits and are used in more products than you could probably realize. This chemical is responsible for making plastics softer, so that they become more flexible. This is the main chemical that is bringing concern about the vinyl shower curtains. It is believed that it is one of the strongest Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) found in Vinyl.
Some people think that it’s much ado about nothing, thinking that the excitement is over-exaggerated. Considering that phthalates are directly pumped into our bloodstream via the medical UV bags, and are found in so many products, having a vinyl shower curtain is not going to make a big difference. Considering the alternatives, with regards to shower curtains, they would rather purchase something they know works. Others, of course, feel differently. They feel that the less phthalates in the home, the better it is for us. Really, it is a decision that only you can make.
Because vinyl shower curtains are the best when it comes to repelling water and keeping it in the tub, many manufacturers are now offering vinyl alternatives such as PEVA and EVA.
PEVA Shower Curtains
PEVA stands for polyethylene vinyl acetate (PVA). PEVA shower curtains do not contain the chlorinated molecules like PVC’s, found in the older vinyl shower curtains, and therefore this makes it a much safer choice when it comes to choosing a plastic shower curtain. Because PEVA is non-chlorinated this is the perfect option and considered environmentally friendly.
EVA Shower Curtains
A lot of people want to know what the difference is between EVA Shower Curtains and PEVA Shower Curtains. EVA stands for Ethylene vinyl acetate. Neither of these plastics contain the toxic PVC (Polyvinyl chloride) found in the old vinyl shower curtains. Although these plastic shower curtains are made from petroleum they have a very low toxicity level. Both of these are considered vinyl shower curtains although some prefer to call them plastic, so as not to get confused with the old PVC shower curtains.
The Pros of Vinyl Shower Curtains
- Vinyl Shower Curtains are Generally Thick, and Durable
- The Material is Soft and Pleasant to Touch
- They are Long Lasting
- They Come in A Variety of Colors and Patterns Including Clear and Opaque
- Their Color Doesn’t Fade
- They are NOT Prone to Mold or Mildew
- They are Easy to Clean
- They are Very Low Maintenance
- They are Inexpensive Shower Curtains
- They Can Be Used As a Shower Curtain or a Shower Curtain Liner
- Their Strength Stops Water In The Shower From Leaking Out Onto the Floor
- Because They Repel Water, They Protect Your Outer Curtain if You Are Using One
- Because of Their Durability and Strong Colors and Patterns They Are Perfect For a Kid’s Shower Curtain (or for those who are young at heart)
- The Moisture From the Bath/Shower Will Not Affect the Vinyl
- Vinyl Shower Curtains Come in a Large Variety of Sizes. More Than Any Other Shower Curtain (You can also cut them with a good pair of scissors if you need them shorter or narrower…Think RV Stalls.)
- Purchase Vinyl Shower Curtains That Have Reinforced Rivets, or Grommets Along the Top. These Will Help Your Shower Curtain To Last Longer
- They Contain Less VOC’s Than PVC Shower Curtains And Therefore Have Less Harmful Off-Gassing
- Plastic Shower Curtains Make Great Shower Curtain Liners Because They Form a Great Barrier For the Water to Bounce Off of.
- They Have No Known Association With Any Health Problems
- Vinyl Shower Curtains Are Available in Different Thickness, Known as Gauges. The Thicker Gauges Will Not Blow in the Tub as readily as the Thinner Ones.
The Cons of Vinyl Shower Curtains
- If You Do Not Purchase Them With Reinforced Grommets They May Tear Easily
- Because They Are Made With Petrochemicals Some Consider Them Only Semi-Green
Shower Curtain Liners
Throughout our discussion of Shower Curtain Materials, we have often mentioned the need for a shower curtain liner. Now that we have come near the end of our discussion, I am sure you now understand our reasoning for suggesting shower curtain liners.
Many people still prefer to try and find fabric shower curtain liners rather than use vinyl, but as you have seen, they do not do the job properly and you may end up spending money you wish you hadn’t.
We realize that there are people on the Internet that say that they don’t have a problem not using a vinyl shower curtain liner, but if you look more closely, you will find many who have found out the hard way just how difficult it is to shower with a fabric shower curtain liner. It really depends upon which shower head you are using.
A Word About Shower Heads
Fabric Shower Curtain Liners will probably work well if you are only using a water saving shower head, or one of the newer rainfall shower heads that gently sprinkle the water. But most people we know, prefer to have a strong, pulsating stream coming out of their shower head, like you can find with high pressure shower heads. Many like to use hand held shower heads to get closer to their scalp for a good washing. In cases where the water is coming out strongly it will go through your fabric shower curtain liners or shower curtains.
Shower Curtain Effect
(Shower Curtain Blow Ins)
Another problem with fabric shower curtain liners is that they tend to blow into the tub much more readily than vinyl shower curtain liners. If you have ever experienced this blow in effect, you will know how frustrating it can be, especially if you have soap in your eyes when it happens. We realize this can happen with vinyl shower curtain liners also, but if you purchase the thicker gauge liners it will help. The weight will help to keep the liner down instead of blowing around.
Many Shower Curtain Liners can be purchased with magnets on the bottom, which will help the liner cling more readily to the tub rather than your body.
We have heard that if you leave a small opening at the back of the shower, this will allow more air to circulate which may lessen the effect of blow in. Just be careful that it is not open too much as to let water out onto the floor.
Other people have suggested using weights to anchor the shower curtain liner around the tub. They usually use things like shampoo or body soaps to hold things down. This might be something you could try.
Another trick is to open the window and turn on the fan to allow ventilation into the room while you shower. This should help immensely.
Should I Keep My Shower Curtain Open or Closed?
This is a question that is asked often, and the answer is simple. A Shower Curtain is usually purchased as a decorative accent to the bathroom. Although it serves as a necessary barrier for the water, it also has this decorative element to it.
Add to this, the fact that the shower curtain may get a little wet when using the shower and you will have the answer.
If you leave the shower curtain open when it is wet, the moisture will tend to stay longer within the folds that are made by closing it. This will cause more moisture in the bathroom as well as attract mildew to form. By leaving your shower curtain closed after the shower you allow the curtain to dry more quickly and have the added benefit of looking at your lovely bathroom the way you designed it to be.
Which Bathroom Shower Curtain Material is The Best? Part I
July 25, 2015
When it comes to choosing a new bathroom shower curtain, finding the right one can often become a challenge. Not only do you have to consider the bathroom theme ideas that you want to create, you must further decide which shower curtain material will suit your needs and budget. You will also have to consider whether you want to use a shower curtain liner, which we strongly suggest that you purchase.
The Purpose of Your Shower Curtain
Shower Curtains are a basic necessity unless you
choose to go with Shower Screens. The advantage of using a shower curtain is that it can define the theme of your bathroom decor especially if they are the focal point when entering your bathroom.
Shower curtains come in a variety of colors, sizes and styles which will make it easy to coordinate with other bathroom accessories, no matter what bathroom decor theme you are going for.
Once you have decided on which shower curtain material to use, and your bathroom decor theme, then it is only necessary to make sure that your shower curtain will fulfill its purpose:
- You Want Your Shower Curtain to Provide You With Some Privacy
- You Want Your Shower Curtain To Keep Water Off Of The Floor
- You Want Your Shower Curtain To Be Easy To Care For
Shower Curtain Material
There are many different types of material that can be used for shower curtains. Your choice will be dependent on your budget and the kind of shower curtain arrangement that you want.
The majority of people prefer to have a two part system with the shower curtain on the outside of the tub and a shower curtain liner on the inside.
Using this type of system allows you to have many more choices in your shower curtain material. However, many materials will not keep the water off of your floor and that will definitely require you to use a shower curtain liner to take care of the problem. There are many fabric shower curtains that have their pros and cons that might deter you from purchasing them, but remember that a shower curtain liner will probably be able to take care of many of those issues.
We are now going to look at the various materials that can be used for shower curtains.
We will be looking at fabric, also known as Textiles, which include fabric or cloth etc. Shower curtain fabric can include man-made, synthetic fabrics as well as natural organic options.
Fabric Shower Curtains can include:
- Burlap Shower Curtain or Burlap and Lace Shower Curtain
- Linen Shower Curtain
- Cloth Shower Curtains
- Lace Shower Curtains
- Cotton Shower Curtains
- Hemp Shower Curtain
- Polyester Shower Curtain
- Toile Shower Curtain
Later, in Part II, we will also look at Vinyl Shower Curtains such as Vinyl, PEVA and EVA. So let’s get started!
Fabric Shower Curtains
A fabric shower curtain can be made from such a vast array of textiles. When buying fabric shower curtains, there are many varieties to choose from. With a little imagination, you can probably think up more fabric types to use. For instance, Fabric Shower Curtains can be:
- Percale Shower Curtains
- Denim Shower Curtains
- Satin Shower Curtains
- Brocade Shower Curtains
- Silk Shower Curtains
- Eyelet Shower Curtains
- Nylon Shower Curtains
- Polyester Shower Curtains
- Cotton Shower Curtains
- Linen Shower Curtains
- Hemp Shower Curtains
- And many more
Your preferences will probably be dependent on how easily they can be cleaned and the price range 🙂 For example, a Silk Shower Curtain would look luxurious in a bathroom, but when you consider that it is more expensive, it’s dry clean only and tends to get water spots easily, you may reconsider faux silk as a choice for you.
In order to determine which fabric shower curtain is best for you, you just have to consider the Pros and Cons and base your final decision on those.
The Fabric Shower Curtain Options we want to look at in part 1.
- Polyester Shower Curtains
- Cotton Shower Curtains
- Linen Shower Curtains
- Hemp Shower Curtains
Synthetic Shower Curtains
Synthetics are probably the most affordable when it comes to fabric shower curtain material. Some people may complain because they are man made, but they are extremely low in maintenance and stand up better than most of the natural alternatives.
Synthetics are well noted for their water repellent properties which helps in avoiding mildew. (Mildew can cause health problems such as asthma and allergies)
The majority of shower curtains on the market are made up of these man-made materials such as polyester and nylon, or a polyester/cotton mix.
Polyester Shower Curtains
- Very Easy to Find and Purchase
- Polyester Shower Curtains Have a Vast Array of Colors, Patterns and Styles to Suit Your Taste
- They Are Reasonably Priced (Inexpensive)
- They Are Generally Waterproof
- They Have Aesthetic Appeal
- They Are Resistant to Mildew
- They Resist Creasing
- They Resist Shrinking
- They Are Easily Recyclable
- They Are Not Flammable and Polyester Doesn’t Ignite Easily Like Many of the Natural, Untreated Fabrics Do.
- They Can be Dried in the Dryer.
- Polyester Shower Curtains Dry in a Flash Because it Doesn’t Absorb Moisture.
- Polyester Doesn’t Feel as Luxurious as Natural Fabrics
- It is Man Made, Synthetic
- Not Considered as Eco-Friendly Products
Natural Fabrics: Cotton & Linen Shower Curtains
- Cotton Shower Curtains and Linen Showers Curtain are Natural Fabrics
- Natural Fabrics, Such as Cotton and Linen, Come in a Vast Array of Colors, Prints, Weaves and Thicknesses
- They Look More Luxurious
- They Feel Softer Than Synthetics
- They Often Come With Matching Towels
- Considered Eco-Friendly Products
- Cotton and Linen Shower Curtains are More Expensive Than Synthetics
- They Are Not Water Repellant
- They Absorb Water Very Quickly
- They Don’t Dry Out Quickly
- They Become Incubators For Mold and Mildew, (More So Than Hemp)
- They Are Difficult To Care For
- They Shrink Drastically If Not Washed and Dried Properly
- They Must Be Hung To Dry, And They Take a Long Time To Dry
- They Lack Any Defense Against Fungi, Bacteria and Unsightly Stains
- Hard Water is a Big Problem Because it Leaves Brown Stains On The Curtain
- You Will Need Good Ventilation in The Bathroom To Help Prevent Mildew (Mildew Causes Asthma and Allergies)
- Cotton And Linen Crease Easily
- Because These Absorb Water So Quickly, You Can Expect to Have A Lot Of Water On The Floor When You Get Out Of Your Shower. (A vinyl shower curtain liner will prevent this)
- Natural Fabrics Are Much More Flammable Than Synthetic. Not Only Do They Ignite Readily, They Also Burn Much Faster Than Synthetic Curtains Do. (Not a Good Thing If You Like To Use Candles in the Bathroom)
- Most Natural Fabrics are Coated With Waterproofing Of Some Kind So That They Won’t Soak Up So Much Water. If They Are Left Untreated They Would Be Useless, Unless You Had a Good Shower Curtain Liner To Stop The Water From Flooding Your Bathroom. (Note: Waterproofing Uses Chemicals)
Hemp Shower Curtains
Many people consider Hemp to be a much more Eco-friendly shower curtain than the other alternatives. Obviously, as you have already seen, there are pros and cons to every option that you need to take into consideration.
- It is a Natural Shower Curtain
- The Pesticides Used Are Lower Than With Cotton
- The Fabric Is Made From The Plant Fibers
- The Hemp Fabric is Stronger and Longer Lasting Than The Fabric Produced From Cotton
- Its Weave is More Open Allowing For To Breath More Readily
- It is Resistant To Both Mildew And Bacteria
- Considered Eco-Friendly Products
- It Will Absorb Water
- You Will Need to Wring It Out And Wash It Frequently
- It Deteriorates Quickly If You Leave It Wet So You Will Need To Care For It More Rigorously (Some people suggest you wash it every couple of days to keep it from degrading)
- It Is Much More Expensive Than Synthetics (so if you are looking for inexpensive shower curtains these will be way above your budget)
- You Will Get Water On Your Floor Unless You Use a Shower Curtain Liner
A Word Regarding Eco-Friendly Products
Regarding Cotton Shower Curtains
When looking for an organic shower curtain, many feel that cotton shower curtains are one of the best choices because it is a natural product, as is Hemp, and uses less pesticides. If one considers the amount of water that is necessary to produce cotton, perhaps they might change their minds. According to the Environmental Justice Foundation in London, to produce only 1 kilogram of cotton (Enough for a T-shirt and pair of Jeans) it takes approximately 20,000 liters of water. This is causing a great ecological disaster in some cotton producing countries. For more info on this you can read: EJF (2012)The True Costs of Cotton: Cotton Production and Water Insecurity. Environmental Justice Foundation, London.You Can Download The Report Here EJF_Aral_report_cotton_net_ok
Regarding Hemp Shower Curtains
Although hemp is an organic material that is Eco-friendly, there are many manufacturers appearing on the market who want to jump on the ecological bandwagon. This of course, is for profit to make themselves more money. These unscrupulous dealers will use chemicals to grow and produce their hemp fabrics so that they can get them to the market more quickly.
During the process of making the hemp similar in size and appearance, in a process known as water retting, the water runoff pollutes the body of water that they are using. This can cause environmental issues with the health of the neighboring areas.
With all of the chemicals and solvents used by these unscrupulous people, the outcome is probably worse than using man-made synthetics.
Natural dyes are not as Eco-friendly as people would have you believe. It is true that synthetic dyes use chemicals to bond the color the fabric, but natural dyes will not bond to fabric unless the fabric has been treated in mordants. Most of these mordants are highly toxic and some natural dyes, such as Hematein which are derived from logwood are hazardous. Hematein is classified with a rating of 2 (where 0 is harmless and 4 is the maximum).
Conclusion: Fabric Shower Curtains
Before we go on to look at Vinyl Shower Curtains such as PEVA shower curtains and EVA shower curtains in part 2, Let’s take a moment to consider the pros and cons of fabric shower curtains once more.
- Fabric Shower Curtains Look and Feel More Luxurious Than Plastics
- They Can Give a More Formal Look To Your Bathroom
- Come in Many Colors and Designs
- They are Easy To Match With Your Decor
- Many of the Fabric Shower Curtains are Washable in the Washing Machine (Especially polyester)
- Fabric is More Expensive Than Plastics, Vinyl etc.
- Many Fabric Shower Curtains are Heavier and May Need More Secure Hardware to Keep Them Up. Spring Loaded Curtain Rods, Probably Won’t Do The Trick.
- They Will Need Washing Much More Often (with the exception of synthetics such as polyester)
- They Attract Mold and Mildew
- Many of Them Absorb and Retain Moisture. (This makes them heavy and a breeding ground for fungi, mildew and mold)
- Unless You Have a Very Gentle Shower Head, Water Will Definitely Leak Onto the Bathroom Floor. (This can be solved with a shower curtain liner)
- Many Fabric Shower Curtains are Treated to Waterproof Them and Help Them Resist Mildew. (These treatments do include chemicals)
- Hard Water Will Leave Unsightly Brown Stains on Your Fabric Shower Curtain Unless You Use a Shower Curtain Liner.
Please remember, many problems with fabric shower curtains can be solved with simply installing a proper shower curtain liner. This will protect your shower curtain and make the maintenance of Fabric Shower Curtains much less work.
As you can see, fabric shower curtains are available in many different materials. You are certain to find the exact one that you want to make your bathroom decor theme come to life.
Continue to Part II of our discussion on “Which Bathroom Shower Curtain is the Best?”