Sunday, February 20, 2011

Hemp Shower Curtain- Fighting the Mold and Plastic Monsters

Living in Nova Scotia has lots of perks, but also comes with some pretty clear realities- dampness, wet, drizzle, rain and... mold in the bathrooms. Yep, unless you have a ridiculous fan in your bathroom and a wicked dehumidifier, mildew in the caulking around the tub is a part of life.

Although in writing it looks kinda bad, really it just means that you have to change the caulking around your tub about once a year... make sure to clean your tub and keep an eye on how it's doing. Not difficult and not that gross. I did realize, however, once we moved to Vernon- a semi-arid desert- that mold around the tub was reason to panic, run screaming out of your house and worry incessantly about cancer.

Needless to say, our apartment doesn't have awesome ventilation and it was only a matter of time before we were going to have to change the caulking. However, what I wasn't prepared for was the shower curtain.

I clean our bathroom at least every other day, which includes scrubbing the tub and lower part of the curtain. Do you know how difficult it is to scrub a hanging curtain? UGH. So difficult. After two and a half years of losing the battle of Lisa vs Mold on the shower curtain I was at my wits end. Our non-pvc plastic curtain was tossed in the washer, unhooked and scrubbed with a hard plastic brush, sprayed with my eco-cleaner every day... and Mold was proclaimed the winner. After our third non-pvc plastic shower curtain I was completely disgusted that I would have to buy yet *another* plastic curtain. Who cares if it's not pvc- it's still plastic, not-recyclable and totally wasteful.

So after three years of thinking about it, I caved and bought a hemp shower curtain. One reason why I waited so long was the price. Hemp shower curtains run from 70-100$- ack! So much money for a shower curtain. But no frigging way was I going to buy another plastic curtain. The lady at P'Lovers assured me she hasn't bought a curtain in three years and adores hers. Honestly, I think they are ugly and decided to keep our pretty cover part and put the hemp behind it.

Three weeks later and what do I think?

Hemp Shower curtain PROS:
  • Made in Canada and from a natural renewable fibre
  • Naturally anti-mold
  • Dries really really fast
  • No plastic smell... no plastic! :)
  • SO easy to clean, just toss it in the wash with towels etc once a week.
  • Not even a smidgeon of mold or dirt.
Hemp Shower curtain CONS:
  • Gets pretty wet. My shower (first of the day) I keep the curtain outside of the tub to decrease curtain wetness... but it has to be moved to the inside to dry or it will drip all over the floor. Which isn't good since our tub isn't properly sealed and the floor is a bit spongy...
  • Since it gets wet, we no longer can leave our bathmat on the tub, as it won't dry. It now has to hang on a towel rack, and our towels are now on the back of the door. Ah well.
  • It's ugly... I wouldn't want to have it as my only shower curtain.
  • It needs to be washed once a week, or at the very most every two weeks. Otherwise mold will grow and you'll have to cut and re-hem the curtain. 
  • The price.... sigh.
Overall, I would never go back. Cleaning this shower curtain is so much easier, and doesn't require one whole load only for the curtain. Tuesdays have become our shower curtain wash day, and we usually toss in whatever rags, towels or facecloths that need to be washed as well. So far, our regular Bio-vert laundry detergent has been working wonderfully. No harsh chemicals required.

As for the price... it will eventually pay itself off when you consider that I would have to had continued buying plastic shower curtains. It's something you could put on your gift list, or 'save up for' list. Still, I am really enjoying putting an end to the plastic cycle, the fact that I no longer am breathing in the nasty chemicals released by heat and moisture from the plastic and the ease of keeping mold at bay.


article copyright of EcoYogini at


  1. We have a polyester curtain that I got as a hand me down from my folks when I moved to our current place about 8 years ago. My parents used it in their guest bathroom for at least 3 years before handing it over. I wash the bottom of it with a coarse brush and I only really wash it in the machine every month or so. Our bathroom isn't very well ventilated either (really who wants to open the window in the winter???) but I find the weekly scrub to be enough to hold back the mold. Also, it looks like it could last another 10 years or more! There are no obvious signs of wear or fading! I think the fact it has lasted so long (and will last for a lot longer) has offset the impact of making it and from what I have read, polyester is a safe alternative to PVC.

  2. good to know, i've heard mixed reviews about the hemp shower curtain. i use a polyester one that's meant as a liner but it's machine washable so every time it gets grimy at the bottom i just toss 'er in the machine and i'm good.

  3. I have the mother of all exhaust fans in my bathroom, but it's not enough to prevent mildew on the grout and caulking. I'm trying to train my teenagers to dry the shower walls after showering.

    I recently bought a microfiber shower curtain at Walmart (really, I hardly ever shop there). I think it was $12.97. It is the best shower curtain I've ever owned. There are magnets in the corners of the bottom hem, which can be attached to the other side of the tub, so that the curtain is spread out enough to dry completely. (I know that's not really why the magnets are there, but we use them that way).

  4. I grew up with homemade unbleached cotton muslin shower curtains. Easy to wash, light weight (even wet) and easy to make -plus, I like the look.

    In a poorly ventilated bathroom, I used to use my oscillating fan -the air movement really helped.

  5. I congratulate you of giving up plastic curtains. It is not only costly because of buying one from time to time. It is also a possible hazard to the environment. And you choose a good shower curtain. just remember quality came with the price.

  6. i'm starting to look into a new shower curtain (we DO have a PVC one that my boyfriend bought on a shopping trip without me ;-) but like you say it's always gross at the bottom and hard to scrub so i want to get a new one. i had a cloth one in the past, don't remember if it was hemp, but it got moldy so i threw it out - but that was because i almost never washed it. and it made me wonder if i would need to use bleach when washing, but i guess not. we only do laundry every three weeks or so - so i wonder if that would be enough for cleaning the hemp curtain? it's not as damp here as halifax but my bathroom only has the indoor fan, no window for ventilation. hesitant to spend the money if it's still going to get moldy. i'll keep doing some research.

  7. Hemp shower curtains are great. You do not need a liner with it. Despite of what some say, any mold can be avoided by letting it air dry - open windows and don't have sit in the tab. They look retro-minimalistic and fit any design. It is natural, non-toxic and are a great addition to a home that aspires to be green, eco-conscious or simply healthy.

    This store has several colors (got mine there)

  8. I've had hemp shower curtains for a few years. They are not the prettiest fabric, and can get wrinkly after being wet. I have not had any problems with mold or mildew. Here's what I do: I use two shower curtains at a time, one inside and an outer one. I use the hemp for inside, and a nicer looking cotton curtain for the outside. You can buy nice looking colorful cotton shower curtains at Sears or Bed Bath Beyond. I have a set of double-hook shower curtain rings. This keeps the two curtains from touching each other. After a shower, when the inside hemp curtain is soaking wet, I spread it out both curtains open to dry. It dries quickly (within a couple of hours). I live in a dry climate which helps, but in the summer when it's more humid, I use a small portable fan in the bathroom. I also wash the hemp curtain once every week or two, and use hydrogen peroxide laundry bleach. This keeps any mildew away. No one should have problems with mildew with a hemp curtain. It's the fastest drying fabric you can buy. Faster than any cotton (a tighter weave). The hemp weave is coarser, you can practically see through it. So it dries fast. Having two curtains eliminates any splash through, since the outer cotton curtain catches any excess. There is absolutely no water on my bathroom floor.

  9. After throwing away my plastic shower curtain, here's what I've done...

    Since hemp curtains are not that great looking and because they get wrinkly after they dry, I bought 4 hemp shower curtains in different colors (one for each season) and use them as the "inside" curtain. Then I bought 4 cotton or polyester curtains (in the same color) and use these for the "outer" curtains. You don't have to do this, but having more than one set of curtains increases the longevity of each set. With 4 sets, I each pair of curtains gets used for only 3 months of every year, making all my curtains last 4 times longer. Like I said, you don't have to do this, because the initial outlay for 4 hemp curtains is quite expensive, but think about the possibility of buying more than one. With 4 sets of curtains, I figure they will all last me a lifetime. And with proper care, I'll never have to buy another one.

    Then I got a set of double-hook shower curtain hooks to hang both the outer and inner curtains on the same rod.

    The inner hemp curtain of course gets soaking wet. Although hemp fabric is fairly quick to dry, simply spreading out the hemp shower curtain and allowing it to air dry after a shower still takes about 10-12 hours (and that's in a dry climate like Calgary). So after each shower I'll hand-wring out the bottom half of the soaking wet inner hemp curtain, take it down, and toss it in the dryer for 10 min. Then I'll hang it up again to finish air drying. You could dry the curtain completely in the dryer, but this would take about 20-25 minutes and the utility costs of drying it this long after every shower could add up. Just 10 minutes in the dryer is enough to drastically reduce drying time from 10-12 hours (hanging air dry only) to 4 hours (10 min in dryer + hanging air dry). The "outer" cotton curtain hardly ever gets wet, or when it does, not wet enough to do anything. Just leave the outer curtain on the hooks to air dry. You can also leave both curtains on their hooks and set a portable space heater on a chair in front (lift up or move the outer curtain out of the way) for about 30 min. This will also speed up drying time. An advantage to using the clothes dryer is it vents the moisture from whatever is being dried (the shower curtain) to the outside, which makes for less moisture in the bathroom.

    Any fabric that is wet a lot is susceptible to mold and mildew. To prevent this, the key is to keep the amount of time the hemp curtain is wet to a minimum as outlined above. Also, once a week I'll wash the inner hemp curtain with a little hydrogen peroxide laundry bleach. Having both an inner and outer curtain, you'll find the outer curtain almost never needs to be washed, since the inner curtain takes 99% of the wear and tear.

    I love hemp curtains and will never go back. They are quite strong, can take a lot of abuse and with proper care will not get moldy. At the end of their life, hemp can be re-used or thrown out. Being a natural fiber, hemp will biodegrade quickly in a landfill.

  10. Shower curtain could certainly fight molds and water spillage but installing shower screens could greatly benefit you on repair maintenance and it could last for a longer of time rather than a curtain.

  11. I have curtains in my bathroom and they look so dirty that it is high time to clean them. Thanks a lot for this interesting article! Chalk Farm Carpet Cleaners Ltd.

  12. I know very well your struggle. I had big problems with my shower curtains. I decided to buy cloth shower curtains and they work pretty well so far. I also clean them so easily. I just spray them with soap water and they are clean again.


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