An eco friendly shower curtain can be an easy update when trying to reduce your exposure to toxic chemicals. It is an easy swap for a “greener house”. Think about a steamy, hot shower and the water running down the plastic shower curtains.
Luckily there are some great options on the market for an eco-friendly shower curtain.
I had previously purchased an organic cotton shower curtain but had not updated the actual plastic shower curtain liner. If you want to update your bathroom décor this is an easy and relatively inexpensive update you can do at any time.
Why should you invest in an eco friendly shower curtain?
Most shower curtains are made using polyvinyl chloride. This is not good for human health or the environment. As market demands grow, there are many safer options for eco-friendly shower curtains available.
An eco-friendly shower curtain is an easy and inexpensive swap you can make to reduce your overall toxic load. This swap will be better for your own health and the environment.
What is Polyvinyl Chloride?
Polyvinyl chloride is also known as PVC. Polyvinyl chloride is not found naturally. It is a synthetic material with many different formulations.
PVC has become one of the most widely used plastics. It is the fifth-most manufactured plastic worldwide1.
The entire life cycle of polyvinyl chloride from production, to usage, and disposal all have health concerns. The toxic chemicals that makeup PVC are released and accumulating in our air, water supply, and food chain.
PVC can be difficult to recycle because it is blended with many different ingredients to reach the right configuration for the purpose it serves.
It is known to be strong and resistant to water so it is often used in plastic shower curtains.
Plastic shower curtains are very common in most households.
Health concerns with Polyvinyl Chloride
Polyvinyl chloride also releases volatile organic compounds. VOCs or volatile organic compounds can evaporate easily at room temperature2. Therefore, volatile organic compounds are easily inhaled.
Volatile Organic Compounds can cause acute and chronic health issues. Inhalation is the second fastest way VOCs enter the bloodstream behind injection.
In short term, they can cause breathing issues along with irritation to the eyes and nose, skin reaction, fatigue, dizziness, and depression.
Long term health concerns with Volatile Organic Compounds are infertility in men and women, birth defects, developmental disabilities, kidney damage, and a higher risk of cancer in children.
Indoor sources of volatile organic compounds include paint, cleaning supplies, varnishes, building materials, pesticides, cosmetics, and shower curtains.
Polyvinyl Chloride is also a source of phthalates. The phthalates are added to make the plastic curtain flexible. You can read my previous blog post on Why Should You Avoid Fragrance to learn more about the harmful health concerns with phthalates.
According to the National Cancer Institute, vinyl chloride can cause a rare form of liver cancer, lung and brain cancers, leukemia, and lymphoma3.
Other health concerns include hormone disruption, reproductive concerns, immune damage, and other harmful effects.
This is why the best choice is to swap the traditional vinyl curtains with non-toxic shower curtains.
What should you look for in an eco friendly shower curtain?
Instead of buying PVC shower curtains, select one that is made with natural materials or PVC alternative. Fabric shower curtains are more eco-friendly than plastic shower curtains.
Mildew resistant and machine washable are ideal. The main purpose of a shower curtain is to keep the water off the bathroom floor so think about your bath routine when you go to purchase your shower curtain.
How often do you take a bath verse shower? How many people are using the shower in a row? Would the curtain have time to dry between uses?
Bath mats can also help absorb the water off the bathroom floor, but a shower curtain is key to keeping your bathroom floor dry. Also, if looking to update the bath towels and mats select organic-cotton bath towels.
Hemp curtains are a popular option. They dry quickly and are naturally bacteria resistant.
Organic hemp canvas is one of the better choices if you want to forgo a shower curtain liner altogether. Since it dries quickly you don’t have to worry about the growth of mold.
Cotton Shower Curtains
When selecting a cotton shower curtain, look for an organic cotton shower curtain. Organic cotton will be more eco friendly than traditional cotton. Organic cotton will use less harmful chemicals in the growing and dying process.
The cotton does not dry as quickly as the hemp so mildew and mold could be a concern. A polyester liner is ideal when using a cotton shower curtain to keep the curtain dry.
Linen Shower Curtains
Linen shower curtains are another great eco-friendly shower curtain option. Like cotton and hemp, they are biodegradable. Therefore, all 3 are better choices for the environment and climate change.
You will need to also add a liner since linen does absorb water similar to cotton.
Make your own eco friendly shower curtain
You can buy a fabric you love and sew the bottom hem to make it the perfect fit for your space. I actually did this with an organic cotton duvet cover.
Be sure the curtain rod is at the correct height before you measure and sew the bottom hem. Then add a polyester liner. It is a simple way to change up your bathroom decor and you can easily make your eco friendly shower curtain.
Glass doors sliding or a half glass are great eco friendly options. If doing any kind of home renovation, I recommend opting for glass shower doors when you can.
- Leave bathroom fan running after you shower to help reduce mildew
- Leave the bathroom door or window open after your shower to help more air circulate
- Machine wash your shower curtain liner regularly
Recommended Eco Friendly Shower Curtains
Depending on your where you are located, you might be able to find a great local option for an eco friendly shower curtain. I also love finding brands that do more than just put a product on the shelf, but really take into consideration our planet and social responsibility. These are two brands that I would recommend.
Parachute is a great brand. They have a variety of minimalist shower curtains available in different colors on their website.
They also have a polyester liner available. According to their website, the eco friendly shower curtain liner is completely waterproof and mildew resistant.
Parachute is Oeko-Tex Certified. Which means their products are made without harmful chemicals.
Coyuchi offers two different organic cotton shower curtains for purchase. All Coyuchi products are 100% organic cotton. They pride themselves on not using synthetic fibers.
Coyuchi strongly believes in a transparent supply chain and sustainable livelihoods all the way up the supply chain. Their cotton is Fair Trade Certified and the company is also 1% for the Planet. Coyuchi offers a 2nd home program where you can send back your old Coyuchi textiles and they will offer you a discount on your next purchase.
When looking to look for an eco friendly shower curtain, skip the vinyl shower curtain and instead opt for more natural fibers. This will reduce your exposure to toxic chemicals and improve the air quality in your bathroom.
My goal is to help you navigate reducing your exposure to potentially toxic chemicals by providing easy swaps and realistic tips. Hope you found this post helpful and it gives you ideas of swaps you can make for a safer home.
1Polyvinyl chloride in health care. Ted Schettler. https://noharm-uscanada.org/sites/default/files/documents-files/6222/Polyvinyl%20chloride%20in%20health%20care%20-%20A%20rationale%20for%20choosing%20alternatives%20-%201-31-2020.pdf (Accessed June 17, 2021)
2Volatile Organic Compounds. Science Direct. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/volatile-organic-compound (Accessed June 17, 2021).
3Vinyl Chloride https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/substances/vinyl-chloride. (Accessed June 17, 2021).