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Why You Should Never Use Vinyl Shower Curtains

Why You Should Never Use Vinyl Shower Curtains

Why shouldn't you use vinyl shower curtains? They are cheap, easy to find, and some may even be mildew-resistant. But they are also toxic.

Vinyl (PVC - also known as polyvinyl chloride) - shower curtains have been proven to release dioxin* which is a known carcinogen. Further, they are not eco-friendly as they are slow to decompose and therefore clog landfills. Equally unhealthy, is the fact that if they are burned they release even more toxic chemicals into our environment.

The World Health Organization - describes dioxins as environmental pollutants which have the dubious distinction of belonging to the “dirty dozen” - a group of dangerous chemicals known as persistent organic pollutants. Dioxins are of great concern because of their highly toxic potential. They have been shown, in experiments, to affect a number of our organs. Their half life in the body has been estimated to be between seven to eleven years.

When you unwrap vinyl shower curtains - you will be hit with that strong odor. That is the smell of the toxic chemicals. If you already have vinyl shower curtains hanging in your bathroom and still detect the smell, it is suggested you hang them out in the sun for awhile - until the odor disappears.

If you are thinking about using nylon or polyester shower curtains, they may be a bit less toxic but they are made from nonrenewable resources and they are not biodegradeable.

There are alternatives:

Glass shower doors -  are one suggestion in lieu of vinyl, polyester, and nylon. These doors are made from a tempered glass.

Because we are becoming more aware of the toxic chemicals everywhere in our environment and demanding healthier alternatives, manufactures are quick to respond. Now on the market you can find shower curtains made from linen, hemp and organic cotton. These can be easily found online.

Finally - why do we need shower curtains anyway? During the time I lived in S. Korea there was no need for shower curtains or glass shower doors. I happily splashed water all over the bathroom. This is because the bathrooms are designed with a drainage hole on the floor of the bathroom, not just in the tub or shower stall. Here, in the US, we all have to be concerned about water hitting the floor and seeping down to the floor below - whereas in S. Korea the water would simply go down the drain in the middle of my floor.

For additional information about toxins in our environment, many in surprising places, as well as suggestions for detoxing your home and environment, see the links below.

*dioxin - a general term used to describe a group of hundreds of chemicals that are highly persistent in the environment. The compound rated most toxic is 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin, or TCDD. Dioxin is formed as a by-product of many industrial processes such as chemical and pesticide manufacturing, pulp and paper bleaching, etc. It is formed by burning chlorine-based chemical compounds with hydrocarbons. Among other affiliations it is used in the production of Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) plastics (as in shower curtain).

See informative links below:

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BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on April 27, 2013:

Dearest Minky - I always write a 'sigh' and I am so glad you wrote. I lived in Seoul for a number of years and I loved the shower rooms. I can go in and water can splash everywhere and it would drain down through the floor. Unfortunately here in the US the only drain is in the tub and any splashing does damage to the floor below.

I would love to wash more in my bathroom - it just makes so much sense to let it just drain.

I also miss the warm floors and the food and oh so much more...

Thank you for writing!

Minky on April 26, 2013:

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Great informations! Thank you.

I use transparent vinly because when I had fabric it was soooo dark in the shower. sigh~ I miss korean bathroom. I was able to do so much work in there. I washed big baskets and blankets. I washed blanket in the turb and hang it on the edge of turb. Water will drain in the turb and floor as well. After that I can move my blanket. other wise it is too heavy. It was actually fun wash them with your feet. It's like old style wine making. :) Now i'm in US. I don't wash blanket at home. I still can do some work in the turb. but it's inconvenient and mess up my floor.

Alfreta Sailor from Southern California on May 22, 2012:

Okay, so I've read this before. I guess the reason why I don't remember it, is because at the time I didn't use shower curtains. Now that I do, it really interests me. Being in my own home I had control, now the control is taken away, I'll have to take another route. Thanks again for writing this. I don't know if I voted the last time, but this time I voted up, useful, and interesting. I also "liked" it and posted it on facebook.

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on March 13, 2012:

Thanks LauraGT. I'm so glad you found the info timely. I've just become your fan by the way. So glad to meet a like mind!

LauraGT from MA on March 12, 2012:

Thanks for this great info. I'm linking this hub in one I'm writing about the recent Silent Spring report on chemicals in household products, including shower curtains!

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on January 04, 2012:

It is not recommended that you purchase PVC shower curtains, Alex. However, if you already have them then it is suggested that you hang them out in the sun until the odor is completely gone before you bring them indoors.

Alex on January 04, 2012:

Is it ok to use PVC after 1 month? When it won’t smell so strong any more. I have a curtain that is 2-3 years old now.

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on November 08, 2011:

When you mention that smell moonlake I can recall it so clearly - it was powerful. I loved the shower room in S. Korea. I was able to splash everywhere. Mmmmmm.

moonlake from America on November 08, 2011:

I didn't know this. I hate the smell of shower curtains when they come out of the package. Curtains do keep in the heat when you want a nice warm shower. One day we will have to get shower doors.

The shower room sounds nice.

Good hub.

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on November 08, 2011:

You're welcome sharewhatuknow. And it's good to pass on that information about plastic and the microwave. Thank you!

sharewhatuknow from Western Washington on November 08, 2011:

Thanks for another great hub Bk.

And by the way to all hubbers, I never heat food in the microwave that is in plastic containers. I always use glass bowls or plates.

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on July 18, 2011:

Thanks for commenting brennawelker!

brennawelker on July 17, 2011:

I love decorating curtains in my house. Thanks for sharing this hub. Wonderful ideas!

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on June 03, 2011:

I love those rooms Ashlea. It was such a pleasure to take a shower in S. Korea and just let the water splash everywhere. When I think of all the damage done in buildings here because of tubs overflowing, or just from showering - yikes!

When I looked for cloth - it was sooooooo expensive - maybe I will make my own. I'm a bather so it's possible.

Thanks for commenting!

Ashlea B on June 03, 2011:

I may need to look for a better alternative. I'll have to stick with a curtain for now, but maybe a better type. Honestly, I'd love to get glass shower doors, but it just hasn't been in the home improvements budget yet (plus we'd have to put it on a purple bathtub! HA!). My brother lives in Japan, and like S. Korea, they basically have a shower room. It's a great idea. My brother's toilet, and a sink/vanity were outside of the shower room. Then he had a fully tiled room with drain (and even another mirror/sink) where you could bathe and/or shower. I loved it!

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on April 03, 2011:

Thanks for commenting GreenThumbLady

GreenThumbLady from The Beautiful Earth on April 03, 2011:

Very interesting! I don't have a vinyl shower curtain but I've never given much thought to them either. Great information!

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on December 02, 2010:

So true HealthyHanna - we are immersed in this stuff!We know heating food is a toxic but the plastics are everywhere!

HealthyHanna from Utah on December 01, 2010:

I don't heat food in plastic anymore, but I haven't thought about the problems that may be caused in the shower!

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on October 12, 2010:

I'm glad too InfinityVal - when I think of those vinyl curtains and the smell and how could it not affect my household. Seems they have gotten smellier over the years.

Thanks for writing!

InfinityVal from NNY on October 12, 2010:

I'm so glad I dumped my vinyl curtains. They smelled like plastic and always got moldy. My cloth one looks great and washes easily.

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on August 22, 2010:

Thanks F A Williams. I'm your fan too and have been enjoying your hubs. I've been commenting and will be back!

F A Williams from United States on August 22, 2010:

BkCreative, I've been reading through a few of your hubs. Your hubs are interesting and very informative. I'm a fan.

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on June 28, 2010:

Wow dawnM - and here we embrace yoga for the many benefits - but what about the mat? I was in the process of going out to buy a mat - but I think I will stick to the old wool rug I have - which is supposed to be toxin-free. Good grief!

Thanks for sharing that information!

Dawn Michael from THOUSAND OAKS on June 28, 2010:

so true and they use the same chemical in many of your synthic upholstery and drapery fabric!!!! I also just bought a yoga mat unrolled it and the smell almost knocked me over!!!

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on June 28, 2010:

It makes sooooo much sense TheFont to have that drain on the floor. Seems so many countries do this but not in the US. I suspect here - it was the cheapest thing to do. Sigh. But not always the best. So we have filled our homes with these toxins and then our landfills. It makes no good sense.

Thanks for commenting!

TheFont from Australia on June 28, 2010:

Thanks BK, this is useful information. Luckily for us in Australia we also have a drain in the centre of the floor so my shower is open in one corner of the room. I never could understand why other countries don't do this.

Great hub, thank you.

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on May 01, 2010:

You're very welcome Maita. Always a pleasure when you visit. It'll be 80 in NYC - so my kind of weather - it will be a happy weekend. Here's wishing you the best with lots of sunshine. CarolynOnSaturday!

prettydarkhorse from US on May 01, 2010:

Toxic, thank you for the information again Carolyn, Now I obliged you to write more hehe, Happy weekend my friend, Maita

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on March 21, 2010:

It seems that polyester is also one of those synthetic fabrics. On the other hand you already have it so it would be wasteful to toss it. I'm a bath person - but even my cotton curtains have probably went through a chemical treatment process. But I've had them for years and at least they are lasting forever.

Nice to meet you by the way. You have great hubs and I am now a follower!

Peter from Australia on March 21, 2010:

BkCreative , thanks for the heads-up on these pvc shower curtains. Being in an older house we don't have the drain hole in the floor so we must use a Curtain. We are now using a curtain made of 100% Polyester. Can you tell me if this material is carcinogenic?

Great Hub , thumbs up for the safety alert!

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on March 11, 2010:

So true Uva! Our bathrooms were designed with absolutely no considerations for the environment! Why shouldn't bathwater be used to flush the toilet - it makes sense. And we pay for this waste of resources in dollars and cents as well.

And those plastic bottles - I wrote a hub (about toxic personal care products) about the BPA (bisphenol A) found in plastic containers - it is a hormone disruptor (and were used in baby bottles as well). Right now almost every metal food can in the supermarket has BPA lining its cans. Only one company claims not to but who to trust.

Thanks for the input!

Uva Be Dolezal from Washington State, searching for home town. on March 11, 2010:

We need to seriously redesign American bathrooms. The basins and the shower water could flow into a tank through a ceramic filter, to be used as toilet flush water. Our tub and sink drains are always getting clogged. If we didn't use toxic soap hair could be composted. I agree shower curtains are a good place to start, how about plastic bottles next :) PBA rubbed into our scalps every day with zero non-plastic alternatives.

thanks for the thoughtful informative hub

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on March 04, 2010:

When you think about that smell Kosmo - yikes! I've read that it helps if you let the shower curtain bake out in the sun until the smell goes away. I like the Asian idea - the drain hole is on the floor not in the tub or shower stall so you don't even need shower curtains. When I lived in S. Korea I splashed water everywhere - it was so glorious!

Kelley Marks from Sacramento, California on March 04, 2010:

Thanks a lot, BkCreative, now I've gotta worry about my plastic shower curtain containing dioxin!!! Aren't there enough carcinogens in my apartment as it is? The reason I buy the darn thing is because at Target they sell them for $2.50 apiece. Perhaps next time I'll look for a mildew-resistant cloth. Is that cool? Thanks for the heads-up. Later!

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on February 14, 2010:

I think it's like the 'new car smell' that we were taught to love - it's new so it must be okay. Whew!

Nice to meet you - and thanks for writing!

Cool Baby Clothes from Ohio on February 14, 2010:

Thanks for the info on this! I was not aware. I do have to admit that I love the smell of a new shower liner though as caustic and horrible as they are! lol

Great Hub!

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on February 13, 2010:

You're very welcome Brenda201B - I'd love to design a house now - and I would certainly have drains right there on the floor of the bathroom - it just makes so much sense. I live in an old building in NYC - and water on the bathroom floor has caused serious damage - it can be an innocent shower with too much water hitting the floor - or cases where the sink or tub has run over - disaster!

Thanks for writing!

Brenda201B from Austin, Texas on February 12, 2010:

BK: Your hub made me purchase a hemp shower curtain. Thanks for the information on this. We Americans as so behind the times in all of this. I would love to have the a drain in my bathroom, besides have a great time in the shower, it would make cleaning the bathroom so much easier.

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on February 11, 2010:

It makes so much sense, doesn't it herbivorehippi? I think a shower would be so much more fun if you can let yourself go and just splash water everywhere. In Seoul - it was soooo wonderful!

theherbivorehippi from Holly, MI on February 11, 2010:

This hub just made me laugh....I wish I did have a drainage hole in my bathroom floor! That would be great!

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on February 01, 2010:

You're welcome Lord Bryan. It's amazing how we have ignored these toxic odors but I learned from a very wise elder here in Brooklyn many years ago how this out-grassing can give you flu-like symptoms. It happened to me with paint and she told me what was happening. Surely, we deserve better. Or we can be savvy like in Asian countries where the drain is on the bathroom floor instead of in the tub or shower stall - so no need for the curtains - water can splash everywhere!

Lord Bryan on February 01, 2010:

I agree. I have been knocked out by the smell at times when I've put up a new shower curtain. I will have to re-think the next time I purchase a new one.

Thank you for the info.

Lord Bryan

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on December 11, 2009:

Thanks Ben Zoltak - thinking about Andy Warhol, it makes me think of the phrase 'mad as a hatter' because people that made hats used mercury in the hat bands which seriously affected them. Good thing we can share all this toxic information.

Ben Zoltak from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA on December 11, 2009:

Interesting article, I used to work in a factory where we used liquid vinyl inks silkscreening (it explains why Warhol was the way he was), they are a tough batch of chemicals. Glad to see your warning for everyone, well done BKcreative!


BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on September 18, 2009:

Hello R Oberoi - Nice to meet you!

I so agree about making the right choice. We are, after all, each responsible for our environment. We can no longer say we don't know - even though manufactures don't tell us.

Hello Clara Ghomes! You're welcome. I am so glad we are seeking out this information and taking back some control over our environment.

Thank you for writing!

Clara Ghomes on September 18, 2009:

Thanks for sharing your ideas with us. We always keep in mind that our using of toxic products may harms environment.

R Oberoi from India on September 18, 2009:

We must save our earth and we can start it from our home. We must use eco friendly products. Instead of PVC we can opt for organic cotton fabric for shower curtains. Nice hub on eco friendliness.

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on July 22, 2009:

Yes charmbaker - if they are vinyl - they have this toxin. And unfortunately this is the kind of curtain that is most often sold everywhere.

Not that long ago I was in a homestore and just happened to pass the section that sold shower curtains - the smell was overwhelming! Ugh!

Thanks for writing!

Charmbaker on July 21, 2009:

Hey BKC - does that mean that the average of the shower curtains on the market contain this toxin? I've never thought to check the ingredients of my shower curtain! Goodness, is anything sacred anymore???

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on July 21, 2009:

Thank you Daniel Carter. It boggles the mind how many toxins are in our every day items - and are dangerously harmful to us and especially our children. I've actually given up on a microwave. More awareness is necessary and becoming educated consumers.

Thanks again!

Daniel Carter from Salt Lake City, Utah on July 21, 2009:

Thanks for the info. There is also more and more info surfacing about dioxins in microwavable dishes and plastic containers, which apparently intensifies the toxicity when heated to the extreme temperatures in a microwave. Lots of poisons in our environment. But a step at a time, more awareness will eventually do the trick, I believe.

Again, thanks for the info.

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on July 21, 2009:

Thanks einron - it seems big business doesn't care at all about the environment or our health. It is totally on us.

Thanks fastfreta - glad the info is useful. We are being bombarded with chemicals. Good thing we have the internet (and hub pages) to do research.

Alfreta Sailor from Southern California on July 20, 2009:

Thanks BK for the information. I am learning so much from just reading these hubs. I am surely going to pass this on.

einron from Toronto, Ontario, CANADA on July 20, 2009:

Thanks for the info. We should help the environment.

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