It’s bound to happen, even to the most well-ventilated among us.
I’ve been through nearly every type of shower curtain you can buy in an attempt to save both the planet and my sanity. Vinyl sorta creeps me out; I had a hell of a time with keeping mildew off cloth (hemp.) I’ve settled upon the polyester, ‘hotel’ liner for its sheer innocuousness (and the upwardly mobile option to add a pretty outer curtain someday when I can afford marimekko.)
After about 6 months use I discovered mildew spots near the bottom of the curtain where it’s apparently not drying out fully. A good hot water wash with towels and 7th Generation color-safe bleach didn’t do the trick like I’d hoped. Foolishly, I went ahead and dried the still-spotted curtain in the dryer, which effectively further established my mildew stains.
Now, I was skeptical about attempting stain removal on a washed and dryed object, but curiosity won in the end. I wanted to see if I could get these spots out without harsh chemicals or chlorine bleach.
1st attempt: lemon juice and salt scrub
I actually just popped open a jar of my preserved Meyer lemons and snatched some brine out of there, since all it is is lemon juice and Kosher salt. I used an old kitchen sponge/scrubber and plastered a thin layer of the scrub on the affected areas. Then I put it out on the clothesline to sun the areas where I lemon juiced
Remember your mom telling you about how she used to put lemon juice in her hair and sit out in the sun for hours for ‘free’ highlights? Well, consider this your shower curtain’s same salon treatment.
I think this is the method to use when you first notice mildew (and haven’t washed and dried the stains permanently into the curtain.)
2nd attempt: (old, not good any longer for cooking) baking powder and vinegar soak and scrub
I decided to get all chemistry on the mildew’s ass. I wanted something explosive! Vinegar softens the fabric up, and baking powder provides the friction to shake stains out, right? It was worth a shot, anyway.
I didn’t measure, it doesn’t really matter. I added about a cup of vinegar to roughly 2 cups hot water. Then i sprinkled in approximately 1/4 cup old baking powder. If you use new/good baking powder, just be sure to mix these things in a large bowl or tub because it’ll foam up when the vinegar and baking soda (within the baking powder) react. I let it sit in my little milky concoction overnight and then took the scrubber sponge, laid the spotty-bottomed curtain in the bathtub and scrubbed out some of the spots.
This actually worked! Though the spots did not entirely disappear, they noticeably lightened. I hung the curtain back out on the line to dry and when I brought it in just now the spots are barely visible!