Shower curtains are ubiquitous: they’re in most American bathrooms. But just because they’re common doesn’t mean that they’re the best option for privacy and decor in your bathroom. In fact, we think you should ditch your shower curtain—and here’s why.
Keep reading to learn the three reasons you should upgrade from your old shower curtain.
#1 They Can Be Bad for Your Health
Hanging in your shower, constantly exposed to water and humidity, shower curtains are the perfect breeding ground for mold. You may have noticed mildew spots or brown, pink, or orange mold spots on your shower curtain before.
If you’re a healthy adult, you don’t need to lose sleep about the bacteria and mold on your shower curtain making you sick. However, people with compromised immune systems and those who have very young children should take extra precautions to make their bathroom mold-free.
For some people, mold can cause a stuffy nose, sore throat, coughing or wheezing, burning eyes, or skin rash. People with asthma, mold allergies, or chronic lung disease may have more severe reactions.
With regular cleaning (or replacing the curtain), mold can be controlled. However, there’s another, surprising health concern related to shower curtains: toxic chemicals.
Several studies have raised concerns about the plastics that shower curtains are made of. The “new shower curtain smell” is actually something called “off gassing.” Plastics like PVC—commonly known as vinyl—release compounds into the air in the form of gas. These compounds may include phthalates, toluene, ethylbenzene, phenol, methyl isobutyl ketone, xylene, acetophenone and cumene. (All of these have been identified by the EPA as hazardous air pollutants.)
More studies are being done on how phthalates and these other chemicals affect human health. However, many scientists are worried about the links between these chemicals and harm to the liver and the central nervous, respiratory and reproductive systems. For many homeowners, the potential risk isn’t worth it.
#2 They’re Bad for the Environment
Most shower curtains are made of vinyl, polyester, or other manmade materials. The upside to these materials is that they’re cheap and quick-drying. The downside, however, is that these materials are bad for the environment.
Depending on the material, plastic waste can take anywhere from 20 to 500 years to decompose. Even then, it doesn’t return to the earth: instead, it just gets smaller and smaller, becoming what’s known as “microplastics.”
Plastics and microplastics are a serious source of environmental pollution and potentially a hazard to human health. Currently, scientists are studying the effects of microplastics on human health. Previous studies on animals have shown microplastics to cause an increase in inflammation, oxidative stress, and damage to cells.
If your shower curtain is made of polyester or a similar fiber, it’s likely shedding microplastics with every shower. And of course, a shower curtain that’s thrown away will end up in landfills to decompose and become microplastics.
#3 They Make Your Bathroom Look Smaller and Gloomier
Shower curtains—particularly old or moldy ones—make a bathroom look smaller and, well, dingier.
A shower and tub usually take up a significant amount of space in a bathroom. When a shower curtain blocks off the area, it makes the whole bathroom look smaller. When you can’t see to the back of the room, through the shower, your eye assumes the space stops at the curtain.
What’s more, the space can look darker and even dingier (especially if the curtain is dark, old, or moldy). The shower curtain typically blocks light from reaching fully into the shower.
A bad shower curtain can ruin the design of an otherwise beautiful bathroom!
What to Get Instead for Your Shower
What should you get for your shower instead of another shower curtain? Consider glass!
Glass shower enclosures are a superior bathroom choice for a number of reasons.
Glass is easy to clean, and the material doesn’t have the same health concerns as plastics. Its transparency gives a feeling of space and openness—making a bathroom look larger and brighter. Glass makes a bathroom look more considered and luxurious (while being a very reasonably priced option). Plus, glass is forever: no more buying shower curtains every 6 months (which is better for the environment and your wallet).
When it comes to glass shower enclosures, there are tons of options. Framed or frameless, contemporary or traditional: glass can work in any bathroom design.
If you’re ready to upgrade from your old shower curtain, we are happy to help. We’ll answer your questions, walk you through your options, and even help with the design.