A good shower curtain looks great, dries quickly, and keeps mold and mildew away. Whether you're the type of person who spends hours poring over designs and colors or just buys the first one within budget, you'll want to keep two things in mind to make sure your shower curtain is a keeper — fabric and size. We spoke with Donna McMahon, an award-winning kitchen and bath designer and founder of KE Interior Solutions in Denver, on how to choose a shower curtain and how to measure for them. You can check out her tips at the end of this guide.
If you're just here for the best shower curtains, these picks were all chosen with McMahon's guidance in mind and blend longevity with low-maintenance materials and versatile style.
The best shower curtains of 2021
- A universal white shower curtain: mDesign Waffle Weave Fabric Shower Curtain
- A hookless shower curtain with detachable liner: Hookless Waffle Fabric Shower Curtain and Snap-in Liner Set
- A unique shower curtain: Society6
- A shower curtain that feels custom made: Barossa Design Herringbone & Striped Fabric Shower Curtain
- An eco-friendly fabric shower curtain: Quiet Town's Organic Canvas Shower Curtains
SEE ALSO: The best bath mats you can buy
A shower curtain with waterproof lining
The N&Y HOME Ultimate Waterproof Fabric Shower Curtain is an all-around winner for most bathrooms for its good looks and dual functionality at an unbeatable price.
The N&Y HOME Ultimate Waterproof Fabric Shower Curtain is simple but everything you'll ever need in a shower curtain. It's machine-washable and made of 100% polyester, but what sets it apart is the interior PVC-free waterproof coating. That means if you prefer the look and feel of fabric liners but need the waterproof benefit of plastic ones, this might be the closest thing to getting both.
Looks aside, this option checks the other boxes that most people want in their curtain, including a reinforced top header to prevent rips and tears and magnets in the bottom hem to help prevent billowing — or worse, sticking to your legs. The curtain is available in the standard 72-by-72-inch size, as well as four additional narrow and extra-long sizes.
This curtain is a workhorse that should meet your basic shower-curtain needs, and the clean white shade complements any bathroom decor. We're calling it the best bang for your buck.
Product Name: N&Y Home Ultimate Waterproof Fabric Shower Curtain
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A universal white shower curtain
With a plush textured style that fits into any bathroom, the cotton-poly mDesign Waffle Weave Fabric Shower Curtain in Stone White is a can't-go-wrong option at an affordable price point.
Scandi-inspired farmhouse? Modern minimalist city apartment? New baby's nursery en suite? Whatever your bathroom's scheme or theme, there's a white curtain to match, and chances are the mDesign Waffle Weave Fabric Shower Curtain will fit right in.
We have millions of standard-issue white curtains to choose from, but this neutral Stone White color is neither too cold nor too warm, so it should feel right at home in most bathrooms. The soft cotton-poly fabric has a slightly weighted heft that lets the curtain drape and hang naturally. And its classic waffle texture feels comforting, fresh, and clean while adding a subtle element of style.
This isn't a water-resistant curtain so you'll need a liner, but it's much lower maintenance than an all-natural cloth option. You'll also be able to throw it in a cold wash cycle and a low-heat tumble dry without worrying too much about shrinkage and wrinkles. It comes in the standard 72-by-72-inch size, plus longer 72-by-84 and 72-by-96 options for taller ceilings.
Product Name: mDesign Waffle Weave Fabric Shower Curtain
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A hookless shower curtain with detachable liner
Flex-on rings make the elegant Hookless Waffle Fabric Shower Curtain and Snap-in Liner Set extra easy to slip on and off the rod, and its snap-on liner doubles the convenience.
The cool thing about this Hookless curtain — aside from its clean, elegant design and its machine-washable, 100% polyester fabrication — is that hanging your curtain has never been faster or less annoying.
The rings on this curtain are designed to flex open, so you can easily slip your curtain onto the rod (or off again) in a matter of seconds. If that time-saving convenience isn't enough to convert you away from hooks forever, it also comes with a detachable liner that snaps onto the curtain and goes inside the tub, so there's no need to deal with a double rod (unless you want to, of course).
The curtain is available in a variety of styles, textures, designs, and fabrics (even satin) to match your aesthetic. Just be sure to check the care instructions if you opt for a different fabric, and keep in mind that certain styles only come in a 71-by-74-inch size.
Product Name: Hookless Waffle Fabric Shower Curtain and Snap-in Liner Set
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A unique shower curtain
With thousands of designs to choose from, Society6 is second to none for unique shower curtains by independent artists.
Sometimes you want a shower curtain that just blends into your bathroom. But if you want something that stands out, then you'll want to check out the curtains on Society6.
Society6 is a marketplace for creative artists to sell their work on everyday products like phone cases, office supplies, yoga mats, and — you guessed it — shower curtains. By making a purchase, you'll get to support independent artists like illustrator and muralist Alexandra Bowman, who created this gorgeous watercolor-style print, or poet Morgan Harper Nichols, who designs inspiring prints. And you'll hang up a beautiful, eye-catching piece of art in what's usually an under-decorated space.
The shower curtains themselves are made from machine-washable polyester, though some reviewers say the soft material has a plasticky feel to it. One thing to note is that they're only available in the 71 x 74 size, so you'll want to make sure that the bottom won't drag on your bathroom floor before buying.
Product Name: Society6 Blue Shower Curtain by Alexandra Bowman
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A shower curtain that feels custom made
The Barossa Design Herringbone & Striped Fabric Shower Curtain has an intricate design that will subtly dress up your bathroom.
The Barossa Design Herringbone & Striped Fabric Shower Curtain is priced like a basic fabric liner, but it looks and feels way more luxurious thanks to its sheen and woven texture.
Made from a machine-washable polyester blend, the curtain is water repellant and won't require an additional liner. And thanks to its textural pattern, silky finish, and cool white shade, it's a quick way to elevate any bathroom in need of a crisp and clean pick-me-up.
With 11 sizes to choose from — from shower stall options to extra wide and long options — this curtain might also be the best looking and most precise fit for your bathtub or shower.
Product Name: Barossa Design Herringbone & Striped Fabric Shower Curtain
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An eco-friendly fabric shower curtain
If you're on the hunt for a sustainable and responsibly made curtain with clean designs, you'll fall in love with Quiet Town's Organic Canvas Shower Curtains.
Let's cut to the chase: At $148, this isn't the kind of curtain you buy to replace two or three months down the line, but with Quiet Town — a small Brooklyn biz started by artists Lisa and Michael Fine — that's the whole point.
The brand is also committed to sustainability. Its machine-washable, 100% canvas shower curtains, which are also available through West Elm, are made of domestically milled cotton that is organically grown in the US. Then the curtains are dyed locally and handmade in Brooklyn. The same is true for its ultra-cool $62 EVA curtain.
There's nothing "assembly line" about their offerings, and that's a welcome departure.
Product Name: Quiet Town Orient Shower Curtain
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How to choose shower curtains
First, choose a material that's durable and easy to care for. According to founder of KE Interior Solutions founder Donna McMahon, there are three main types:
- Natural fabric: These are your cotton, linen, canvas, hemp, and bamboo blends. A good quality cotton curtain is a top choice for most people, according to McMahon. Simply toss it in the wash on laundry day to keep it in good shape (other fabrics may have specific care instructions, though). The drawback is that they can be expensive — up to $60 and sometimes more — and cannot be used without a liner. All-natural cloth curtains need a protective liner to stay dry and mildew-free.
- Polyester and polyblend: If you're on a budget, curtains made out of polyester are another long-lasting and low-maintenance choice. They're machine washable, quick-drying, and water-repellant, which means they don't need a liner though they can double as one.
- Plastic: Plastic curtains shouldn't go in the wash and instead must be regularly wiped and scrubbed clean. They're the cheapest option (most are under $20) and tend to be replaced frequently. They're the most waterproof material of the bunch, so they're usually used as liners but can work as standalone curtains, too. Be sure to steer away from PVC (polyvinyl chloride), cautions McMahon, which contains a mix of chlorine, phthalates, and other chemicals that give vinyl plastic curtains that pungent headache-inducing smell. Plastic curtains made with PE (polyethylene), PEVA (polyethylene vinyl acetate), and EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) are safer alternatives, but when in doubt, "search for 'PVC free' in product descriptions," says McMahon.
The rest is a matter of your personal taste. Natural fabric curtains drape beautifully and have a more elevated look, and polyester curtains can have a similar soft, woven-fabric feel.
In terms of colors, patterns, and prints, go with what makes you happy. If you really don't know where to start, McMahon said, "Pick a curtain design that has a touch of the prominent color in your bathroom tile or other finishes to tie it all together. And if the tones of your bathroom are soft and subtle, a curtain that's bolder in color can be the perfect contrast, too."
Keeping it simple with white though will never go out of style — just think of every hotel bathroom you've ever seen.
How to measure shower curtains
The standard size that fits most built-in tubs is 72 x 72 inches, but before you add your brand new curtain to your cart, break out the tape measure to make sure you're getting the proper size.
- Width: Measure along the entire length of the curtain rod and add 12 inches so the curtain can drape and extend nicely. For reference, the standard bathtub is about 60-inches long. Shower stalls will be narrower and clawfoot tubs will be longer because the curtain needs to fit around a full circular rod, says McMahon. For this, look for 180 x 70, or you can use two 72-by-72-inch curtains.
- Height: The curtain height will also vary depending on what kind of shower you have, but generally the bottom hem should float at least one to two inches above the floor. "This allows air to circulate and prevent mold and mildew growth," says McMahon. Measure from below the rod — or end of the shower curtain hooks — to the floor, then subtract at least two inches.
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