Shower Curtains Vs. Liners: What Are The Major Differences?

Benjamin Panico
by Benjamin Panico

You spend so little time in the shower per day that you may not put much effort into decorating it. However, it is important to know that shower curtains and liners are not totally interchangeable. Make sure your shower set-up is done properly to avoid water damage to the rest of your bathroom.

Shower liners go inside your tub to keep water in the shower. Shower curtains are not always waterproof, so you cannot use a curtain without a liner. However, you can use a shower liner by itself.

Below we cover the differences between shower curtains and liners, as well as the unique advantages of having both. Finally, we also have some helpful tips to make sure you are taking the best care of your bathroom.

What Is the Difference Between a Shower Curtain and a Shower Liner?

The most important difference between shower curtains and liners is the material. Shower liners are always made of waterproof materials. This is normally plastic or vinyl. More expensive liners can be made from polyester or nylon.

Shower curtains are not usually waterproof. Shower curtains can be made with anything from canvas or cotton to hemp or linen. They are typically humidity resistant, resisting just enough moisture to prevent mold.

But a shower curtain will not do a good job of keeping water in your shower where it belongs. It is for this reason that you cannot use a shower curtain in place of a liner. If you do not feel like getting both, you can use just a liner.

Why You Need a Shower Liner

Liners Are Protective

Shower liners sit on the inside of your shower basin. They provide a full floor to ceiling wall of waterproof material to keep your shower water contained. If you did not have a liner, the water from your shower would spray all over your bathroom. By the time you got out of your shower, your bath mat would already be soaked.

Shower liners typically have magnets or suction cups at the bottom of them in order to keep them in the tub. This also helps so it is not in your way when you are showering. Some liners have added mildew-resistant properties to extend their life.

The Benefits of Having a Shower Curtain

Curtains Are Decorative

Shower liners are usually a clear plastic material that doesn’t do much in the way of style. Some liners have a little texture on them to provide a bit of privacy. In reality, they tend to be quite ugly.

A shower curtain provides that extra aesthetic value. Many people match their showers curtains to rugs, towels, toothbrush holders, and facial tissue boxes. You can get a full set to give your bathroom a cohesive design.

Shower curtains also sit on the outside of the shower and extend from floor to ceiling. If you have an ugly shower or tub, curtains can definitely help to hide them. Even well maintained and attractive showers sometimes need curtains. If you have a lot of shower products and accessories, a curtain helps keep all this clutter out of sight.

Curtains Provide Additional Privacy

As noted above, most shower liners are clear, or transparent, and do not give you a feeling of privacy. Shower curtains provide added privacy. If someone were to enter the bathroom while you were showering, you would probably want a curtain.

This is especially helpful if you don’t mind your family members using the bathroom while you are in the shower. Maybe your partner needs to brush their teeth, or maybe your kids have a question for you. Curtains allow the bathroom to be open and usable to others, while still giving you that needed visual barrier.

Combining Shower Curtains and Liners Gives You the Best of Both Worlds

Yes, it’s true that there are some decorative shower liners. And yes, there are a few shower curtains that are made from waterproof materials. However, both of these products are less common than the typical varieties. They are also more expensive than their normal counterparts, and probably more expensive than the sum of both standard products.

Using both a shower curtain and a shower liner gives you the decoration you want and the water barrier you need. Curtains and liners are meant to be used together. They should sit on the same shower hooks. Then, you put the liner inside your shower and the curtain on the outside.

This gives you the proper waterproof coverage to keep your bathroom dry. It also allows the privacy and attractive design of a floor to ceiling curtain. If you had a waterproof curtain, you would need to put it inside your shower like the liner. Then, the bottom of your tub would show, and it wouldn’t look as good.

Tip One: Hang the Shower Curtain and Liner on the Same Hooks

There is no sense in buying two sets of shower hooks for just one shower. First, it will be much more difficult to install and take down two separate pieces. Second, there is a good chance your hooks will get annoyingly tangled up every time you go to shower.

Third and finally, your shower rod is only so long! The more hooks you have, the less room there is to fully open the curtain and liner. Therefore, you should hang your shower curtain and liner on the same hooks. Make sure to match up the holes! This will help keep the curtain and liner together and save you quite a headache.

Tip Two: Use Magnets in the Shower Curtain and Liner

Have you ever had the shower liner clinging to your legs in the shower? It’s super annoying. If you get a liner with suction cups or magnets, it will stick to the inside wall of the tub better. This will be more convenient for you, and it will help the liner function properly.

If you do not have a liner with magnets in it, you can easily attach suction cups or magnetic tape. It also helps to do this with the shower curtain so it hangs straighter. The extra weight will keep it in place and wrinkle-free.

Tip Three: Wash Your Shower Curtain and Liner Once a Month

Have you ever washed your shower curtain? You should! Though shower curtains are usually moisture-resistant, they can accumulate a little mildew over time. Washing and drying them regularly will extend their lifespan by a surprising amount.

You can buy shower liners that are washable as well! This is a great way to save the environment and a bit of money in the long run. Non-washable shower liners should be replaced once a year. So while they are a bit cheaper upfront, a washable liner is a better investment.

Shower LinerPrice Range
Washable$10 – $30
Standard plastic$3 – $10

Tip Four: Spray Your Plastic Shower Liner

If you do not have a washable shower liner, you can extend its life a little by spraying it regularly. Make a cleaning solution out of a mixture of water and white vinegar. You could also use bleach. Spray the solution on the liner, specifically the bottom, to target any mildew or scum-ridden areas.

Also, when you are about to get out of the shower, aim the showerhead at your shower liner for thirty seconds. This will allow any shampoo or soap to rinse off the liner. This quick and easy daily chore will keep your liner cleaner and save time in the long run.

Tip Five: Make Sure Your Plastic Shower Liner Dries Fully

Another great way to extend a plastic shower liner’s lifespan is to make sure it dries fully. If you just leave it alone after a shower, it will cling to the wall of the tub. The moisture stuck between those surfaces will sit and allow mildew to develop on your liner.

You can take the liner out of the shower or push it away from the tub wall. However you do it, you want to make sure the shower liner has the opportunity to dry fully between showers. This will prevent mildew from building up and keep your shower liner clean for longer.

Related Questions

What kinds of shower curtains do not require liners?

There are some shower curtains that are waterproof that allow you to forgo a shower liner. You want to look for a shower curtain that is made of polyester or that has a vinyl inside lining. Make sure you get one that specifically says it is waterproof. Otherwise, you will end up with a moldy shower curtain real fast.Finally, keep in mind that you will need to leave it inside the shower. As previously mentioned, this is the only way for a liner to function properly and keep your bathroom dry. This aesthetic isn’t for everyone, especially if your tub or shower pan isn’t particularly attractive.

Should you leave the shower curtain and liner open or closed after a shower?

You should always close the shower curtain and liner after you get out of the shower. If you leave it open, it will be folded on itself. The water trapped between these folds will not dry thoroughly and mold and mildew will definitely develop here. Therefore, make sure you close the shower curtain and liner as far as possible after a shower so it can dry.

How can you make your shower feel more spacious?

There are curved shower rods that pull the shower curtain out a bit and give you more breathing room. While the base of the shower isn’t actually larger, it does make the shower feel a bit more spacious.These curved shower rods may require a slightly longer shower curtain and liner than you currently have. It will also obviously require a bit of work to take down the old rod and install the new one. However, having this extra room for your arms in the shower can definitely be worth it for some people.

Benjamin Panico
Benjamin Panico

Benjamin is a freelance writer and graphic designer. He is passionate about DIY projects and finding creative ways to upcycle things headed for the landfill. Based in Oakland, CA, Benjamin enjoys playing guitar and gardening.

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