18 Ways to Re-Use Old Shower Curtains

August 14, 2011 Five comments View all articles in Re-Use-It

Our article on eco-friendly shower curtains informs you of some of the dangers quietly lurking behind these innocent-looking, foul-smelling plastic enclosures. It also mentions a number of alternatives that can reduce your family's exposure to the harsh chemical fumes posed by traditional polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic curtains. But what happens to the old shower curtain you replace with a non-off-gassing alternative? Traditional shower curtains aren't recyclable. So in order to keep them out of landfills, you can put them to use in any or all of the following ways.

Before putting your old shower curtain to further use, toss it in the washing machine with a little white vinegar and liquid laundry detergent. And to remove all the soap, add a little fabric softener during the appropriate cycle. Then just hang it outside to dry.


Line cabinet shelves: Turn your old vinyl shower curtain into easy-to-clean shelf liners by cutting it to shelf size and setting it in place. Secure the vinyl to each shelf using rubber cement, if you prefer. Just wipe them down with a damp sponge when it's time for cleaning.

Make a protective apron: To make a cobbler's style apron, with a vest and skirt, simply use pinking shears to cut the shower curtain to size. Then poke two holes at the top of the vest for cords or ribbons to fit through so you can tie the apron around your neck, and make two more holes in the sides for tying it around your waist. This type of apron is particularly useful for those extra messy household jobs!

Use as a painting drop cloth: Use your old shower curtain as a drop cloth the next time you paint a room. The material is heavier and more durable than the plastic drop cloths you buy at the hardware store.

Use for kids' painting projects: Lay an old shower curtain on the floor and let your kids enjoy their finger painting on top to avoid catastrophic messes.

Protect the floor beneath the high chair: Make cleanup a breeze by cutting a 36- to 48-inch square from an old shower curtain and placing it under the baby's high chair. You can make bibs out of the leftover scraps too.

Cover picnic tables and benches: Use an old shower curtain as a makeshift tablecloth (or as a tablecloth liner). You can also fold one over sticky or dirty benches and chairs.

Protect the table when cutting fabric: Put a shower curtain on your dining room table the next time you're cutting a pattern. The scissors will glide more easily and you'll protect the tabletop from nicks and scratches.

Block weeds in mulched beds: The next time you do any landscaping with gravel or bark chips, place an old shower curtain under the mulching material to prevent weeds from poking through.

Cover storage items: Old shower curtains make great off-season covers for stored patio furniture and barbecues. Just lash them with bungee cords for extra coverage.

Use for roadside emergencies: Keep an old shower curtain in the trunk of your car so you'll have something to sit on when changing a tire or making underbody repairs.

Take camping: Use an old shower curtain as a lightweight ground cloth for under a tent.

Make it into a banner: Use paint to transform your old shower curtain into a banner directing people to your garage sale or house party.

Line your car's trunk: Use an old shower curtain to line and protect the trunk of your car when transporting messy items like Christmas trees and potluck dinner entrees.

Line a cloak or simple coat: Cut a shower curtain to size and sew it between the outer layer and the fabric of your cloak or coat for a waterproof, windproof second lining. Or get really creative and make your own waterproof raincoat!

Protect a mattress: Old shower curtains make great, inexpensive mattress protectors for children. They're the perfect size for most children's beds, so all you have to do is place one under the sheets.

Cover your AC unit: Cut an old shower curtain and place it around your window unit or outside central air unit to keep it free of leaves and other debris during winter. Secure it with bungee cords.

Use it as a slip ‘n slide: Peg an old shower curtain on a small slope in your yard, run a hose down it, and have your kids slide down it for some inexpensive, outdoor fun.

Shield the entryway: Lay an old shower curtain next to the front door during winter months to protect against rain, mud, and snow brought in by shoes.


Marci on Sept. 27, 2011 at 10:01 a.m.

Those are such great ideas. I especially like the idea of using them for camping. The curtain is already dirty so who cares if it gets ruined camping. As for putting it under mulch - be careful. A vinyl curtain won't let rain water drain and you could end up with a mulchy mess on your hands.

Kelly on May 14, 2013 at 11:16 a.m.

So, we're supposed to use an off-gassing shower curtain as a bedliner or in our kitchen cabinets?

Alicia on June 22, 2013 at 11:14 a.m.

I had the same thought, Kelly. But I really like the banner, trunk liner, A/C cover, drop cloth and storage item ideas! I don't use soft vinyl for anything involving my kids (at least not knowingly...it is a sneaky material) but I would definitely reuse for those purposes. I had no idea what to do with my old one when I switched to fabric shower curtains a few years ago, so I trashed it. :-( Live and learn!

Jen on April 8, 2016 at 4:45 a.m.

What type of paint do you use that won't run and drip if making a banner?

Melani on Aug. 26, 2018 at 11:43 a.m.

If you're using it as a banner ASK the paint crew member at the paint location which paint to use. They know which paint adhere's to the surface of a plastic shower curtain.

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