Most shower curtains are made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride). This type of material is a very toxic kind of plastic that releases a chemical smell and VOCs (volatile organic compounds). PVC has been linked to liver cancer, lung cancer, lymphoma, and leukemia, mainly due to a very toxic chemical it contains called vinyl chloride. Therefore reducing your exposure to it at home is very important for your health. Fortunately, there are safe alternatives to PVC shower curtains, and I’ll discuss them here. I’ve prepared a list of different materials that aren’t toxic to humans to help you find the best non toxic shower curtains, have a look:
Hen fabric is a strong, heavy, tightly woven that doesn’t let water leak through which makes it the only shower curtain fabric that doesn’t need a vinyl liner. Although it does absorb a little bit of water, it dries quickly, so you don’t have to worry it will become damp and moldy. What makes it one of the best non toxic shower curtain materials is that it’s naturally bacteria- and fungi-resistant.
As it’s a completely natural material, free from toxic chemicals and plastic, hemp shower curtains also some of the most eco-friendly shower curtains out there, as they’re completely biodegradable. Hemp shower curtains are more expensive than their synthetic counterparts, but if you’re looking for the most natural and plastic-free options, they’re a great investment. On top of that, they’re machine-washable. Take a look at the best hemp shower curtains below:
Cotton used in shower curtains is tightly woven, so it won’t let water leak through. However, it absorbs more water than hemp and also takes longer to dry. Another disadvantage of cotton is that it can become moldy and develop mildew, so it’s a good idea to use it with a nylon shower curtain liner. Although cotton is an eco-friendly and non toxic choice, hemp curtains seem much more durable and practical.
However, if you’re still interested in cotton shower curtains, be sure to check Lifekind Organic Cotton Curtains that use GOTS-certified organic cotton, they claim that their shower curtains need no plastic liner, perhaps because their cotton fabric is very tightly woven, take a look:
Linen is another alternative to hemp, but it’s got similar disadvantages to cotton. Like cotton, linen absorbs more water and it’s prone to develop mildew and mold. So if you opt for a linen shower curtain, I recommend using it with a nylon shower liner. At the same time, a linen shower curtain is an eco-friendly choice as it’s fully biodegradable. Lush Decor Shower Curtains are made from a cotton and linen blend. They’re beautifully designed and they will look good with shabby chic, modern, or farmhouse decor. Take a look:
A shower liner will make your natural shower curtain water resistant, but water resistance comes at a price. Water resistant materials are synthetic and they contain many potentially toxic chemicals, such as formaldehyde, dioxins and phthalates. PVC is known to be one of the most toxic shower curtain materials, but you can find some less toxic PVC alternatives, the least toxic of them being nylon:
Nylon is another machine-washable synthetic material used in shower curtains and liners. However, this material absorbs more water than polyester and takes longer to dry. Nylon is a petroleum-based material, but its polymers are considered nonreactive so they’re not toxic to humans. However, as nylon is not waterproof some chemicals have to be added in order to make it water-resistant and those chemicals can be toxic. Take a look at our picks:
Polyethylene vinyl acetate (PEVA) is considered a safer alternative to PVC because it doesn’t contain chlorine. It’s still a synthetic chemical made of petrochemicals and VOCs (volatile organic compounds), so it’s not completely safe, but it seems less toxic than PVC. At the same time, it retains other PVC properties: water resistance and low price. Take a look at PEVA shower curtains below:
Polyster is a very versatile synthetic material that dries pretty fast and doesn’t absorb much water. It’s easy to maintain as it’s machine washable and it can be used as a liner along with a cotton or linen shower curtain. However, polyester is a material that releases toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde, perfluorochemicals, and antimony, especially when heated. Check some polyester shower curtains below:
If you want to create a green home, free from toxic chemicals, buying non-toxic shower curtains is the way to go. Conventional shower curtains made from PVC have been shown to release toxins that can cause cancer and an array of health issues in adults and children. Most of these toxic substances are released into the air and we absorb them by breathing them in. It means that they make your indoor air quality unhealthy and full of toxic chemicals that you and your family are exposed to every day.
Replacing PVC with natural materials such as linen or hemp will help you reduce this exposure and improve air quality at your home. Hemp shower curtains seem to be the best choice as they’re naturally microbial and their tight weave prevents water absorption and lets the fabric dry quickly. Other natural shower curtain materials, such as cotton and linen absorb much more water which makes them prone to become moldy and unhygienic. To avoid that, you’ll have to use a synthetic liner made of PEVA, polyester or nylon.
These synthetic shower curtains can also be used on their own. They come with many advantages: they’re waterproof, machine washable and mold resistant. However, although these materials are not as toxic as PVC, they’re still full of potentially harmful substances, so it’s best to avoid them whenever possible.
Read More: What Are the Best Eco-Friendly Rugs?