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Switching out your shower curtain is a simple way to instantly upgrade your bathroom decor without breaking the bank. In addition to being an aesthetic game-changer, shower curtains and shower curtain liners are also a necessity for protecting your floor from overflowing water. So whether you’re in the market for a creative change or just need to stop flooding your bathroom, there's a splashy solution for you below!

How do I pick the right bathroom shower curtain?

While it is important to consider your current design, don't feel completely limited by the bathroom decor you presently have. You can mix styles, materials and genres — you just need to pick colors and patterns that complement the current space! For example, if you already have a colorful bathroom (think 1950s era pink and teal tile), don't try to compete. Pick a neutral color, but go for an interesting fabric shower curtain texture or pattern, such as ruffles or embroidery. On the opposite side of the spectrum, if your bathroom is more reminiscent of, say, a sterile lab than a room in a home, you could definitely use some decorative flair in the shower accessories department. Inject some energy into the space with a colorful, unique shower curtain or liven up the area with a themed piece, such as an octopus shower curtain. If your tub lacks sufficient sun, utilize a clear shower curtain to let in a little extra light and make the room feel larger.

What size should my shower curtain and liner be?

The general rule for determining what size shower curtain and accompanying liner you need is to measure the entire length of the curtain rod and then add 12 inches — this ensures that the curtain can reach the wall on either side.

Based on an average bathtub size of 60 inches long, plus the aforementioned additional 12 inches, the standard shower curtain is 72” x 72”; this size usually provides enough water-splashing protection on the left and the right, and suspends down long enough to fall at least two to three inches below the ledge of the bathtub, providing a cohesive look.

Because a stall shower is naturally compact, the typical stall shower curtain is narrow and streamlined as well, coming in at around 54” x 78” — this is both wide and long enough to drape down gracefully, cover the entirety of the shower and provide floor protection from errant water droplets.

If you prefer the floor to ceiling look, consider a long shower curtain, which can range anywhere from 70” x 84” to 72” x 96”. Extra wide shower curtains are around 108” wide and ideal for clawfoot or oversized bathtubs — these will ensure that you have coverage on both sides, even with expansive units.

Shower curtain liner dimensions are determined the same way shower curtains are; typically, you’ll simply need a liner that’s the exact same size as your curtain!

What material should my shower curtain be?

Bathroom curtains come in a variety of organic and man-made materials such as polyester, cotton, vinyl and linen. While there are pros and cons to each, answering a few questions before delving into your shopping will help you narrow down your choices. First of all, how much are you willing to spend? Secondly, do you want your bathroom shower curtain to provide full privacy or are you more concerned with things like patterns, colors and overall aesthetic contribution? Do you want something simple that you can easily maintain through machine washing, or would you consider an ornate shower curtain that requires dry cleaning?

Polyester shower curtains are affordable, easily obtainable and available in a huge array of colors and patterns. Waterproof and resistant to mold and mildew, they also are shrink and crease immune, easily recyclable and low maintenance — they can be machine washed and dried in a dryer. On the flip side, polyester is man-made and synthetic, which is not considered particularly eco-friendly; people also cite the fact that polyester doesn’t feel or look as luxurious as natural materials.

Cotton and linen shower curtains are comprised of natural fabrics and come in a variety of colors, prints, weaves and thicknesses. They look beautiful, feel softer than synthetic materials and are considered to be highly eco-friendly. However, these shower curtains are more expensive and pretty much the opposite of water repellant — they absorb water quickly and take a long time to dry — which makes them the perfect host for mold and mildew if they are not cared for properly and consistently. Lastly, one word of caution — if you’re a fan of candles in the bathroom, it might be best to stay away from these materials as they are highly flammable!

Vinyl shower curtains have a lot of controversy surrounding them due to their traditional containment of phthalates, which is a chemical responsible for making plastics more flexible, and is found in products like medical IV bags, toys, car interiors and plastic food containers. However, vinyl shower curtains are ideal for repelling water and keeping your floor dry, so alternatives such as PEVA and EVA are popular alternatives.

PEVA stands for polyethylene vinyl acetate and EVA stands for ethylene vinyl acetate; neither of these materials contain the polyvinyl chloride (PVC) that traditional vinyl does, therefore making them safer and more environmentally conscious choices. Both of these materials are considered vinyl, although many people refer to them as “plastic” so as not to confuse them with the older, PVC-containing material.

Vinyl shower curtains are durable, long-lasting, inexpensive, fade-resistant and low maintenance. The material is soft to the touch and vinyl shower curtains come in a variety of colors, sizes and patterns, making them popular choices for kids bathrooms. The few cons you should consider? If you do not purchase a curtain with reinforced grommets, the vinyl can tear easily, and many people consider the vinyl alternatives to only be “semi” green. Vinyl is also the ideal material for shower curtain liners given its water repelling properties.

Don't forget about a shower curtain liner, rod and rings!

Whether you’re considering a novelty mermaid shower curtain or a classic black and white shower curtain, don't forget all the accessories that will keep it hanging and functional! A solid, sturdy shower curtain rod is a must-have; make sure it fits perfectly in the space so it doesn't bend or fall when a little weight is applied. Unless you choose a hookless shower curtain, you'll also need to invest in a few shower curtain hooks or rings that hang off the rod and keep the piece intact and easily slidable from one side to another. Finally, depending on which material you choose, you’ll need a shower curtain liner to prevent mold and water residue buildup. Some shower curtain sets come with the liner included, but if you choose a fabric that is not inherently water-resistant, make sure you add that crucial liner to the water-facing side to keep your purchase in tip top shape for as long as possible!