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What is a Curtain Liner?

By Mary Ellen Popolo
Updated May 16, 2024
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A curtain liner does pretty much what its name implies — it lines a curtain. Both shower curtains and window curtains sometimes use a curtain liner, though in different ways and for different reasons. In addition, both types of liners are typically made of different materials.

Window curtain liners serve many purposes, including blocking out light, soundproofing, or insulating a window. Curtain liners — or drapery liners, as they are also called — are generally attached to the back of the curtain or drape. They sometimes are hung separately using the same curtain hooks or clips, or they can be attached to the back of the curtains. Some types of curtains or drapes come already lined. Although curtain liners are most common on drapery style curtains, other types of window treatments, such as valances, can also be lined.

Choosing the best window curtain liner depends on why you want to line the curtains. Thermal material is best used for insulating a window against drafts. Blackout material is specially made of a thick material that prohibits light from passing through. If you want to line your curtains yourself, curtain liner material can usually be found in fabric stores. Drapery and curtain liners also come pre-made in designated widths and lengths and can be purchased where window treatments are sold.

A shower curtain liner is used to line a shower curtain. It is most commonly a separate piece of material that is hung together with the shower curtain on the same rod. Its purpose is to keep water contained inside the shower or tub. This is done by keeping the liner on the inside of the shower or tub, while the curtain remains on the outside.

While the shower curtain is decorative and often matches the bathroom decor, the shower curtain liner is functional. Most often made of vinyl, plastic or cotton, the liner is usually nondescript and lacks a design, frills or embellishments. They do sometimes come in colors to help them blend in behind the shower curtain.

Having a shower curtain liner that fits your shower area accurately is important. An ill-fitting curtain liner will not work properly. A too small liner will allow water to escape from the shower, while a too large liner will be in the way when you are showering. Measuring for a liner will ensure that you buy the proper size. Use a measuring tape to measure both the width and length of the shower area before purchasing.

Proper care for shower curtain liners is important. They can easily become moldy and mildewed from their frequent exposure to water. The best way to minimize the build-up of soap scum, mold and mildew is to pull both the shower curtain and the liner fully open after it has been used, allowing it to air dry. Shower curtain liners can sometimes be washed in the washing machine. Check the label for care instructions.

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Discussion Comments
By Heavanet — On Jan 06, 2015

@raynbow- I use to do the same as you, and got fed up trying to keep my inexpensive, vinyl shower curtain liners clean and free of rips and tears. I decided to switch to a cotton liner, and I have been very happy with it.

Though a bit more costly than a vinyl shower curtain liner, a cotton shower curtain liner is very durable. I also like how easy mine is to clean. About once a month, I wash my liner with other linens. It comes out fresh and clean every time, and ready to reuse again and again.

By Raynbow — On Jan 05, 2015

I usually use cheap, vinyl shower curtain liners because I am on a budget. However, I am wondering if I am really saving money because this type of liner is hard to clean and has to be replaced frequently.

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