Shower curtains exist in a variety of sizes, colors, and materials to fit all types of needs!
If you are renovating your bathroom to make it more user-friendly for aging needs, or are trying to optimize the bathtub or shower space for someone using a walker or wheelchair, it is likely you will find it necessary replace the current shower curtain with a different style.
The most common types of shower curtains used for accessibility needs are described below.
Accessible Shower Curtain Types
1. Shower Curtain for Curbless Showers
Curbless showers (aka thresholdless showers or roll-in showers) lack a threshold between the shower stall floor and the bathroom floor. This makes it possible for a person using a wheeled mobility device, such as a walker or wheelchair, to enter and exit with ease, but it also makes it harder to contain the water inside the shower stall. One helpful means to prevent the water from escaping a curbless-style shower is to select and hang a long, heavy shower curtain.
- Ideal Shower Curtain Length: We recommend choosing a curtain in a length that will nearly graze your shower floor, but it should not touch the ground because it is more likely to develop mildew if it rests against the wet shower floor. When picking the length, make sure to take into consideration the way your shower curtain gets attached to the rod. Some shower curtains get attached via clips, rings, or by threading the rod through holes located at the top at the top of the curtain, each of which can affect how far down the curtain hangs.
- Weighted Shower Curtain Options: Weighted shower curtains can come in two forms: You can select a shower curtain with small weights (usually magnets or lead) sewn into the hem along the bottom edge of the curtain or select a curtain made from a heavier material (i.e. hemp or heavy-duty cotton fabric).
2. Shower Curtain for Tub Benches
A bathtub bench can make it safer and easier to get in and out of the tub, but they come with one significant drawback: they prevent the shower curtain from being tucked inside the bathtub, making it more difficult to keep the water inside. There are two remedies for this problem: You can modify your existing shower curtain by cutting slits in the side so it can be more easily tucked around the bench, or you can order a special shower curtain that is pre-cut to allow the curtain to be tucked around and between the sections of the bath bench.
3. Shower Curtain for Specialized Bathtubs
If you have purchased a specialized bathtub, for example a slide-in tub or a walk-in tub, they often come equipped with a handheld showerhead so you can rinse your hair and shoulders. To prevent inadvertently spraying the water outside the tub, it can be helpful to hang a short shower curtain around the tub.
Most standard shower curtains have a minimum length of 70″. There are a small number of short curtains available in lengths ranging between 47″ to 64″ in length. Alternative options for achieving a short shower curtain include: buy a longer curtain and cut it to the length you need or contact a shower curtain manufacturer and request a custom-length curtain.
4. Shower Curtains that Benefit Caregivers
Do you provide care for someone that needs assistance to take a seated shower? If so, a half-height shower curtain or half-height shower door are both options that are designed to help make it easier to for caregivers to assist with the task of bathing, while themselves staying as dry as possible throughout the process.
Many people additionally opt to hang a second full-length shower curtain on the interior (just to the inside of the half-height curtain or half-height door), providing other members of the household with the option to stand up while showering.
5. Shower Curtain With Pockets!
Is your shower lacking in good places to store your soap, shampoo and razor? Or, do you sit on a shower seat while bathing and have difficulty reaching everything you need? If so, you may want to consider a shower curtain/liner with pockets. Yes. There really are shower curtains that come fully equipped with handy pockets. Who would have thought?! The pockets are usually made from a solid piece of plastic or a mesh-style material. The mesh-style will be less prone to soap residue and mildew building up in the bottom of the pocket.
Shower Curtain Materials
Shower curtains can be purchased in a variety of different materials including polyester, hemp, linen, cotton, and vinyls such as polyethylene vinyl acetate (PEVA), ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), and polyvinyl chloride (PVC).
- Avoid PVC! Everyone should try to avoid purchasing shower curtains made from PVC, especially persons with fragrance allergies and respiratory problems. PVC is known to contain volatile organic compounds that can pose a significant threat to your health. Symptoms from PVC exposure include: headaches, nausea, ear, nose and throat irritation, and even central nervous system damage. Most (but not all) shower curtains available on the market today do contain PVC, so check the labeling carefully.
- Better Options: Select a shower curtain made from a material that is not known to emit high levels of toxic chemicals into the air, such as hemp, linen, heavy-duty cotton, polyester or curtains made from chloride-free vinyl like PEVA and EVA. Of these options, polyester, hemp and PEVA are said to be the most mildew-resistant.
Add Some Humor!
A disability or age-related problem may make it necessary to rely on another person for support when bathing or with stepping in and out of the tub. It should come as no surprise that most people aren’t comfortable asking a parent, child, sibling, or hired stranger to assist with the private task of bathing. Adding a shower curtain with a humorous picture or fun design can add a positive talking point and an element to help take the edge off of what many perceive to be an awkward situation.
The Homeability Advice™
If your vision is limited, select a curtain with a color that contrasts with the walls and nearby fixtures to help maximize depth perception. If the lighting in the bathroom is poor, however, you may want to opt to add a clear shower curtain instead in order to make best use of the available light in the bathroom while showering and instead paint the surrounding walls in a contrasting color.
A shower curtain that contains PVC can off-gas noxious, harmful chemicals for up to a month (or more) after it has been removed from the packaging. If you cannot find a shower curtain made from a natural, PVC-free material that meets your needs and are relegated to using one containing PVC, we recommend using one of the following two methods to help reduce exposure to the noxious chemicals:
- Hang It: Hang the curtain outside on a clothesline or in a well ventilated area for a month before transitioning it to your bathroom.
- Wash It Before Using: Yes. Most plastic shower curtains can be washed. If the label doesn’t specify whether it can be washed or not, confirm with the manufacture that it is OK to do so. Experts recommend washing the curtain with a few towels on a gentle-wash setting and adding 1/2 cup baking soda to your detergent during the wash cycle, and 1/2 cup vinegar during the rinse cycle.