Shower Liner vs. Shower Curtain: What’s The Difference?

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Beach themed shower curtain Design

Are you planning on sprucing up your bathroom? One of the most common bathroom accessories that you will most likely have on your list is the shower curtain. Now, you are at the aisle to pick yourself a lovely shower curtain and find out that there are shower liners and curtain liners on display as well. Well, what is the difference between the two and which one should you buy? Should you buy both? Knowing the difference between the two will help you decide on this little problem that you found yourself in. 

Basically, a shower liner is a sheet that you place inside the shower stall or bathtub to prevent water from splashing onto the bathroom floor. On the other hand, a curtain liner is more of a decorative accessory that lines the curtain and adds a bit of privacy by adding an extra layer to the shower curtain. 

Let us go into further detail on the specific differences between these two home accessories.  

Differences Between the Shower Liner and Curtain Liners

If you wish to optimize the functionality of your bathroom thoroughly, understanding the difference between the shower liner and shower curtain is mandatory. Both the shower liner and curtain liner can work on their own, but to realize the potential of both, they need to work together. 

Shower Liners

As noted earlier, shower liners are waterproof and prevent water from the shower or bathtub from splashing all over the bathroom floor. As such, shower liners are made from waterproof materials, with the cheaper ones made from plastic. 

More expensive variations of the shower liner can be made from vinyl or other fabrics and are mildew and mold-resistant. Additionally, some shower liners will incorporate magnets or weights at the bottom to further minimize the space for water to seep into. 

Shower liners can be used on their own without the need for a shower curtain. However, the thing about shower liners is they are not aesthetically pleasing and focus more on function over fashion. So if you are going for a specific vibe in your bathroom, you might want to install both a shower curtain and liner.

Shower Curtain Liners

Epica Strongest Heavy-Duty Clear Vinyl Shower Curtain Liner –72 inches x 72 inches (Clear)
Epica Strongest Heavy-Duty Clear Vinyl Shower Curtain Liner (Image: Amazon)

Also known as drapery liners, this accessory is often attached to the curtain, similar to the shower liner. Some variants can be hung separately via additional hook loops or clips. As the name implies, curtain liners are used to line the curtain and give it a tidy appearance. 

Curtain liners are made from fabric and are not waterproof, which means you should not place them anywhere near a water source such as a shower or tap. 

Do You Need Both a Shower Curtain and a Liner?

While you can just use both and get done with it, there are advantages and disadvantages to the different setups that you can use. Below are the pros and cons of using either one or both in your bathroom. 

Shower Liner Only

Folded Shower curtain liner


  • Easy to clean and maintain.
  • Provides enough transparency if you need to supervise children when they are taking a bath/shower.  


  • Pretty basic clear plastic appearance does nothing for the interior décor. 
  • Lack of privacy due to its see-through material. 
  • Mold and mildew are pretty visible, so regular cleaning is a must. 

Shower Curtain Only

Cotton Shower Curtain Offers a Sleek Appearance


  • Improved privacy due to the opaque material.
  • Excellent variety of designs available.


  • Susceptible to mold and mildew stains. 
  • It tends to use lightweight fabric which can blow over with a slight breeze.

Both Shower Liner and Curtain


  • Excellent privacy with the option of using the shower liner only.
  • You can pick a decorative shower curtain with the shower liner.
  • Improved water resistance and longer shelf life.


  • You will need to maintain and clean both the shower curtain and liner.

As you can see, the third setup that incorporates both shower liner and curtain liner is the best option to take due to the versatility it provides. 

Materials Used in Shower and Curtain Liners

There are several choices for shower curtains and curtain liners in the market that utilize different materials. Each will have its own strengths and weaknesses. Below are some of the best options available.

Budget Option: Vinyl Shower and Curtain Liner

Epica Strongest Heavy-Duty Clear Vinyl Shower Curtain Liner –72 inches x 72 inches (White)
Epica Strongest Heavy-Duty Clear Vinyl Shower Curtain Liner (Image: Amazon)

If you are looking for something affordable, we recommend you go with vinyl liners as it is not only cheap but also quite durable and easy to clean. However, avoid vinyl shower curtain liners containing PVC as it is considered toxic and dangerous for your health. Instead, look for liners that use PEVA. 

PEVA is a waterproof polyester material, affordable and relatively safe for your health as it is not toxic. PEVA shower liners are often machine washable, making maintenance easier. Also, PEVA has an opaque texture which adds a good deal of privacy. 

Best for Bathroom Décor: Cotton and Linen Shower and Curtain Liner

Bean Products Cotton Stall Shower Curtain (Natural), [36" x 74"] | All Natural Materials - Made in USA | Works with Tub, Bath and Stall Showers
Bean Products Cotton Stall Shower Curtain (Image: Amazon)

A cotton shower curtain is best used with a shower curtain liner to enhance its aesthetic qualities. This is one of those instances wherein a liner is a must since cotton absorbs water instead of wicking it. Cotton can also be quite susceptible to mold and mildew buildup, another reason to pair a liner with this type of shower curtain

Cotton shower curtains come in a wide variety of designs, and you are bound to find one that will fit into your bathroom’s aesthetics. 

Alternatively, a linen shower curtain is a good choice for those who want something more rigid than cotton. However, linen shower curtains are more expensive and can shrink when washed.

Eco-Friendly Option: Hemp

Organic Hemp Shower Curtain Full Size (73.5"x72") - Terracotta
Organic Hemp Shower Curtain (Image: Amazon)

For those who prefer an environment-friendly option, curtain liners use hemp as their primary material. The hemp shower curtain is durable and features a neutral brown color to fit bathrooms that incorporate an ‘Earthly’ design. 

While hemp shower delivers a unique and classy aesthetic, it is the most expensive option available. To help balance out the cost, hemp shower curtains have excellent anti-bacterial properties and are 100% waterproof. 

Hemp shower curtains are high-maintenance as well and will require regular cleaning and washing. Fortunately, most hemp shower curtains are machine washable. 

What Type of Shower Curtain Does Not Require a Liner?

If you wish to avoid using a shower curtain liner altogether, we recommend you go with a shower curtain made from polyester or vinyl. These two types of shower curtain materials will have no need for a liner as they are already water-resistant. But, of course, to further ensure that water won’t spill onto the floor, a liner is a necessity. 

Alternatively, make sure that your vinyl or polyester shower curtain comes with a weighted bottom to ensure it stays in place. Other shower curtains that are waterproof also feature magnetic weights that will further ensure they will provide an adequate seal for water spills.