Getting into the shower is supposed to be a cleansing, rejuvenating experience. If the curtain is giving off a "new shower curtain smell" or you have a dirty shower area, you can't focus on feeling fresh.
There’s no need to wait for a new curtain to decide to finish throwing off chemicals for you to feel comfortable. Show that stank to the (bathroom) door and get rid of it now.
Over time, the "new shower curtain smell should go away on its own, but you can help to speed the process along by putting some water in your bathtub. Grab some scented shampoo and put a couple of squirts into the water. Give it a swish with your hand. Place the shower curtain into the water and let it soak for about 10 minutes. Rinse with clean water and hang to dry.
Adding white vinegar to detergent is another way to deal with a stanky shower curtain. Fill the bathtub half full of warm water. Add a small amount of laundry detergent and a 1/2 cup of vinegar. Put the shower curtain in the water and leave it in place for 15 minutes. Rinse well and hang up.
You can wash a cloth shower curtain in your machine. Use the gentle cycle to avoid tearing the curtain. Once the cycle is finished, hang the shower curtain outside to dry. Letting the fresh air and sunshine get at it will help to freshen it up and get rid of any residual odors.
Baking soda is a tried and true remedy for getting smells out of a lot of household items, and it will work very nicely on your vinyl shower curtain. Fill a pail up to the half way point with warm water. Add a half cup of baking soda. Mix well. Grab a sponge or a clean rag and enter the tub area. Use one hand to hold a section of shower curtain taunt while you wipe it down with the baking soda and water solution. Rinse with clean water and allow to dry.
This solution will work on vinyl curtains to remove soap scum and mildew, which can be a breeding ground for bacteria and stank. Start by washing the curtain in your machine with a cup of your regular laundry soap and a cup of bleach. Add some dirty towels or a blanket to the load as well, and run the gentle cycle. The extra items will make it less likely that the vinyl will stick to itself and tear during the washing cycle. As soon as the washer has completed the spin cycle, take the shower curtain out the machine.
Place it in your bathtub in a salt water solution for an hour. This step will prevent mold and mildew from setting in. (If you already see mold on the shower curtain, use bleach and water to blast it out of there.) Hang the shower curtain up and close the curtain to allow it to dry thoroughly.
If you don't want to use ready-made chemicals on your shower curtain to deal with the stink, you can always whip up a batch of homemade cleaner. Start with two cups of water, and add a half cup of vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon of lavender essential oil and 1/4 teaspoon of tea tree oil. Put all the ingredients into a spray bottle. Shake well and spray onto the curtain every time you shower.
There are a number of bathroom cleaning products on the market that contain bleach. If you have a vinyl shower curtain, you could spray or wipe it down with one of them to get rid of the stank. You may not want to use it with a fabric curtain unless you have tried it in a test patch first. The bleach may lift off some of the dye from the pattern. If you decide to try this solution, be sure to rinse off the product immediately after use with clean water.