Why Are Shower Curtains Psycho, Anyway?
Yes, the Cling is a Thing!
Standing tall at 6'3", I often felt cramped in my shower. Turns out I wasn't alone -- not in a Psycho kind of way -- but that millions of bathers also suffer the daily shower curtain attack!
Too long have shower curtains crowded our space! Too long has the dreaded shower curtain effect brought that cold, wet curtain up against our bodies!
Today, we push back.
Naturally, the idea came while standing in the shower: I wondered how I could curve the curtain, not the rod? After all, the curved rod was such an expense and remodeling hassle! That was my Eureka Moment. Read full story here.
Why Do Curtains Cling, Anyway?
Answer: Because nothing holds them back.
We've all experienced the dreaded shower curtain effect: you turn on your shower and the cold wet curtain clings to your body. Waterflow in your shower causes airflows, whereby air tends to follow behind each water droplet as it zips though the air. So the air from the outside is trying to get inside to follow the rapid waterflow. Since you’re standing in a 3-walled enclosure, the only way the outside air can get inside your shower is by going under or around your curtain. That’s why the curtain swells inwards and clings to you.
If you’re really curious about why water causes airflow, and why that, in turn, causes annoying curtain cling, look up “Bernoulli Principle”. It’s the same theory of fluid dynamics that makes a plane wing fly: high air pressure on one side, low air pressure on the other.
This phenomenon was discussed on NPR's All Things Considered in a segment by Joe Palca back in 2006. The story was amusing, especially for exposing how there actually had been some measure of scientific controversy as to what actually caused the curtain to swell inward:
Earlier coverage includes this 2001 gem in Scientific American, where fluid dynamics simulations led to the vortex theory.