Pink Shower Mold, What is It? How do I get rid of it?

Dear Home Ec 101,

We keep getting these pale pinkish stains on the shower curtains and at the base of the tub…
Our neighbor has the same issue, and he thinks it’s metal in the Mt P. water supply.
Could it be mold?

I’ve found a weak bleach solution or most any bath cleaner completely fades the stains without much scrubbing – but the spots will return in less than a week if I don’t spray on a near-daily basis.

Signed,
~Pretty in Pink

Heather says:

You are right on target cleaning with a weak bleach solution.  The microorganism behind your bathroom cleaning quandary is Serratia marcescens and it loves damp environments.  The bacteria was once used for experimentation due to its coloration (it made it easy to track growth, even without a microscope).  However it has been found to cause urinary tract infections and rarely pneumonia.

Chlorine is an effective preventative and will wipe it out temporarily.  Unfortunately chlorine evaporates more quickly than water and eventually the airborne bacteria will reproduce in sufficient numbers to create the pink stain in showers, and in toilets that are used infrequently.  Remember to periodically clean your showerhead if you notice the telltale pink discoloration.

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Comments

  1. Can I just say, you guys rock!

  2. Fed up with pink says:

    Is there any septic-tank friendly way to get rid of the pink monster? At my house, we have a septic tank, and can't use bleach for fear of killing the friendly bacteria that keeps our tank from filling up and overflowing. Forgive me, but I'll take pink in the shower over sewage in the lawn any day. Our solution has been scrubbing the caulking frequently with a toothbrush, and scraping out and replacing the caulking every other month when it gets too bad. We would really like some other solution to this repeat problem.

    • Dry everything in your shower after every shower! We never get mold anymore since we began doing this a couple years a go.

  3. Chlorine bleach that goes into the drain system can kill beneficial bacteria in the septic tank. Oxygen bleach actually helps this bacteria!

  4. Erica is right on that count. The other thing to consider is the amount of ventilation that your bathroom is getting. My inlaws had the same problem and put in a timer controlled fan in their bathroom (it was an old house without any fan). It helped greatly in reducing the amount of mold and the frequency of cleaning required.
    My recent post Carpet Mold