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?

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

clean shower mold

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. 

bathroom cleaning

Tips to keep your bathroom squeaky clean!

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.

If you can keep your bathroom well-ventilated, that will help. Run the exhaust fan while and after showering, leave shower doors open  or in your case curtain partially open. The pink slime won’t grow as quickly in less than ideal conditions.

If you live in a humid area, a dehumidifier may help reduce the overall humidity of your home. 

Still have a question about your bathroom? Email helpme@home-ec101.com.



9 Comments

  1. Julie Roberts on June 3, 2016 at 9:32 am

    Is there a pet friendly way to treat this? I’m in a rental and do not have control over several things: the fan does not work (we use a plug in desk fan instead), the door does not latch particularly well (if the cats lean on it, they can easily open it), and the tub faucet has a slow drip that the cats consider their personal fountain.

  2. Jukia on March 30, 2016 at 3:49 pm

    Hi, not sure if this is the same but we have a pink foamy looking something that seems to be growing out of our actual shower unit? It’s easy to clean off but grows back? Really freaky like something out of a sci fi movie!! Any ideas it’s really freaking me out!
    Cheers j xx

    • Heather Solos on May 30, 2016 at 10:58 am

      Out of the shower head? It sounds like it. You can remove the head and clean it thoroughly. That may help for a while. With this stuff, everything is temporary.

  3. Rob on March 26, 2016 at 12:33 pm

    It appears that pink shower curtain syndrome can be caused by bacteria and by mould. The only way I can think of to determine which is the cause is to try the bleach method first, and if that doesn’t work, try the anti-mould approach.
    Any other suggestions?

  4. Alfred Stephens on February 23, 2011 at 8:22 am

    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

  5. Erica on May 30, 2010 at 9:01 pm

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

  6. Fed up with pink on October 20, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    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.

    • Sarah B on March 18, 2012 at 1:29 am

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

  7. Patia on June 10, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    Can I just say, you guys rock!

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