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.
~Pretty in Pink
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.