Pink mold is an airborne bacteria (Serratia marcescens) instead of a fungus like other types of mold. It thrives in the damp areas of your home, like around the bathroom, kitchen, and basement. Pink mold in showers will grow on the walls, curtains, toilet bowl, and unattended damp areas in general. Read on to learn its causes and health risks, how to get rid of it, and how to prevent it.
What Causes Pink Mold?
Pink mold results from multiple factors, often related to a lack of ongoing care after repeated bathroom use, including:
- Excess Humidity and Moisture: Dampness is the essential element that fuels pink mold’s growth and expansion. Serratia marcescens thrives in damp conditions, making unattended showers and bathrooms generally an ideal home.
- Poor Ventilation: Properly ventilated bathrooms accumulate less moisture because the air movement helps dry it up. On the other hand, bathrooms that don’t contain windows and always have their doors closed are more humid, leading to pink mold growth in the shower.
- Organic Material Accumulation: Soap scum, hairs, and bodily oil can easily accumulate in your shower if you don’t clean it often. Serratia marcescens feeds off organic material like this. Combined with high humidity, it can create the perfect storm for a pink mold infestation.
What Does Pink Mold Look Like?
Pink mold generally looks like a red or orange-reddish stain on your shower, bathtub, toilet, sink, or the grout between the tiles. If it grows excessively, it’ll eventually look like a slimy pink substance.
Pink Mold vs. Black Mold
While they both thrive in damp, poorly ventilated areas, pink and black mold differ in various aspects, primarily:
- Species: Pink mold is a bacteria, Serratia marcescens. Black mold is a fungus, generally of the Stachybotrys chartarum species.
- Color: As you can imagine, black mold looks like a black stain, while pink mold looks pink or reddish-orange.
- Toxicity: Black mold can cause respiratory issues, skin or eye irritations, and other medical conditions. Pink mold is less risky but can still irritate, especially in people with asthma and other respiratory issues.
Signs of Pink Mold Infestation
There are various signs your shower is infested with pink mold, such as:
- Pink or reddish-orange stains around humid surfaces, such as shower tiles, grout lines, and curtains.
- It’s a pink, slimy film (in more advanced cases).
- A musty odor coming from your shower.
- Organic matter buildup can provide a food source for pink mold.
- Discoloration of the affected surfaces.
- A flare-up of respiratory issues around the shower.
Health Risks Associated with Pink Mold
Pink mold isn’t as alarming as black mold. However, it may affect people with weak immune systems or respiratory illnesses. Exposure to pink mold may cause allergic reactions such as a runny nose, dry skin, and eye irritation. It can also worsen asthma.
More rarely, it may cause open wound infections if it touches broken skin. It may also attach itself to contact lenses and cause eye infections.
How to Get Rid of Pink Mold
While pink mold isn’t as hazardous as black mold and is usually a simple cleaning hassle, you should prioritize removing it from your shower.
DIY Pink Mold Removal with Vinegar
Household distilled or white vinegar contains acetic acid. It is an effective and eco-friendly alternative to rid your home of pink mold. Follow these steps to remove the pink mold using vinegar:
- Put on rubber gloves, a face mask, and protective glasses.
- Prepare a 50/50 mix of water and vinegar. That is, pour an equal amount of each in a spray bottle.
- Generously spray the mix in affected areas and let it sit for 15 minutes.
- Scrub away the mold with a soft-bristled brush.
- Rinse with warm water.
- Repeat the process if there’s some pink mold left.
- Dry the area with a towel or a microfiber cloth.
Other Cleaning Agents for Pink Mold
Bleach is an efficient tool for cleaning the pink mold. When mixed with water, you have a solution that can quickly kill pink mold bacteria and remove stains. Follow these steps:
- Create a one-part bleach and ten-part water solution. That’s around 1.5 cups of bleach in one gallon of water.
- Use a sponge or pour the solution into a spray bottle and apply it on the affected surface. Let it sit for one hour.
- Use a scrubbing brush to remove the mold.
- Rinse the surface and dry it with a towel or a microfiber cloth.
If pink mold is growing in your toilet, apply a cup of bleach to the cistern tank and the toilet bowl itself and leave for 30 minutes, then use a brush to scrub any traces of pink mold away. Flush the toilet multiple times to ensure the mold is eliminated.
Other cleaning agents for pink mold include:
- Hydrogen peroxide (3% solution)
- Tea tree oil
- Commercial mold removers
Safety Measures While Removing Pink Mold
Wear protective gear such as rubber gloves, a face mask, and eye protection before attempting to remove pink mold. Bacteria exposure may cause allergy symptoms like eye irritation, dry skin, and a runny nose.
How to Prevent Pink Mold (Overall)
If you want to prevent more pink mold once you’ve scrubbed it away, do this:
- Remove any soap scum residue regularly.
- Consider a monthly scrub with a vinegar mix.
- Improve ventilation and dry your bathroom frequently to prevent a repeat infestation.
How to Prevent Pink Mold on Shower Curtains
Shower curtains can quickly accumulate water and soap, creating the perfect habitat for pink mold to grow and expand.
For fabric curtains
Use a hard-bristled brush to remove as much mold as possible for a fabric curtain. Do this in the open air to prevent mold spores from traveling inside your home.
Later, apply a stain remover, allow the solution to settle, and place the curtain in the washing machine. Hang the curtains to dry.
For plastic curtains
If you plan to do it manually, use liquid dish soap and baking soda to scrub using an abrasive dish sponge. Rinse with water.
If you prefer using a washing machine, place a clean rag or bath towel in the drum with the curtain to assist with scrubbing and balancing the load.
Replace your old curtains with a mold-resistant alternative, which will spare you from cleaning again.
How to Prevent Pink Mold in Bathtubs
To clean a bathtub, do the same as you would for a shower, use a vinegar mix to scrub away existing pink mold, regularly clean soap scum, and ventilate the bathroom often.
When to Call Experts
You can easily manage most infestations using cleaning products or eco-friendly alternatives like vinegar. However, if you’re experiencing allergies, have medical conditions that worsen on exposure to pink mold, the mold has turned black, or the bacterial growth is larger than 5 square feet, do not hesitate to hire pest control services.