Q: I’ve noticed some pinkish tinged mold growing in the shower. What is this stuff? Is it harmful? How can I get rid of it? 

A: That nasty substance is called Serratia marcescens, a microorganism commonly referred to as pink mold. Even though it’s been labeled a “mold,” this substance is actually a bacteria, not a fungus. These little guys thrive in warm, wet environments and feed off fatty substances (like soap residue for instance). All in all, your bathroom probably looks like a pretty good home to the bacteria, but you can stop them from moving in.

Pink mold can grow in the shower, tub, toilet and other places around the bathroom. It’s usually not as hazardous to your health as black mold and other fungi, but it can cause urinary tract infections, intestinal problems and in rare cases pneumonia. You’ll definitely want to rid your bathroom of the pink mold and take steps to keep it from coming back.

Pink mold can be eliminated using a number of products. Chlorine or bleach solutions are effective as well as hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and vinegar. Wash the area with your chosen solution and squeegee dry when finished. And don’t forget to protect yourself from contact with the bacteria and harsh chemicals by wearing gloves, goggles and a mask. Prevent pink mold from growing by removing soap residue and sanitizing your bathroom often. It’s helpful to wipe down wet surfaces after showering to prevent moisture from collecting. Showering with a fan on can help reduce stagnant water from building up in the bathroom as well. 

If you do have pink mold in your home, don’t feel alone. Many homeowners have waged war against these gross little organisms. The bathroom is unfortunately a natural breeding ground for bacteria, but we can make them feel unwelcome with a little bit of sterilizing and diligence. Get scrubbing!