Pink Mold: What It Is and How to Get Rid of It

Nylon-bristled scrub brush on pink gloves next to tiled wall with pink mold

The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 40 mins - 1 hr
  • Total Time: 50 mins - 1 hr, 15 mins

"Pink mold" is a common term for moldy-looking discoloration often seen spreading in the shower or bathtub, especially along grout. However, it's not really a type of mold. Pink shower mold is actually a bacteria called Serratia marcescens, which causes pink, light red, or light orange growth. This bacteria thrives in warm, moist environments and can appear fuzzy or slimy. Room temperature affects its color. It is usually transferred to surfaces through poor hygiene after handling body fluids. And it can negatively impact health when people come in contact with it.

Here's how to remove pink mold from your bathroom.

pink mold in a petri dish

Sinhyu / iStock/ Getty Images

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 1 Nylon-bristle scrub brush
  • 1 Spray bottle
  • 1 Small bowl
  • 1 Rubber gloves
  • 1 Protective eyewear
  • 1 Mask (preferably N-95)
  • 1 Washing machine
  • 1 Squeegee
  • 1 Towels

Materials

  • 1 Baking soda
  • 1 Dishwashing liquid or all-purpose cleaner
  • 1 Chlorine bleach
  • 1 Laundry detergent

Instructions

How to Remove Pink Mold

Materials and tools to remove pink mold

The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

  1. Mix a Cleaning Solution

    In a small bowl, mix 1/2 cup of baking soda with 1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid or an all-purpose cleaner. The paste will be runny. Depending on how much area you need to clean, you might need to make a double batch.

    Baking soda and dish soap containers next to bowl of mixed cleaning solution for pink mold

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

  2. Put on Protective Gear

    It is important to wear rubber gloves, protective eyewear, and a mask to protect yourself from exposure to the bacteria. If you have open sores, they should be covered as well.

    Pink gloves next to protective eyewear and white mask

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

  3. Remove the Shower Curtain and Liner

    Since the bacteria can grow on plastic and fabric surfaces, it is a good idea to clean the shower curtain and liner, even if you can't see any pink growth on the surfaces. Toss washable curtains and liners in the washing machine, and wash in warm to hot water with your regular laundry detergent.

    Fabric curtains can be dried following the care label instructions, but plastic liners should never be placed in an automatic dryer. Hang the liner from an outdoor clothesline or drying rack instead.

    Consider replacing plastic shower curtains and liners for bad pink mold problems.

    Shower curtain and liner placed in washing machine to prevent pink growth

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

  4. Scrub Away the Bacteria

    Dip a nylon-bristle scrub brush in the baking soda solution, and start scrubbing. Start at the highest point of the growth, and work your way down the surfaces. The baking soda provides a gentle abrasive to help loosen the bacteria from the surfaces.

    Nylon-bristled scrub brush dipped in baking soda solution and scrubbing pink mold with pink gloves

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

  5. Rinse the Area

    Rinse away the baking soda and bacteria with a hand-held shower spray or by dipping a towel in water to wipe down the walls and hard surfaces.

    White bathroom wall being rinsed with brass shower hose after scrubbing pink mold

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

  6. Prepare the Disinfectant Solution

    Since bacteria can be difficult to kill, the area will need to be treated with a disinfectant solution to be sure the bacteria is dead. In a spray bottle, mix a 50:50 solution of warm water and chlorine bleach.

    Spray bottle next to glass container with warm water and white bottle with chlorine bleach

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

  7. Disinfect the Infested Area, Wait, and Scrub Again

    Spray the freshly cleaned area liberally with the bleach and water solution. Allow the solution to work for 10 to 15 minutes. This length of exposure should kill any lingering bacteria and remove any stains that remain on the surfaces. Use a clean scrub brush to go over the surfaces one more time.

    Bleach and water solution sprayed on white bathroom wall next to nylon-bristled brush

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

  8. Rinse and Dry the Surfaces

    Rinse the surfaces well to remove the bleach solution. Dry with a squeegee or towels to remove moisture and prevent streaks.

    Squeegee removing bleach solution, extra moisture and preventing streaks

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

  9. Hang the Shower Curtain

    Hang the freshly washed and dried shower curtain and liner.

    Shower curtain being rehung on shower curtain holders

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

Tips to Prevent the Growth of Pink Mold

  • Encourage hand-washing, especially after using the bathroom, to prevent the transfer of Serratia marcescens bacteria to other surfaces.
  • Keep surfaces dry. Since Serratia marcescens needs moisture to thrive and spread, take the time to dry the shower walls after each use. A squeegee can do the job in just seconds, or you can use a towel.
  • Close and straighten shower curtains, so they will dry more quickly. Wash the curtains and liners at least monthly.
  • Clean away soap scum at least weekly. Soap scum contains body oil that serves as food for mold and bacterial growth.
  • Wipe away spills and drops of liquid soap, shampoo, and conditioner from the walls and floor of the shower or tub after each use.
  • Reduce the humidity level in your home by turning on exhaust fans, using dehumidifiers, and repairing leaky plumbing.
Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Serratia Marcescens- A Rare Opportunistic Nosocomial Pathogen and Measures to Limit its Spread in Hospitalized Patients. National Library of Medicine.