How to get rid of pink mold — an expert guide to banishing bathroom bacteria

Four expert steps to stop pink mold in its tracks

Clean white bathroom with plant on window sill, a wide deep bath, and walk in shower with glass doors, silver fittings and white subway tiling on walls
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Knowing how to get rid of pink mold (spoiler, it's actually bacteria) is essential for anyone who likes their bathroom clean and fresh. 

Our experts will walk you through the simple steps to banish this pesky pink bathroom bacteria — and tell you exactly how to prevent it returning.

Before you get into the intricacies of how to clean a bathroom, dive in to our experts tips and reclaim your space from this pesky pink invader.

How to get rid of pink mold like a pro

When deep cleaning your small bathroom, knowing how to get rid of pink mold is key. From prep to prevention, and the bacteria-busting steps in between, our experts have you covered. 

Where our professional cleaners have suggested products, our expert shoppers have curated highly-rated products from trusted retailers to rid your space of pink mold.

Prices were correct at time of publishing.

What is pink mold?

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Despite its name, pink mold isn't a mold, but an opportunistic bacteria — Serratia marcescens. It thrives in damp environments and often appears as pinkish-orange spots on surfaces like shower walls, grout, and silicone seals. 

While it's not usually harmful to healthy individuals, it can trigger respiratory issues and should be removed promptly.

Will Cotter, of HappyCleans, says, "Serratia marcescens is a sneaky airborne bacterium that loves nothing better than to find a comfy spot, usually in the bathroom. Here, it gets exactly what it needs to stick around — calm water, some air, and a regular supply of soap and shampoo leftovers."

Though commonly referred to as "pink mold", Serratia marcescens can sometimes vary in colour.

Will says, "Don't be fooled by the name — this pink stuff might not always be pink. In most households, you'll find it as a slimy buildup, and its hue can range from pink to orange, or vibrant red, depending on factors including the room's temperature."

Whatever the exact shade, pink mold is treatable with simple homemade solutions, a little elbow grease, and these three expert steps.

Will Cotter, COO of HappyCleans, standing in sunshine in front of San Francisco Bridge.
Will Cotter

Will Cotter is Chief Operating Officer at the professional home cleaning service HappyCleans, providing one-off, regular, and deep-cleans across a growing list of territories including Oklahoma, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Louisville, Jacksonville, Columbus, Detroit, and Cleveland.

1. Get prepped

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Clear the area you'll be cleaning, and if any of your removable items have pink mold on as well, set them on a paper towel and clean them along with the affected area in step two.

Open windows or turn on ventilation fans for good airflow during the process. 

To get rid of the pink mold effectively, you'll need a few items to hand:

2. Initial Scrub

Though many skip straight to step three, which can prove very effective on its own, we advise starting with a blast of baking soda over the affected area.

Though there are many ways to use baking soda for an extra sparkle in your home, in this instance it plays a vital role in lifting the mold before you scrub away.

Hometalk DIY expert, Amy Poulton, says, "The Serratia marcescens biofilm can be difficult to remove, so it's a good idea to use a gentle abrasive, such as baking soda, as a first step. 

"Mix a quarter cup of cup baking soda with a tablespoon of liquid dish soap to create a paste with a runny consistency. Dip a soft-bristled brush into the mixture and apply to the pink mold, scrubbing it away. Start at the highest point and work your way down. Rinse or wipe the debris with a wet towel."

If you use them, learn how to clean microfiber cloths so they retain their absorbency.

Profile photo of Hometalk editor Amy Poulton
Amy Poulton

Amy Poulton is editor and home-improvement expert at Hometalk, the world’s largest home DIY community. It has 150,000 tutorial videos on everything from cleaning to decor provide inspiration, and shared expert guidance to more than 21 million members. 

3. Disinfect

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Once you've scrubbed away the pink mold, it's time to disinfect the area to kill any remaining bacteria and prevent regrowth.

Vanessa Bossart, founder of GreenTerra Cleaning, says, "When it comes to those inevitable encounters with pink mold, a mix of equal parts white vinegar and water is your perfect, eco-friendly weapon. Sprayed generously and left to sit before scrubbing, this method respects our environment while effectively blitzing bacteria."

Spray the affected areas generously and wait at least 15 minutes to kill the mold. Alternatively, you can use a commercial mold and mildew cleaner. 

There are many brilliant mold sprays out there, but our experts recommend the Method Eucalyptus Mint Bathroom Cleaner from Amazon, or the Clorox Clean-Up Cleaner & Bleach Spray from Target. Be sure to check and follow the manufacturer's instructions. 

Scrub your chosen solution away with a brush, then rinse the area thoroughly with clean water to remove any cleaning solution or residue. Finally, dry with a paper towel to ensure any remaining moisture is soaked up, and bin the rags.

Vanessa adds, "We've had fantastic results with these simple steps.”

Vanessa Bossart, founder of GreenTerra Cleaning, profile photo
Vanessa Bossart

Vanessa Bossart is founder of GreenTerra Cleaning, which has made more than 28,000 American homes sparkle and aims to redefine cleanliness as the cornerstone of healthy, sustainable living. With 18 years’ experience in the cleaning industry, Vanessa is passionate about promoting eco-friendly cleaning practices that improve the health of her clients and the planet.

4. Prevention

Gleaming tiled bathroom with blue toilet, white sink, and window

(Image credit: Martin Deja/Getty Images)

Once you're clear of pink mold, you'll want it to stay that way. These simple steps will prevent pink mold from returning.

Since pink mold thrives in damp environments, seal tiles with grout and use silicone sealant (we recommend waterproof Loctite clear silicone sealant from Amazon) to touch up any areas in need and prevent moisture from seeping in and providing a breeding ground for mold. 

You'll also want to keep surfaces dry as possible when not in use. Wipe them down after use and ensure good ventilation. Exhaust fans increase airflow in humid areas and dehumidifiers reduce moisture levels — but opening a window post-shower does the trick, too.

Lastly, and most importantly, incorporate regular cleaning into your routine to prevent mold buildup.

Karina Toner, of Spekless Cleaning, adds, "On top of ensuring proper ventilation, regularly clean and dry surfaces prone to mold growth, such as shower curtains, tiles, and grout lines, to eliminate moisture and organic matter.  

"Method Antibacterial Bathroom Cleaner (available from Amazon) is a highly effective product for preventing and removing pink mold. Its antibacterial properties help kill mold and mildew while leaving behind a refreshing spearmint scent. Plus, it's environmentally friendly and safe to use on various surfaces."

Profile photo of Karina Toner, operations manager at Spekless Cleaning
Karina Toner

Karina Toner is operations manager at Spekless Cleaning, which prides itself on exceptional cleaning, professionalism and client satisfaction. With over a decade of hands-on experience in the cleaning industry, Karina specializes in providing expert, tailored advice for clients on natural cleaning methods that prioritize both effectiveness and sustainability.

Armed with your new knowledge, our step-by-step instructions and prevention tips, you can bid farewell to pink mold and enjoy a cleaner, healthier bathroom. 

Next, tackle grimy fixtures by learning how to clean a faucet head, and stock up on the best cleaning supplies.

Andy van Terheyden
Freelance Writer

I'm a senior writer with an English degree and NCJ qualification, plus years of experience writing news, lifestyle and consumer articles for the national and international press. I'm also a copywriter, working on a breadth of consumer and corporate projects, and a private education consultant. I live in the quiet of the countryside and spend my weekends mooching around homeware shops, completing DIY tasks to breathe life into my small, newly-built home.