I get orange or pink/orange mold on my plastic shower liner. This happens even though I wash the shower enclosure with a bleach solution and replace the liner regularly. Does this type of mold cause health problems? It there a better way to clean so it goes away>
Bullitt County Kentucky
That sort of pink/orange discoloration you are seeing is not mold. However, it occurs under the same conditions that mold favors, so they are often confused. It is most likely a common bacteria called Serratia marcescens. It is a common problem in bathrooms and other moist environments, where standing water is a common problem. The bacteria prefer standing water, and can use soap residue as a food source. The color is a pigment produced by the bacteria.
The bad news- you can't get rid of it completely, but you can take steps to prevent it from reoccurring. Conveniently, these same steps also control mold growth.
First, remove the bacteria. It sounds like you have already been doing this. I suggest a mixture of half water, half vinegar. Spray this on the affected area of the shower liner/shower, and let sit for 10 minutes, then scrub until clean and rinse, then let dry.
To help prevent the bacteria from returning, follow these steps:
1. Ventilate your bathroom. Run the bathroom fan during and after showers. You may need to run the fan up to 60 minutes until the moisture in the bathroom is gone.
2. Consider buying a shower squeegee, to squeegee the shower walls after taking a shower. The squeegee can also remove soap residue, a food source of the bacteria.
3. When you finish your shower, pull the shower curtain across, so that moisture isn't trapped in the folds of the liner.
Here is a short article about the bacteria from the Extension office at North Dakota State Unviersity if you want to learn a little more. A note- this article was written in 2010. The only change I would recommend is using the water-vinegar solution instead of bleach- the vinegar will still kill and remove the bacteria, and is safer to work with than bleach (some people report respiratory problems after using bleach cleaners)
I hope this helps!