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How to Clean Pink Mold, According to Experts

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How to Clean Pink Mold, According to Experts

If you’ve noticed pink spots around your shower drain or faucet head or even a pink stain in your dishwasher, you likely have pink mold, a type of mold common to bathrooms and kitchens. Cleaning pink mold is easy, though, once you have the right tools on hand. Ahead, we spoke with cleaning experts to explain what pink mold is, how to clean it effectively, and how you can work to prevent it from occurring in the first place.

  • Alicia Sokolowski, president and co-CEO of AspenClean, a company that creates non-toxic, all-natural cleaning products
  • Mary Gagliardi, aka “Dr. Laundry,” Clorox‘s in-house scientist and cleaning expert

What Is Pink Mold?

Pink mold is a microbe often associated with the bacteria Serratia marcescens and will appear as a slimy, pink, or reddish-brown growth, according to Alicia Sokolowski, president and co-CEO of AspenClean. “Unlike common household molds, which are fungi, Serratia marcescens is a bacterium that thrives in damp environments and feeds on fatty substances like soap or shampoo residue,” says Sokolowski.

How to Clean Pink Mold Using DIY Cleaners

There are a few ways you can clean pink mold from your surfaces. If you prefer a natural, DIY solution, consider cleaning pink mold using household staples like white vinegar and baking soda. Below is Sokolowski’s method.

Materials Needed

  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Tea tree oil (optional)
  • Old toothbrush
  • Spray bottle
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Protective gloves
  • Face mask


  1. Don your protective gloves and face mask—this is to protect you from inhaling or touching mold spores.
  2. Mix equal parts vinegar and water in a reusable spray bottle. For more stubborn pink mold growth, consider using undiluted vinegar instead.
  3. Spray the affected area well and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Then, scrub the mold off using an old toothbrush.
  5. Rinse the area thoroughly and allow it to dry well.
  6. If you prefer, once dry, add a few drops of tea tree oil to inhibit any future mold growth.

“For extra stubborn areas, sprinkle baking soda on the affected area first, then spray with the vinegar solution, scrub with the old toothbrush, and rinse with water,” says Sokolowski.

How to Clean Pink Mold Using Conventional Cleaners

If you prefer using cleaning agents like bleach or mildew cleaner to tackle your pink mold, follow the below instructions according to Mary Gagliardi, Clorox’s in-house scientist and cleaning expert.

Materials Needed

  • Mold and mildew remover
  • Bleach
  • Bucket
  • Measuring cup
  • Sponge
  • Protective gloves
  • Face mask

Instructions for Using Mold and Mildew Remover

  1. Put your mask and gloves on to protect yourself while cleaning.
  2. Spray the mold and mildew cleaner directly onto pink mold growth.
  3. Let stand for 5 minutes on hard, non-porous surfaces like ceramic tile or porcelain. Let stand for 10 minutes on porous surfaces like grout.
  4. When the time is up, wipe the cleaner with a wet cloth or sponge.
  5. Rinse the area and allow it to air-dry completely.

Instructions for Using Bleach

  1. Put your mask and gloves on to protect yourself while you’re cleaning.
  2. Mix a solution of 1/3 cup of bleach to every 1 gallon of water in your bucket.
  3. Using your sponge, apply the solution to the pink mold growth.
  4. Let the solution sit for 10 minutes.
  5. Wipe the area and rinse, allowing it to air-dry.

The bleach formula can also be used for mold on semi-gloss painted hard, non-porous surfaces like ceilings, says Gagliardi. “Simply wipe with a sponge dampened with the bleach and water solution, then rinse after 10 minutes.”

Causes of Pink Mold

Pink mold (and other types of mold) can be caused by a few different factors, says Sokolowski. Here are some of the most common causes of pink mold in your home.

  • Moisture: Pink mold thrives in damp, humid spots.
  • Soap Residue: The bacteria that cause pink mold like to feed on the residues left behind by soap or shampoo.
  • Poor Ventilation: Spaces with poor ventilation are often more prone to mold growth occuring.

These conditions are often present in spaces like bathrooms, which is why you’ll commonly find pink mold growth there. “Microbes like damp environments, which makes bathrooms the perfect place for them to grow over time,” says Gagliardi. “They can also multiply quickly on surfaces following flooding or a water leak that isn’t cleaned right away and doesn’t dry quickly enough. In the bathroom, you can find fungi and bacteria growing on surfaces such as shower walls, vinyl shower curtains, grout, and caulk, and in hard-to-clean areas like corners and crevices.”

You’ll also find pink mold in kitchens, specifically around the dishwasher and sink and in basements as well. “Generally, areas prone to dampness or poor ventilation are most likely to attract pink mold,” Sokolowski says.

How to Prevent Pink Mold From Forming

There are a few ways you can stop pink mold from forming in the first place. First things first—keep your surfaces dry. “One of the most important things to do is to try to keep your surfaces dry,” Sokolowski says. “After each use, you can wipe down the shower walls, tiles, and other surfaces. It’s [also] essential to ensure proper ventilation in the area. Use exhaust fans or open windows to reduce the humidity.” Using a dehumidifier can also help.

Keeping up with your cleaning routine is also paramount for inhibiting mold growth. “Regular cleaning with sodium hypochlorite-based products helps keep mold from coming back,” says Gagliardi. Sokolowski also recommends regularly cleaning with white vinegar as a natural disinfectant if you prefer a DIY approach. “Make sure you also pay attention to regularly cleaning your kitchen and bathroom, using natural disinfectants like white vinegar,” she says. “Regular cleaning also prevents soap residue, the feeding ground for bacteria causing pink mold.”