Its name is S. marcencens and it is ruining your clean reputation. A bacteria that produces a pinkish or reddish color, S. marcencens forms a strong and vibrant community through the creation of a biofilm. Biofilms are found everywhere in nature—even in your mouth (think fuzzy teeth). While there are many helpful biofilms, when it comes to this pink grime in your bathroom, it’s best to get rid of it once and for all.
Here’s why. When left untreated, S. marcencens can permanently stain and destroy the surfaces on which it lives. Remediation is expensive, and sometimes impossible. Once it is allowed to flourish, it can spread easily, increasing the chance it can make you sick, particularly if it gets into an open wound or if it finds its way into the respiratory or urinary tracts of the immunocompromised.
So, how do you get rid of it?
- Regular (read: weekly) cleaning.
- Remove soap scum and grimy dirt with a designated shower/bathroom cleaner. Scrub the surface to breakdown the biofilm and reveal the clean surface.
- Once you’ve broken down the biofilm, coat the surface with a disinfectant to kill any remaining bacteria. Allow to sit for a few moments (or follow the label directions).
- Rinse again.
- For toilet bowls: Clean your toilet with your favorite toilet cleaner, brushing the interior of the bowl to breakup the biofilm. Follow the cleaning with an antimicrobial cleaner, using its directions as a guide. After you’ve completed the cleaning and disinfecting, pour ¼ cup of household bleach into the toilet tank. Set a timer for 20 minutes, and let the bleach do its magic for exactly that long (any longer can damage non-porcelain toilet parts). Once the time is up, flush several times to dilute the bleach.
The trick is to use consistency and strong elbow grease (but avoid abrasive cleaners and sponges, which may do more harm than good as they can create additional nooks and crannies for bacteria to thrive within). For tough corners and grout, steam vapor can make quick work of cleaning and disinfecting.
To prevent or slow down the recurrence of pink biofilm, wipe down showers after each use with a squeegee or towel, and make sure to use the bathroom exhaust fan for 20 minutes after each bath or shower. The goal is to make the surfaces inhospitable, so that this unwelcome guest won’t be encouraged to stay.