Customers have asked us why there is a pink ring in their toilet bowl and what can they do to get rid of it. Often they are concerned that something must be in the water. However, the pink ring that develops at the water line in the toilet, around drains, in the tub/shower area, and in bathroom drinking cups is actually caused by an airborne bacteria known as Serratia Marcescens. The airborne bacteria thrives in moist environments, which is why it is commonly found in some bathrooms.
Serratia Marcescens cannot survive in chlorinated tap water, but when water sits for a period of time, the chlorine is dissipated into the atmosphere. There are several things you can do to prevent the pink stains from developing. Drying wet surfaces after use will prevent the bacteria from growing. For toilet bowls, you can add a little bleach to the water in the bowl. We do not recommend bleach tablets in the tank because they tend to speed up the deterioration of most flappers.
To remove the slimy pink stain, you can use regular household bleach and a soft bristle cleaning brush to gently scrub the affected area. An old toothbrush or nail brush works great. For more stubborn stains, you can use plumber’s grit cloth and lightly rub the stain. Rubbing too aggressively with grit cloth will scratch the porcelain surface, so please exercise caution. To remove the stain from shower curtains and liners, wash them in hot water with a little bleach. For patterned shower curtains, use a color-safe bleach.