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Red Mold in the Bathroom or Shower: What is it and How to Get Rid of It?

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  • Red is a loud color that demands your attention.

    So, when rust-colored patches start to take root on your bathroom walls or in your shower, it’s pretty hard to miss.

    Needless to say, what you’re seeing is probably red mold. And yes, those reddish patches look nasty. You have to get rid of that red stuff fast.

    But before you do that, it bears knowing what you’re dealing with.

    You have to ask the following questions:

    What is red mold?

    Why does it appear?

    How do you get rid of it?

    More importantly, how do you prevent it from cropping up again?

    We’ll answer all these questions as you continue to read this guide.

    On this page:

    What is Red Mold?

    Red mold
    Picture credit: moldremediationus

    The question “What is red mold?” isn’t an easy one to answer for two reasons: First, the majority of mold types turn red at some point. Second, red mold can’t be categorized under one mold species.

    Mold refers to fungi that thrives in wet, humid, and hot conditions. They can be black, orange, purple, green, or red. While mold can be a nuisance or, at times, dangerous, they play an important role in the ecosystem, specifically by breaking down dead plants to enrich the soil.

    black mold

    Since we’re on the subject of red mold, it’s important to note that some mold species are more likely to become red than others, especially Aspergillus, Fusarium, Neurospora, and Rhodotorula.

    The different types of mold that have red as their common shade can be distinguished according to observable characteristics, most notably their location. Aspergillus, for example, are typically found in bathrooms and showers whereas Neurospora usually grows on food. Fusarium, on the other hand, is typically found in soil and plants.

    Another tricky thing about identifying red mold is that, on the surface level, they look similar to red stain. But this part is easy. If you try to remove the “red stains” through scrubbing without much success, chances are you’re dealing with red mold.

    Also, it bears noting that “red mold” is often mistaken for pink mold. That’s not surprising since pink is a lighter shade of red. Pink mold, however, is made of a type of bacteria called Serratia marcescens, and is more commonly found in bathrooms.

    What Causes Red Mold?

    “What causes red mold” is a tricky question to answer. As previously discussed, many mold types can have a reddish color at some stage in their, well,  fungal lives. And you often need to verify distinguishing characteristics to identify the mold species, sometimes even requiring a lab test to get an accurate result.

    With that in mind, “what causes red mold?” is the wrong question to ask. That’s because every mold species thrive under more or less the same conditions, which include:

    • Accessibility to a food source (fabrics, wood, drywall, cotton)
    • Absence of light (mold can’t stand UV light)
    • Oxygen
    • Moisture
    • Warm temperatures
    • Time to grow (while the above conditions contribute to mold growth, it takes 24-48 hours for mold to begin to grow)

    In other words, you need to ask the question according to the context of where you found the red mold in the first place.

    For example, Fusarium is a species of fungus that, like every other mold species, thrives under wet conditions. They, however, are usually found in carpets, wallpapers, polyester polyurethane foam, mattresses, and other fabrics.

    Aspergillus fumigatus, another type of fungus that appears reddish in most cases, often takes root in decaying organic materials. It’s considered a thermotolerant fungus, meaning it thrives in hot environments. It is for this reason why Aspergillus is often found in HVAC systems and on the backside of refrigerators

    Neurospora, often called “red bread mold” in the vernacular (and inappropriately so), feed on organic matter. That’s why it’s hardly surprising that they’re often found on types of food that are rich in sugars, proteins, and starches.

    Is Red Mold Dangerous?

    Red mold itself is not toxic, at least for those who don’t have allergies or a compromised immune system. If you’re in perfectly good health, mild exposure to red mold shouldn’t pose any health risks.

    The following are the specific types of people who are in danger of acquiring health-related issues when exposed to red mold:

    • Babies and children
    • People with respiratory issues including asthma, allergy, bronchitis, pneumonia, etc.
    • People with disorders involving the immune system, including HIV/AIDS, Lupus, and cancer.
    • Older adults

    Exposure to red mold may cause you to show some of the following symptoms:

    Headaches

    • Coughing
    • Runny nose
    • Fatigue
    • Eye inflammation
    • Dizziness

    If you experience any of the symptoms above following possible mold exposure, check with your physician for immediate treatment.

    How to Get Rid of Red Mold in the Bathroom or Shower

    As established, red mold isn’t only unsightly, it also poses health risks to those who are unlucky enough to be exposed to it. In other words, you need to get rid of red mold and you need to do it fast.

    Since red mold is typically seen in the bathroom or shower, here are methods and procedures that can help remove them.

    Take safety precautions

    Getting rid of red mold, or any type of mold for that matter, puts you at risk for exposure to its spores, not to mention harsh chemicals from corrosive cleaning solutions.

    So make sure that you take safety precautions before proceeding You can start by suiting up with a protective gear to ensure that your eyes, nose, and mouth are protected from spores or harsh chemicals.

    A standard protective gear consists of the following:

    • Goggles
    • Gloves
    • Dust mask or respirator

    Make sure that the room you’re working in is properly ventilated. Remember, lack of oxygen, coupled with mild exposure to harsh chemicals, can lead to dizziness or even unconsciousness. Don’t forget to open the windows or turn on the room’s exhaust fans before starting. If you suddenly feel dizzy or feel like you’re about to faint, leave the room immediately and seek help.

    Use a Bleach Solution

    clorox bleach

    Bleach has been proven effective in getting rid of mold, mostly on account of its active ingredient, sodium hypochlorite.  Bear in mind, however, that bleach doesn’t completely eliminate mold. It’s akin to cutting off a plant’s leaves but leaving the roots intact. But if you want a quick, albeit temporary, solution, using a bleach solution gets the job done.

    That said, it bears noting that bleach is a corrosive agent, meaning that it’s potentially harmful to your skin and lungs. Make sure to wear protective gear (as already discussed) to ensure that the bleach solution won’t cause you any harm.

    The steps for getting rid of red mold using a bleach solution are as follows:

    1. Mix a solution of one part bleach with three parts water in a small bowl.
    2. Grab a sponge or a clean rag, dip some part of it into the bowl, and gently rub at the affected areas.
    3. Let the solution sit there for an hour.
    4. Grab a soft-bristled brush and dip the bristles in the bleach solution. Scrub the mold with the brush.
    5. For moldy areas that are hard to reach, use a toothbrush or a cotton swab. If both methods don’t work, you can create a more potent bleach solution (e.g. one part bleach and one part water).
    6. Rinse the affected area with water.

    Alternative and Safer Methods to Kill Red Mold

    • Use a commercial product. Most mold-cleaning solutions come in a spray bottle. Make sure to read the instructions carefully and follow them to the letter.
    • Use white vinegar. Pour some white vinegar in a small bowl, dip a clean rag or sponge in it, and then spread it liberally over the moldy areas. As with the bleach solution, let it sit there for an hour before scrubbing the area with a soft-bristled brush (or toothbrush). Once you’re done, rinse it off with water.

    How to Remove Red Mold from a Shower Curtain

    Red mold doesn’t only appear on your bathroom’s hard surfaces, it may also appear on your shower curtain. Shower curtains, after all, regularly come in contact not just with water but also with soap suds and shampoo residue, which serve as a food source for mold. It is for this reason why mold can appear on shower curtains overnight especially under the right conditions.

    Obviously, removing mold from a shower curtain requires a different approach from the one typically used on your bathroom’s hard surfaces.

    You can remove mold from shower curtains in three ways. Let’s go over them one by one.

    Use Oxygen Bleach

    Here’s how to get rid of red mold from your shower curtain using oxygen bleach.

    1. Remove the shower curtain from its hooks, take it outside and lay it on a large table (or on the ground) with the mold-side up.
    2. Pour two quarts of water in the bathtub and then add 4 tablespoons of non-chlorine bleach on it.
    3. Put the shower curtain (including the curtain rings if they’re molded as well) in the tub and let it soak for an hour.
    4. Remove the shower curtain from the bathtub. Fold the curtain and then gently squeeze out the bleach water.
    5. Put the shower curtain in the tub again and rinse with fresh, warm water.
    6. Remove the curtain and press the water out.
    7. Hang the shower curtain outside to dry.

    Use Hydrogen Peroxide and Borax

    1. Remove the curtain from its hooks and then fold it inward.
    2. Take it outside and lay it flat on a picnic table (or on the ground) with the moldy side up.
    3. Mix 2 parts hydrogen peroxide with 1 part water in a spray bottle. Mix well.
    4. Spray away at the shower curtain’s affected areas.
    5. Allow the curtain to soak for 30 minutes.
    6. Grab a soft-bristled brush and scrub away at the mold. Do it gently to prevent the shower curtain from getting damaged.
    7. Rinse the curtain with warm water.
    8. If there’s remaining mold, mix one cup of borax with one cup of water until the solution turns to paste.
    9. Apply the resulting paste to the mold and rub gently with the soft-bristled brush.
    10. Rinse again with warm water.

    Baking Soda and Vinegar

    1. Remove the shower curtain and the rings from the shower bar and fold the fabric inward.
    2. Put the curtain in a washing machine. Add two towels in there to serve as a cushion that will prevent the curtain from crinkling.
    3. Set the washing machine dial to “gentle” and set the temperature to “warm.”
    4. Pour ½ cup of liquid detergent or dishwasher liquid in the dispenser and ½ cup of baking soda into the wash (baking soda not only removes bacteria, but it also inhibits its growth).
    5. Turn on the washing machine.
    6. Pour ½ cup of plain white vinegar into the tub during the first rinse cycle.
    7. Retrieve the shower curtain and shake it out. Check for any signs of remaining mold.
    8. Mix baking soda with water and rub at the remaining mold.
    9. Hang the shower curtain in the shower outside in the sun to dry.

    How to Prevent Red Mold

    As you may have already noticed, removing red mold from your bathrooms and showers does take some work. It’s not fun, and you’d want to avoid doing it over and over again.

    Considering the fact that mold thrive in moist and humid environments, it seems like mold growth is something you just have to live with.

    But there’s a final solution: You can prevent red mold from appearing in your bathroom in the first place

    In the final analysis, mold prevention boils down to one thing: moisture control.

    Obviously, there will always be moisture in the bathroom or shower. The trick is to get rid of it before it becomes a problem.

    And with that, here are specific tips to prevent red mold from growing in your bathroom.

    Identify problem areas in your bathroom and address them.

    The most pressing challenge with bathroom mold is that it can take root almost anywhere. Make sure to examine the following areas for issues that increase the likelihood of mold growth:

    • Bathroom windows
    • Ceiling
    • Walls
    • Towels and bathroom mats
    • Shower curtains and rugs
    • Grout, caulk, tub, and tiles
    • Sink
    • Toilet

    Do an audit of each area mentioned above. Does the bathroom ceiling have any leaks? Do you always see condensation on the bathroom windows? Are your tiles cracked? Are your pipes leaking?

    Depending on the problem area, you can take specific steps to prevent moisture from settling in one area or building up.

    Get rid of moisture in the bathroom

    To prevent mold from growing in the bathroom, you can always take a proactive approach. In other words, you can get rid of moisture in a direct manner. Here are the steps that can help you do that.

    Remove excess water using bathroom implements

    Having a shower squeegee lying inside the bathroom allows you to wipe down bathroom surfaces, such as the walls, tile, and glass after each shower session. Aside from getting rid of moisture, it also removes soap and shampoo residue and other organic substances that may serve as a food source for mold.

    Also, moisture has a knack for getting into the tile grout or corners, making them a potential breeding ground for red mold. Make sure to clean your tub, sink, toilet, and shower at least once a week to prevent water from building up.

    Keep your bathroom well-ventilated

    Keeping a bathroom well-ventilated is one surefire way to prevent moisture from building up, thus creating conditions that won’t provide red mold a good reason to stick around.

    There are myriad ways to ensure that constant airflow inside your bathroom remains constant.

    • Open the windows every time you take a shower. When we shower, moisture gets released into the air as water vapor. All that damp air can settle on the bathroom walls, mirrors, the bathtub, curtains, and windows. That’s condensation for you. And if you don’t do anything about it, all that dampness will cause mold to grow.

    Here’s an idea: Open the windows while taking a shower. Do this and you’re providing all the damp air with an escape hatch, reducing the condensation in the bathroom. This leads to reduced moisture, making your bathroom and shower less appealing to mold spores.

    • Use a dehumidifier. Opening the windows would not be enough if you live in a humid   climate. In this case, a dehumidifier should come in handy. By extracting moisture from the air,  a dehumidifier reduces and controls the level of humidity in the bathroom, thus preventing the growth of mold.
    • Install a bath fan. A bathroom fan is an effective way to keep your bathroom well-ventilated, which in turn keeps red mold at bay

    Turn the bath fan on during a bath or shower and keep it on for up to 30 minutes once you’re done. Installing bathroom fans with a humidity sensor or a timer switch should  make this step automatic

    Also, make sure that the CFM (cubic-feet-per-minute) volume of your fan is sufficient enough to keep the bathroom well-ventilated on account of its size. If the fan is too small for your bathroom, replace it with a bigger model or one with a higher CFM volume.

    • Seal the grout in a shower. Shower grout is made of cement, sand, and water, making it attractive to mold spores. Leave it unsealed and mold growth is likely to follow. The mold becomes even more difficult to deal with if it penetrates the grout cracks.

    Sealing the grout lines at least annually with a standard grout sealer should keep the surface dry, thus keeping mold and mildew at bay.

    • Unclog bathroom drains. Drains that don’t drain water properly can lead to excess moisture, and subsequently, mold growth. Unclogging bathroom drains at the earliest sign of drainage problems prevents water from pooling in the bathroom, thus keeping it mold-free.
    • Clean your bathroom mats and towels on a regular basis. The absorbent properties of towels and bathroom mats make them very attractive to mold. To top it off, these bathroom fixtures often have excess water without you noticing it. This allows mold to build over time, and before you know it, your mats and towels are infested with it.
    • Equip your bathroom with mold-resistant products. If you have the budget for it, buying mold-resistant bathroom products should persuade mold-causing fungi to give your bathroom a wide berth. There’s a wide range of bathroom products that have mold-resistant properties out there, including shower curtains, carpets, rugs, tiles, bathroom/shower walls, etc.

    Getting Quotes from Pros

    Has your red mold problem come to a point where going DIY just won’t cut it anymore? Then it’s high time that you hire a professional mold removal contractor.

    But therein lies another challenge: finding a mold removal contractor who knows what they are doing and who will charge you a reasonable fee.

    To be on the safe side, we recommend that you acquire at least 4 quotes from different contractors. For starters, having many options to choose from puts you in a better position to find a contractor you can trust with your money.

    Finding good contractors can be time-consuming, not to mention costly (most contractors charge for quotes). But still, that’s time and money well spent. After all, finding a contractor who understands your needs and knows how to address them will save you more time and money in the end.

    But if you feel that you’re too pressed for time and money to consider the above suggestion, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered.

    Thanks to our database comprising the most competitive contractors in the US., you can get quotes from competing contractors absolutely free of charge.

    And it’s easy. Just fill out the form you see on this page and we’ll send you a list of FREE quotes from the best contractors within or near your area.

    Also, no commitment required. If you feel that none of the contractors we send you don’t meet your expectations, you’re well within your right to not hire anyone.

    Either way, filling out the form allows you to take that FIRST important step to finally getting rid of red mold in your bathroom!

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