When it comes to bathrooms and their toilets, issues with red rings around the bowls can often cause concern. Fortunately, they're not a big issue destined to cost serious money in plumbing bills to fix. They're usually the result of the bacterial organism Serratia marcescens. This bacteria is generally harmless except in certain medical issues related to wounds and pneumonia. Regular cleaning using a chlorine bleach solution effectively controls it.
Serratia marcescens bacteria is common in many environments. That includes bathrooms, where moisture and dampness are nearly always prevalent. It also doesn't require oxygen to live and is red or pinkish in color. Besides toilet bowls, it can often be seen in shower corners and on tile grout. Also, it's rod-shaped and is actually large, as bacteria go. It can be a cause of infection in hospital patients, especially those with wounds or pneumonia.
Toilet bowls, by their nature, provide a welcoming environment for Serratia marcescens bacteria. That's because it's a common bacteria found in human fecal material, and it also thrives in moisture. Put the two together, and it's likely that a red toilet bowl ring will develop. And that's especially true in cases where bowls aren't cleaned on at least a periodic basis. They're also not killed off by anything less than chlorine-containing solutions.
Serratia marcescens bacteria do well anywhere phosphorus-containing materials or materials high in fatty substances are present. Controlling the bacteria means first depriving it of any growth medium it can utilize to reproduce. That means cleaning up soap and shampoo residues. It also means cleaning toilet bowls with a chlorine-based cleaner. Using chlorine solutions also works extremely well in killing the bacteria off, though you'll probably never completely eliminate it. Unfortunately, once it establishes itself, it's more about control measures.
If you see a red or pinkish ring developing in your toilet bowl, it's time to use chlorine bleach in a spray solution. Thoroughly clean the bowl and then spray it with chlorine bleach. Let it sit in the bowl for about 15 to 20 minutes. You should also put about a 1/4 cup in your toilet's tank at the same time. After time's up, flush the toilet a few times.
Bleach is corrosive to rubber and other materials, and you should only use it in toilets sparingly. After you've killed off the bacteria, it's simple to keep the problem in check by cleaning your toilet regularly. Just use any commercially available toilet bowl cleaner. Toilet bowl cakes are useful as well. Never use chlorine bleach if you have a septic tank, however. You can kill off the tank's helpful bacteria by continually exposing it to chlorine.
- Photo Credit Yong Hian Lim/iStock/Getty Images
Why Are There Red Stains in the Toilet Bowl?
If you notice red stains in the toilet, they are likely caused by iron in the water. Although the stains are not...
How to Clean Toilet Rings
Are you plagued with unsightly toilet bowl rings in your toilet bowl? Removing toilet bowl rings from the water level in your...
How to Get Rid of a Ring Around the Toilet
A ring around the toilet can give the entire bathroom an unclean feeling. These rings are usually the result of hard water,...
How to Safely Clean Serratia Mold
Pink mold is a type of mold commonly found growing around bathroom fixtures and fittings, in the sink and around the water...
Why Is the Water Turning My Bathroom Sink & Faucets Green?
No one wants to find crusty green deposits, murky green water or staining, or velvety, splotchy-looking green mold on bathroom fixtures. These...
How Often Do You Change a Toilet Wax Ring?
The wax ring underneath a toilet provides a lasting seal between the bowl and the flange. There are times when you need...
What Causes Toilet Bowl Rings?
Toilet bowl rings are unsightly and, if left unattended, may develop into health hazards for humans or pets. While some of the...
What Causes Red Well Water?
Turning on your sink, shower or bathtub water faucet to find a light to deep red color can be unappealing and frightening....
What Are the Treatments for Serratia Bacteria?
Serratia marcescens is a common bacterium that can cause a number of serious opportunistic infections in hospital patients. Patients fitted with catheters...
How to Clean a Toilet Bowl Ring
Clean a bathroom toilet bowl ring by first flushing to get water all around, putting powder cleanser in the bowl and using...