It might not be quite as weird as a UFO sighting, but when pink stains keep mysteriously showing up on your kitchen and bathroom surfaces, it can make you wonder where on earth they came from! 

And here’s the thing. You could keep the cleanest of homes, diligently scrubbing, washing and polishing surfaces – and yet these pinky-coloured rings keep returning.  

Shouldn’t the fact that you have a water softener prevent these strange colourations from occurring?

Good question.

Well, firstly, if you are being pestered by the pink stuff, there is absolutely nothing wrong with your water softener. It is nothing to do with the water softener. It doesn’t in any way indicate that the softener is underperforming or failing to deliver the adequate level of soft water around your home. Neither is it any reflection on your cleaning regime or the frequency with which you wash, wipe and scour your sinks, shower units, baths and kitchen tops.

What is causing this strange colouration in my kitchen or bathroom?

How does one explain these unsightly coloured pigments? More importantly, how do you get rid of them? 

Let’s start with the least likely reason – excessively metallic water in your pipework. This is highly unlikely to be the culprit. If it was, then every home in the area would experience the same pink phenomenon. In which case, the local water board would be swiftly called into action, to rectify the issue with the mains supply, but this is not what is happening. 

It is far more likely to be down to something else. And that something is called Serratia Marcescens.

What is Serratia Marcescens?

It’s an extremely common, naturally occurring airborne bacteria that’s present in the soil and water. Thriving in moist conditions, once it reaches room temperature, it starts producing that pink/reddish staining. What encourages it to grow is when it comes into contact with materials containing phosphorous or fatty substances that are found in soaps, gels and shampoos – the very items we use in our baths, shower units and sinks. It can also grow from the residue of faeces in toilet bowls. Not nice! Wherever it appears, standing water and open air tend to be the best friends of serratia marcescens. So, if it is showing up in your home, this won’t be unusual. 

Please be advised, it doesn’t mean that there is something toxic in your water supply, or that you need to immediately change your water filters.

Is Serratia Marcescens harmful?

Generally, no. The majority of individuals will not suffer any effects from this bacteria should you be experiencing it in your property. In extreme cases, it has been linked to urinary tract infections and even pneumonia – but these are very rare occurrences.

It is advisable to keep its presence under control, however, so that it doesn’t keep building up on your surfaces. 

How to remove this pink residue 

Just about any kind of bathroom or kitchen cleaner should work. As mentioned earlier, though, serratia marcescens can keep returning. If it does, it might be worth using a solution of one part vinegar and one part water to clean it away. Spray it on the affected area and wipe it off with a soft-bristled brush. 

If you have the pink residue in the toilet bowl, leave the vinegar/water mixture in there for about 20 minutes before scrubbing it off with a toilet brush. Or simply zap the Serratia Marcescens with bleach. 

Above all, the key thing is to keep surfaces dry once they have been used or cleaned. Stopping water from pooling around sinks and shower trays is the best form of defence. That’s not necessarily practical for the loo bowl, of course. But, where you can, certainly keep soap scum and grime to a minimum. This should help you remove these pesky pink visitors once and for all.

For further insights, check out our Useful Info section on the website, which provides a comprehensive range of information about water softeners, drinking water systems and all things connected with soft water and the benefits it provides. 

As one of the leading suppliers of high-quality soft water products and drinking waters systems in the South-East, we operate extensively throughout West and East Sussex, Hampshire and Surrey. For all installation and service enquiries, call Scott Jenkins Water Softeners  01243 607494 or email: