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Why Are There Spots in Your Shower?

Answering Some of Life’s Mysteries

There you are, letting the hot droplets pour down onto your face as you relax in a steamy shower. You grab a fresh cloth, lather it with soap, and suddenly notice colorful spots next to the soap. Those spots weren’t there before.

Yuck. You leave the bathroom feeling no cleaner than when you went to shower, wondering whether that’s some sort of fungus making a home in your bathroom.

Let’s go through some of the common reasons there are spots in your shower, and if they’re a concern to your health or just a pesky nuisance. We cover what the different types of spots are, how they might impact you, and what you can do to remedy the situation.

Black Dots

What they are:

You may find these dots scattered on your shower tile or the ceiling. More often than not, black dots are a form of mold that should be taken seriously because:

  • Mold causes structural damage to your home, and
  • It creates health hazards that can become severe, especially in those with respiratory problems.

We always recommend having a plumber inspect areas for potentially hazardous mold growth because it takes professional-grade equipment combined with expert training to fully ensure your problem is gone and your air quality is healthy. But there are steps you can take at home to prevent issues from occurring, or to help minimize the severity of the situation before an expert arrives.

What you can do:

  1. You can conduct a basic test to determine if it’s a concern by adding a couple of drops of bleach to the spots – if they turn lighter in color, it’s mold, and you should take action.
  2. Call for professional assistance; it’s very difficult if not impossible to eliminate mold without the quality equipment and products that experts use. Plus, you don’t want to risk accidentally spreading the mold as you try wiping it away.

Orange Stains

What they are:

Orange-colored deposits in your shower typically indicate higher levels of iron in your water which combine with soap scum to form that unappealing color.

What you can do:

  1. Test your water to determine whether it’s iron or another issue creating orange stains.
  2. Bring a lemon to the orange fight: Combine fresh lemon juice with warm water and spray onto the area, allowing it to soak for 10 minutes before scrubbing, rinsing, and repeating as needed.
  3. Wipe your shower down after using it and upgrade to a water filtration system that captures iron to help prevent the stains from coming back.

Pink Spots

What they are:

A section of your shower with pinkish splotches is generally an indicator of an airborne bacteria called Serratia Marcescens. This residue forms naturally in both animals and food, but it also thrives in environments with dust particles and moisture.

Serratia Marcescens is a bacterium you should quickly remove, as it can cause health problems such as:

  • Pneumonia
  • Urinary Tract Infections
  • Meningitis
  • Eye Infections
  • Wound Infections

Sometimes, this bacterium (also known as pink mold, even though it’s not a mold) is confused with the orange/pink hue that high iron levels can produce. Call for a second opinion to be safe!

What you can do:

  1. Combine two tablespoons of liquid detergent (ammonia-free) with one cup of chlorine bleach and use a scrubber to clean the surface before rinsing with clean water.
  2. Keep your bathroom fan on for at least 15 minutes after a shower or bath to allow for proper ventilation.
  3. Use a daily shower spray cleaner to help prevent new growth.

White or Translucent Residue Spots

What they are:

A common occurrence for properties in urban areas, these white stains are due to hard water leaving calcium and magnesium deposits in your shower. Tennessee water overall is considered soft to moderately hard, and Memphis water is categorized as soft though this can vary between homes.

What you can do:

  1. There are shower head filters that soften the water.
  2. You can add bath salts or baking soda into your bath (but then you’re not technically showering, you’re bathing).
  3. If you’re experiencing hard water spots in more areas than your shower (i.e., dishes or clothing), consider installing a whole-home water softener.

Blue or Green Stains

What they are:

If you find blue or green colors around the shower drain, it’s a sign of mildly acidic water. The water is corroding your pipes and/or plumbing fixtures, causing the stains.

What you can do:

  1. Use an acidic cleaner – one example is to mix vinegar and baking soda until they form a paste that you can apply to the stains. Let the paste sit for several minutes before wiping clean.
  2. Have professionals test your water to determine the source of your corrosive water.

Brown or Black Stains

What they are:

Rather than the small black dots that we mentioned earlier, if you notice large stains ruining the appearance of your shower or tub, your water likely has too much manganese. This happens mostly in homes with well water, although it can also occur with city water.

What you can do:

  1. There are two DIY combinations you can try when scrubbing away these stains: A mixture of baking soda and white vinegar, or a mixture of hydrogen peroxide with cream of tartar.
  2. Like some of the other stains homeowners battle, a water filtration system helps to remove the excess manganese.

Reach out to Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Memphis with any questions or concerns you have – we’re happy to help identify shower spots and keep your home safe.