Seeing Pink in Your Sink
Ever noticed that pinkish hue that begins to appear after a few days around the shower, tub, or toilet bowl basin? That pink residue you see is caused by the bacterium Serratia marcesens. This is an extremely common organism found in soil, food, animals, air … almost anywhere! It thrives on moist surfaces and is commonly seen in showers, toilets, pet dishes, sinks, or any other damp surface. The bacteria need almost nothing to survive. They produce a characteristic pink pigment that is very visible to the human eye; however, some people report the color to be red or orange. The bacteria get to these surfaces via the air. What you see is especially common in dusty environments, where the bacteria can travel attached to dust particles.
These organisms cannot survive in chlorinated water. So, if your water is treated in some way that removes chlorine, you are more apt to see this phenomenon. Or, as is the case of a pet dish or a shower stall, the chlorine dissipates over time and the bacteria are able to colonize the surface. This species does not cause water-borne disease and until recently was thought to be completely harmless. Recent studies have shown, however, that it can cause bladder and wound infections and pneumonia in very few people.
Best bet: wipe these damp surfaces regularly with a bleach or anti-bacterial cleaner.
From time to time, your dishes may not come out of the dishwasher as clean as you like. They may have that annoying filmy look. What’s the problem? Two factors contribute: improper amounts of detergent, and insufficient water temperature. A good rule of thumb is to use one teaspoon of detergent for every grain of hardness in the water. For DMWW water, that means using seven teaspoons in the summer, eight in the winter. If the temperature setting on your water heater is too low, your dishes may not rinse well. Dishwashers work best with a water temperature of 140ºF. Also, let your kitchen sink run hot just before starting the dishwater cycle. If this still doesn’t help, try putting a ¼ cup of vinegar into the dishwasher just as the rinse cycle starts.
Is it Something in the Water?
Q: No matter how often I wash my towels or what detergent I use, they retain a musty odor. Is it something in the water? What can I do to get them fresh-smelling?
A: This is a very common observation that is almost never caused by the water. Ironically, all that washing could be part of the problem, especially if you’re using an excessive amount of detergent. If the detergent isn’t completely rinsed out of the towels, mold will grow on the residue, causing a musty odor. Cutting back on detergent might solve the problem, especially if during the rinse cycle you add a half-cup of white vinegar or baking soda to neutralize the odor. It’s more likely, however, that your washing machine itself is the culprit. Or rather, the smelly fungus that can grow inside the washer, especially on the rubber or plastic seals, gaskets and hoses.
Because towels are thicker and more absorbent than most items that go through the wash, they trap more fungus — and therefore the musty odor is more noticeable.
The easiest way to solve this problem is to do a “maintenance wash” with no clothes or detergent, using hot water. Using a small dose of bleach in your maintenance wash should help. Some people also find using a small amount of lemon juice or ammonia instead of bleach solves the problem. One maintenance wash per month is a good idea if this is a chronic problem.