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Causes and Solutions for Orange Stains in Your Bathtub or Shower

Published on Tuesday June 29, 2021
Orange stains in bathtub

Orange stains in a bathtub are never a welcoming sight. Finding them can cause disgust and headaches, but then the questions start: What causes orange stains in bathtubs in the first place, and how can you get those orange stains cleaned?

If you’re wondering how to clean orange stains in bathtubs in order to get your tubs looking fresh and clean, you’ve come to the right place. We’re here to explain the causes of orange stains in bathtubs and how to get rid of them.

What Causes Orange Stains in a Bathtub or Shower? 

Generally, orange stains in a bathtub are caused by one of three things: iron and magnesium build-up, pink mold, or other bacteria.

Iron and Magnesium in Water

If your home’s water supply contains high levels of iron or magnesium, you can end up with orange water stains in a bathtub. The iron and magnesium combine with soap scum left in the tub from showering. Together they form a kind of rusty-orange deposit on your tubs and plumbing fixtures, especially as the iron in the water is exposed to air and oxidizes.

Pink Mold – Serratia Marcescens

Technically speaking, pink mold (or serratia marcescens) isn’t actually a mold. Rather, it’s a unique species of rod-shaped bacteria belonging to the Yersiniaceae family. Pink mold is a waterborne or airborne bacteria that naturally exists in some water, and it can build up on your bathtub and shower walls over time. 

Despite its name, it isn’t actually pink either. It’s a reddish-orange. Serratia marcescens is associated with various health problems, including urinary infections, respiratory infections, wound infections, eye infections, meningitis, and more.

Bacteria from Moist Areas

If the orange stains in your bathtub aren’t caused by extra iron minerals in your water or serratia marcescens, then it’s possible you have some other bacteria growing in your tub. Bathrooms (and bathtubs in particular) tend to be very moist areas. 

This moisture allows for a lot of various bacteria and even mold growth if you’re not careful and don’t clean your tub regularly.

How to Clean Orange Stains in a Bathtub or Shower

Cleaning stains in bathtub

While finding orange water stains in a bathtub is unappealing, you don’t have to replace the entire tub to get rid of the stains (though it would certainly work). There are many DIY cleaning solutions that are effective against orange water stains and safe cleaning products you can purchase. Help your bathtub last longer by keeping it clean and maintained.

When you’re figuring out how to clean orange stains in a bathtub, always exercise caution when using any chemical cleaners and be sure they’re safe to drain down into your plumbing.

Lemon Juice and Water

An easy, safe DIY cleaner and bleach alternative for your bathtub is to mix lemon juice with some warm water. Squeeze fresh lemons into a spray bottle then spray all the orange stains in your bathtub, being sure to fully coat the area. 

Allow the solution to sit for 10 minutes before scrubbing and rinsing. Repeat as necessary.

Baking Soda and White Vinegar

While you likely learned in science class that baking soda and vinegar don’t mix, they actually form a great relationship if you’re trying to make a DIY, natural cleaner for your home. 

You can start by creating a solution that’s two parts white vinegar and one part water into a spray bottle, then spraying all the orange stains. 

Allow that to sit for 15 to 20 minutes. For any area that’s a tougher stain, sprinkle some baking soda on the area or create a baking soda paste with the vinegar and allow it to sit on the stain for an hour before scrubbing and rinsing. Repeat as necessary.

Bleach for Pink Mold

If you have pink mold or another type of bacteria in your shower, you may need something stronger than vinegar or lemon juice to get the stains out and to help them stay out. 

Try using bleach on the stains—or mixing bleach with some water and spraying that all over the orange stains. 

Allow it to sit for a good 20 minutes before scrubbing and rinsing. Repeat as necessary.

Iron Out

Iron Out is a rust stain remover that can be incredibly effective on any orange stain in a bathtub caused by rust and hard water. It’s a family-safe and eco-friendly cleaning product that can be used on bathtubs, sinks, floors, and more. 

All Iron Out products are made with the planet and future generations in mind, so it’s a cleaning product you can use and feel good about.


Clean bathtub

The best way to handle orange water stains in the bathtub is to prevent them from happening in the first place. Here are three great prevention techniques to help keep your bathtub white and orange-stain-free!

Wipe the Tub Dry After Use

As mentioned before, moist areas tend to be a great place for bacteria to thrive so keeping your bathtub as dry as possible can help reduce bacteria growth. After you’re done in the shower, give the tub a quick rinse and then wipe it down dry with a small towel.

Filtration System to Remove Iron

If you have high iron and magnesium levels in your water that are causing orange stains in your bathtub, it might be time to update the filtration system in your home. 

Talk to an experienced plumber about what filtration options are available to you and your home to help get the mineral levels under control.

Use a Stain-Resistant Tub

Sometimes stains in a bathtub are unavoidable all because of the material type. If you just can’t get the orange stains under control, try replacing your tub with something that’s stain-resistant. 

Fiberglass tubs and some acrylic tubs, for instance, are prone to stains and discoloration. Materials like cast polymer, cast iron, or copper are much more durable and stain-resistant.

Contact Long Home About Bathtub Replacements

If you’re fed up with all the orange stains in the bathtub needing constant cleaning, it may be time to consider a bathtub replacement. Contact Long Baths and our experts can help you determine the best tub for your space.

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**Excludes labor. Subject to credit approval.

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