30 Days to Neat!
De-cluttering, Organizing, Cleaning and Functional Design Tips
From The Mountain Clutter Coach
From The Mountain Clutter Coach
When I moved back to Asheville from California and started my residential cleaning business, the first thing I noticed about the bathrooms here versus bathrooms in California was this mysterious pink slime that seemed to form in virtually everyone’s bathroom. It builds up in the grout of tile, it builds up around the drain of the tub, it builds up around the faucet and drain of the sink, and leaves a ring in toilets, and in rarely used toilets the entire surface covered in water turns pink. In some houses it builds up heavy, it some lightly, and some seem to escape it’s disgusting aesthetics all together. After noticing it, my inner Sherlock began to develop theories about this stuff. I knew I could google it and find an answer, but part of me just didn’t want to know about my possible impending doom. Somehow, it was easier to just theorize about it instead. So, my first theory was they are treating the water here with something weird that one of the nine billion environmental laws in California just wouldn’t allow in your home. My second theory was that there was some scary amoeba in our water just waiting to enter my ear, and devour my brain. After a while, I got brave enough to ask a client who inspects homes for a living if he knew what it was? He told me it was some bacteria in our water, and it was harmless. I decided to ride with that answer for a year, and regurgitated it to several clients when they mentioned it to me. But eventually, I had to do my own research. What did I find?
Well first off, it’s not some crazy biological warfare chemical to kill all the liberals in Asheville! (Well actually it could be, but I’m just going to be the cleaning lady, not the conspiracy theorist.) And it’s not some flesh or brain munching amoeba, we can all be glad about that! And it’s not in our water! Wait what, but it occurs in places that water pools? Nope, it’s an airborne bacteria, Serratia marcescens, and it thrives in a damp environment, hence why I never saw it in dry northern California. It’s a gram negative, anaerobic bacteria, anaerobic means it does not require oxygen to live. And though it was once thought to be harmless, that isn’t true.
Serratia marcescens is a human pathogen, that once established in the body, can be difficult to get rid of as it is resistant to certain antibiotics. It has been known to infect babies, small children, and the immuno-compromised. Serratia m. can cause urinary tract infections, pneumonia, meningitis, conjunctivitis (pink-eye), endocarditis, infection to open wounds, among other dis-ease. Wow! Right? Glad I looked this up, and now I bet my clients are extra glad that I’m the one scrubbing their bathrooms.
For those of you who don’t have a cleaning service, how do you clean it? Well, bleach is an option and one that works really well. Using a product like Clorox Clean-Up Foamer that will sit on the surface for a couple minutes will kill the bacteria 100%. If you have bad buildup of the bacteria, I suggest you do this initially on and in all surfaces that are porous, like grout or scratched porcelain. It can be maintained with natural cleaners after the initial killing of the colony. If you don’t have a bad build up, you can start with the natural stuff. Any cleaner with vinegar, baking soda, tea tree, lavender or thieves essential oils will usually do the trick. We use Mrs. Meyer’s all-purpose spray in the bathrooms we clean, which all contain bacteria eliminating essential oils. When I spray it in the toilet, I watch the film dissolve and lose its pink color in about five minutes. Then, I scrub with a plastic bristled brush, and flush a couple times. When it comes to showers, tubs, and sinks, I use a baking soda cleaner with essential oils, and a toothbrush to get around the drains and faucets well. It is important to disturb the entire colony and then rinse it away thoroughly. Never use a metal brush or scrubber because they will scratch porcelain and tile surfaces and create a larger porous surface area for the bacteria to thrive in.
Can Serratia marcescens be prevented? Yes, there are things that you can do to reduce the growth of this airborne bacteria in your bathroom and throughout your home, and help prevent human infection from this pathogen.
So….. are you totally grossed out now, and completely paranoid? Yep, I am too! Part of me wishes I had never done my research on this one, but the other part is so glad I did. I couldn’t not share it with you too. Health is wealth, and cleanliness is godliness!