Why your toothbrush turns pink- The pink mold

Ever experienced some of your toothbrush bristles turn pink until the color is completely taken over by all the bristles? Well, I have and trust me, I was worried. First time it happened, I took out the toothbrush from its case and gave it a thorough washing by working my fingers in the bristles. It didn't really help much though. That got me researching about the mysterious color.

From my research, I discovered that the pink color could be caused by a few factors. These include a bleeding gum (this can be checked out by a dentist. It can be a sign of an underlying gum disease which can be treated if discovered early), the toothpaste components (certain raw materials used in the production of toothpastes may leave a characteristic pink color after use), the material used in making the toothbrush bristles (some toothbrushes are made to change color after some time in order to discourage the usage of the toothbrushes for a prolonged period of time) and most alarming of the factors is a bacteria known as Serratia marcescens.

Serratia marcescens also known as the pink mold is a type of mold commonly found growing around bathroom fixtures and fittings, in the sink, around the water line inside the toilet bowl and on toothbrushes. It is an airborne bacterium, pink in appearance, which grows in moist, damp places and feeds on the residue of soaps, toothpastes and shampoos. In the absence of a food source, it will even feed upon itself if all other conditions are present. In humans, S. marcescens can cause an opportunistic infection in several sites, including the urinary tract, respiratory tract, wounds, and the eye, where it may cause conjunctivitis, keratitis, endophthalmitis, and tear duct infections.

Once established, complete eradication of the organism is often difficult, but can be accomplished by application of a bleach-based disinfectant. Rinsing and drying surfaces after use can also prevent the establishment of the bacterium by removing its food source and making the environment less hospitable.
Products containing chlorine can kill the mold. Mix 1 cup of bleach with 1 gallon of water in a bucket. Soak a rag in the solution and use the rag to thoroughly clean all affected areas. Use a small scrubbing brush or toothbrush to clean around small bathroom fixtures and the toilet rim using the bleach solution. Rinse the areas you cleaned with warm water and a fresh cleaning rag. Make sure to throw away the rag used.

As for toothbrushes, the best thing to do is discarding the brushes because no amount of rinsing will take away the pink discolouration completely.  Isn't it safer to be safe than sorry? Get a new toothbrush, doesn't cost much. Health is wealth so stay healthy!


She is a passionate writer who devotes time and resources to inform and educate on various health issues. The healthwise is her way of giving back to the society.