The word “mold” often conjures images of a black, gray, or greenish growth, often around food and water. But these aren’t the only characteristics of mold. Sometimes, it can have more of a reddish appearance.

What exactly is red mold, though? And how do you get rid of it? Most importantly, is it dangerous?

Keep reading to find out the answers to these questions and more.

Even though red mold is unsightly, the mold itself is usually harmless — if you’re in good health.

If you’re sensitive or allergic to mold, exposure can cause problems like respiratory distress. Also, exposure can trigger infections in the skin, lungs, eyes, and other organs.

Those susceptible to complications include:

Symptoms of mold sensitivity

If you’re sensitive to mold, you may experience the following symptoms:

Complications don’t only occur from breathing in mold, but also from ingesting mold. So be sure to discard any food that contains red mold. Accidentally ingesting red mold might not be harmful, but it’s safer to err on the side of caution.

If you’ve been exposed to red mold and develop signs of irritation, see a doctor immediately to treat the reaction.

Several at-home products can effectively remove red mold. Before cleaning surfaces, protect yourself to prevent contact with the mold. Always wear goggles, gloves, and a dust mask. You should also open a window before cleaning to increase ventilation.

To clean red mold from hard surfaces (bathroom showers, walls, and floors), you can use a commercial cleaning product like bleach.

Combine one-part bleach with three parts water. Next, soak a cloth in the bleach solution and apply it over the surface. Let the solution sit for about an hour, and then scrub and rinse with warm water.

Removing red mold from hard surfaces

You can also use white vinegar to remove mold from hard surfaces. Pour the vinegar into a bowl or bucket. Using a cloth, apply the white vinegar over the surface. Let it sit for an hour, and then scrub and rinse with warm water.

Removing red mold from grout

To remove red mold on grout, mix one-part water with one-part vinegar in a spray bottle. Spray the grout and allow the solution to sit for about five minutes. Use a toothbrush to scrub the grout. Wipe away residue with warm water.

Or, apply a small amount of baking soda to the vinegar mixture to create a paste. Apply the paste to the grout. Let it sit for five minutes. Scrub with a toothbrush and then rinse with warm water.

Removing red mold from shower curtains

If red mold develops on your shower curtain, place the shower curtain in the bathtub. Add 2 quarts of water and 4 tablespoons of non-chlorine bleach. Let the shower curtain sit for an hour, and then scrub and rinse with warm water.

You can also combine two parts hydrogen peroxide with one-part water in a spray bottle. Lay the shower curtain flat on the floor. Spray the curtain with the peroxide mixture and allow the solution to sit for 30 minutes. Scrub and rinse with warm water.

Removing red mold from drywall

For mold on drywall or other building material, contact a professional mold removal company.

Mold is a type of fungus that grows indoors and outdoors. It thrives in moist, warm conditions so it’s typically found around water leaks. It may also be found on food, drywall, and fabric.

Because red mold is different in color, one misconception is that it’s its own mold species. But red mold isn’t a specific type of mold. The name simply refers to its appearance.

Interestingly, any type of mold can become red at some point, as it’s not unusual for mold to change colors. Therefore, black mold, green mold, and even white mold can become red over time, and vice versa.

Although red mold isn’t its own species of mold, certain types of mold are more likely to turn red. This includes Aspergillus which is mostly found in bathrooms and grows on water-damaged materials. Also, Neurospora which grows on food, and Fusarium which grows on plants and in soil.

Some people use the terms pink mold and red mold interchangeably. But while the two are similar in appearance, pink mold isn’t the same as red mold.

Red mold is a fungus, whereas pink mold is actually a water-borne bacterium commonly found in bathrooms.

Different factors contribute to mold appearing reddish in color. A change in humidity level or exposure to light can cause mold to turn a different color. Additionally, a food source can sometimes influence the color of mold.

The exact cause of red mold — or any mold — really depends on the location of the growth. Since mold thrives in moist, wet conditions, it can develop around plumbing, in walls, and underneath carpet due to a water leak.

Mold is found everywhere. But for it to grow, mold spores (which circulate in the air) must come in contact with a moist surface. In which case, mold can start to grow within 24 to 48 hours.

Eliminating excess moisture is key to preventing the growth of red mold. To do this, reduce the humidity level in your home. As a general rule of thumb, indoor humidity should remain below 50 percent.

Run your air condition to minimize humidity levels or get a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture from the air.

Also, fix plumbing or roof leaks as soon as possible to prevent mold growth. Signs of a water leak include:

  • condensation on the inside of your windows
  • cracked tiles
  • water spots on ceiling and drywall

Installing a bathroom fan can increase ventilation and reduce mold growth, too. You can even buy mold-resistant items for your bathroom like mold-resistant shower curtains, floor carpets, and tiles.

In addition, refrigerating and keeping food covered can reduce its exposure to mold spores and help stop the growth of mold.

Red mold is usually harmless, but it can cause health problems if you’re sensitive, allergic, or have a compromised immune system.

To protect yourself, take immediate steps to eliminate mold from your home, and properly store food to avoid accidentally ingesting it.