Orange Stains In Shower Grout (Why + How To Fix)

Orange Stains In Shower Grout

The whole point of taking a shower is to get clean, but you don’t feel particularly clean when the shower grout’s stained. You can end up with all sorts of funk on shower grout, including orange stains.

Orange stains in shower grout are typically from a build-up of soap scum that can lead to bacteria and other contaminants. If you have hard water, there could be excessive amounts of iron in the water, leaving behind orange residue. Luckily, you can get rid of the stains, no matter the source, with a little DIY effort and household products.

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Orange stains in your shower grout are rarely dangerous, unlike harmful substances like black mold. Still, it’s understandable that you want to get rid of the stains as soon as possible, especially if bacteria’s to blame. Plus, you want your shower to be sparkling clean since a dirty shower can be a real ick factor.

Why Is My Shower Grout Orange?

It’s not uncommon to find some stains on your shower grout. After all, when you mix heat and moisture, you’re bound to have unpleasant things start to develop. But, this is why cleaning your shower regularly is so important (more on that later).

You might notice several different things starting to form on your grout, one of which is an orange color. These orange stains can begin to pop up anywhere on your shower grout, and they can leave you wondering.

But, you don’t need to panic; in most cases, these orange stains don’t pose a threat to your immediate health. However, you want to tackle them sooner rather than later.

1. The Orange Stains Are From Hard Water

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If your tap water has an excessive amount of mineral deposits, then you have hard water. These mineral deposits can lead to varying degrees of build up on surfaces. For example, you might notice a lot of calcium and limescale buildup on your shower fixtures.

Another type of buildup can be from excess iron deposits in the water, which leads to orange stains. When iron comes into contact with oxygen, rust can form–picture an iron park bench or patio furniture.

Rust is orange in color, so when the iron traces left behind on your grout make contact with oxygen, it stains. If you don’t address it quickly, it could lead to permanent marks.

Getting Rid Of Orange Stains From Hard Water

You have a couple of different options when it comes to hard water stains on your shower grout. You’ll need a soft-bristle brush, plus some white vinegar, lemon juice, and a spray bottle.

Combine ½ cup vinegar with ½ cup lemon juice and one cup of water. Use the spray bottle to saturate the orange stains and let it sit for about 30 minutes. Next, scrub it with the brush, then rinse clean.

If the stains are particularly stubborn you can create a paste with baking soda and some white vinegar. Spread it on the the stains and let it dry, then rinse it clean. Repeat the process if necessary.

If you have frequently recurring hard water issues, you might need to consider a more permanent solution. You can look into different filtration systems that can safely remove various minerals and bacteria from the water. Consult with a professional and have your water tested first if you decide to pursue this route.

2. The Orange Stains Are From Bacteria

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Airborne bacteria can make their way into your bathroom through vents, windows, etc. These bacteria love damp and humid environments, like your shower. If your shower hasn’t been cleaned recently, it creates even a more appealing home for bacteria.

This is because the less often you clean your shower, the more soap scum builds up. This soap scum is like a delicious feast to the bacteria infiltrating your shower.

It’s important to note that, even though this bacteria might not be a danger if you touch it, it can cause some problems. It’s more an issue for people with compromised immune systems, and it can lead to respiratory problems or urinary tract infections.

However, regardless of your health status, who wants to shower with bacteria growing on the walls? Plus, if you don’t address it in a timely manner, it can lead to permanent staining of your shower grout. So, no matter how much you clean your shower, it will never look clean.

Getting Rid Of Orange Stains From Bacteria

Even if the bacteria might not pose a significant threat, you still want to protect yourself. So, it’s best practice to wear goggles, gloves, and a mask.

You’ll need some baking soda, dish soap, and a soft scrub brush or toothbrush. First, mix ¼ cup baking soda with one teaspoon of dish soap. Next, use the brush to spread the mixture over the orange stains.

Allow the mixture to sit on the stains for about 10 minutes, then rinse the surface. If any stains remain, repeat the process.

3. Is It Orange Mold?

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If the bacteria that starts to build up on your shower grout goes unchecked, you might notice larger areas develop. It could start off as small spots of orange that you assume are stains, but transform into these slimy patches.

What you likely have in this case is a colony of mold, thriving on your shower’s humid environment. It also feeds off of soap scum and can even accompany other mold types.

Getting Rid Of Orange Mold

You need to eradicate orange mold ASAP, and fortunately, you can do so with items you likely already have.

  • Vinegar does a great job attacking orange mold; simply spray it (undiluted) directly onto the mold. Let it sit for at least an hour then scrub to work it into the grout. Rinse it thoroughly and let the surface dry completely. Repeat if any mold still remains. 
  • To add an extra touch of sanitizing and odor-neutralizing powder, include some baking soda. You can scrub the areas with baking soda, letting it sit for an hour then rinsing.
  • You can also create a paste with two parts baking soda and one part white vinegar. Allow it to dry on the surface you’re cleaning, then rinse.
  • Chlorine bleach is another option, diluting ¾ cup of bleach in one gallon of warm water. Scrub it on the the stains with a brush and let it sit for 10 minutes, scrub again, then rinse.
  • Alternatively you can mix a solution of ammonia, borax, and white vinegar. Never mix ammonia and bleach–this combo creates toxic gasses that can cause significant health issues. Mix ½ cup vinegar, ½ cup ammonia, and ¼ cup borax with one gallon of warm water in a bucket. Apply the solution to the stains with a sponge, then rinse clean.

Tips For Keeping Shower Grout Stain-Free

Once you’ve tackled the orange stains on your shower grout, it’s important to take steps to keep them at bay. Of course, cleaning your shower regularly is a vital course of action. But one of the best things you can do is ensure there’s proper ventilation in your bathroom.


Install a bathroom fan if you don’t already have one, and open up a window if you have one in the bathroom. Also, keep your shower dry–leave the shower door open after a shower, wipe it down with a towel, etc.

When you take away the moisture, you take away the breeding ground that bacteria and mold find so appealing. You can also add a weekly spray down with vinegar to your cleaning routine.


Make sure to get it into all of the crevices and nooks and anywhere else bacteria can hide. Spray it over the surfaces and then wipe it down with a clean cloth.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my shower grout turning pink?

Soap scum and buildup from other bath products and mineral deposits can become food for pink mold. This pink mold can pose several health threats like respiratory issues and UTIs among others. 

Luckily, you can eradicate pink mold in many of the same ways you tackle orange mold. In addition to scrubbing your shower walls, your shower curtain can also develop stains and mold.

You can simply toss most fabric shower curtains in the washing machine. If it isn’t washable, clean it with vinegar and let it air dry.

Why is my shower grout turning black?

If you notice black stuff growing on your shower grout, beware. It’s likely black mold, which is toxic and you need to address it pronto.

You can tackle black mold with an anti-fungal cleaner. You can also use a mixture of equal parts bleach and water for stubborn spots.

Then finish up with some vinegar to kill the mold spores. But be prepared to repeat both of these steps for a few weeks to eliminate all of the mold. If it keeps reappearing, you might need to call in a mold remediation expert.

What if I can’t get rid of the stains no matter how much I clean?

What if you’ve gotten rid of the mold or other sources of the stains, but the stains remain? Your shower is clean, but it just doesn’t look that way. You’ve likely had the elements causing the stains sitting for too long, causing permanent staining.

In this case, the only way to get back your sparkling grout is to get new grout. So, you can DIY it by scraping out the old grout and regrouting or call a pro. The cost will usually be by the square foot and can range from $10 to $20 per square foot.

If you plan to regrout your shower, do the whole thing, not just the area that is stained. This way you can maintain an even look throughout your whole shower.