Since moving into my apartment 2 years ago, I've periodically noticed
little red spots and streaks appearing just about everywhere. I clean them
when I can, but they are difficult to remove. Until recently the spots were
limited to the walls, mainly in the bathroom. They always appear in groups,
sometime looking like drips, sometimes like spots, and sometimes like
splashes. They appear both low on the walls near the floor and high up near
the ceilings, near windows and on iterior walls, in just about every room,
sometimes behind appliances, sometimes near light switches, and now on my
furniture! Today I noticed more on the wall in my living room, and, not to
far away, a spray of them on the side of my computer monitor! They are
orange/chocolate/rust in color. I cannot figure out whats causing them.
When they appeared in the bathroom and under light switches I assumed it was
rust stains from the humidity. Then when they appeared in the living room I
guessed it might have been rust from pipes behind the walls. Now that I've
found it on my computer monitor and other furniture, some of which is
nowhere near a wall, I'm completely baffled. Anybody have any clues? It's
almost creepy how baffling it is. I feel like Lady MacBeth cleaning phantom
blood from everywhere!
It's definaely not flies. The spots rage in size from pinpoint spots to
splotches bigger than my thumbprint. They look exactly like residue from
dried-up rusty water, but there is no source for rust-water nearby.
Sounds like Serratia marcescens. It's a common red bacterium that
usually spreads through the air and doesn't require much to live.
The reddish "mildew" that appears on my white painted surfaces is
probably this bacterium. I have found a solution of 2 tablespoons borax
and 2 tablespoons ammonia in a quart of water to be a good cleaner for
household surfaces. It removes those reddish spots pretty easily. The
ammonia may not be necessary for this application.
If you don't rinse, the trace of borax left behind will inhibit the
growth of microbes. Studies of borax miners have shown that it's pretty
harmless to humans.
What causes this bacteria to appear in my apartment? I have never seen it
anywhere else I've lived. I also use an ultra-alergen air filter in my
ventilation system. Could the bacteria be infesting the ducts beyond the
filter? Should I contact my landlord to have the ducts disinfected or could
I do it myself?
I suppose the spots could be caused by something else.
You mentioned humidity. If it was less humid where you lived before,
that could have kept this germ from growing.
It often gets started when people open windows in the spring and the
spores blow in. It can also start when remodeling stirs up old dust.
Once colonies start growing in the house, they can generate spores to
start more colonies. Cleaning with borax works for me because it
eliminates sources of spores and makes a surface inhospitable for new
If you have central air conditioning, I suppose it could provide a damp,
dirty place for the bacteria to grow. Alt.home.repair might have people
who know if this happens and how systems are disinfected.
These bacteria are very common and used to be considered harmless. It's
possible for them to cause pneumonia and urinary-tract infections.
Lloyd, you were exactly right! We had noticed red spots on our bathroom
ceiling also. My wife picked up some Borax and I cleaned the ceiling using
your recipe (without the ammonia) and it worked beautifully! My wife says
it looks like I painted the ceiling! Thanks!
Another scenario, although Borax is also a good cleaning agent for this
If this apartment was repainted just before you moved in two years ago, this
could be cigarette smoke stains coming through the top coat. They probably
didn't clean the walls and ceiling first. Ever notice an ashtray smell
after you take a shower?
I don't understand why they'd be on your furniture, though, so Lloyd is
Do any of you have pets?? Sounds like a flea infestation. It's flea dirt (poo)
that is getting wet and turning In to red/rusty color. Mainly found in bathroom.
If you have pets I guarantee its fleas, and when your pets groom themselves the
flea dirt falls off, gets damp, turns from black to reddish color. Hope this
replying to Adam Schwartz, Jessica Floyd wrote:
Me too!! I just googled this. I recently moved i to an old country home built
in the. 30s and then remodeled due to a tornado in the 80s. When I moved in at
first I thought nothing of it. The spots (sometimes splashes..) will reappear
within a day or too...even in the inside of my washing machine lid and top.. On
top of toilet and in random places.. I think even on my bedding!! I'm concerned
these are eggs of some type that I am not familiar with.. What have you found
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