With boating season approaching, it’s time to address a common problem: pink stains on vinyl. If you own a boat, you will definitely be familiar with this issue.
What Are These Pink Stains?
Often times these pink stains on boat seats look like spilled juice and can be incredibly noticeable on white vinyl. Most people naturally assume this is a type of pink mold, but in actuality, these stains are caused by a dye that is produced by the actinomycete bacterial species, Streptomyces (previously referred to as Streptoverticillium reticulum).
It is not the only species that causes the staining problem, but it is the best known offender.
These bacteria can be found on the vinyl surface as well as in the actual foam under the vinyl. And like most bacteria, they thrive in moist, warm environments. Essentially a boat is their dream home, with everything they need to grow.
The dye can migrate quite a distance from the source. This is because the dye is water soluble. So, even though a stain originates from one tiny spot, the dye can continue to move outwards from the source if moisture is present, allowing the stain to grow bigger in size.
Additionally, if these bacteria are growing in one material, for example, the foam cushioning inside a boat seat, the dye can easily migrate upward and permanently stain the vinyl upholstery that is on top.
In a Petr-dish setting, the bacteria are normally white or light pink in colour when viewed from above and the underside is an intense pink color. However, the color of the dye can range from red to purple or pink to brown depending on the growing conditions.
Where Else Can Pink Stains On Vinyl Be Found?
You may have found our blog because you were concerned about the pink stains on your linoleum or vinyl floor. These same pink staining bacteria are most likely the culprit, especially if moisture is being trapped under your floors.
Bacteria could possibility be growing on your subfloor with the dye migrating upwards over time, causing the mysterious pink or rust colored splotches to appear.
Pool liners, PVC vinyl roofing membranes and any other areas where light colored plastic and polymer materials come into contact with water, are susceptible to the stains that Streptoverticillium reticulum can cause.
How to Remove Pink Stains from Vinyl
Ensuring your boat stays dry is one way to ensure at least a slowed rate of growth for the bacteria. Be sure to store your boat properly, and keep moisture in mind.
Removing stains from vinyl is not easy. If you already have pink stains forming, there are some cleaners that can help lessen the appearance such as Gestalt Scientific’s Pink Away that was recently written about in Boating‘s online magazine, but nothing will remove it completely. Be careful if using bleach to try and clean these stains, as it can cause unnecessary damage to the vinyl and stitching.
To be sure you are getting the best protection before the problem can develop, check with your upholstery provider to see if they are using Ultra-Fresh in their products.
How Ultra-Fresh Helps Combat Pink Stains On Vinyl and In Polyurethane Foam
Ultra-Fresh is an antimicrobial additive that helps stop the growth of the Streptomyces bacteria – along with a variety of other types of odour and stain causing bacteria, mold and mildew. This antimicrobial additive is incorporated during the manufacturing process and can be added to all components of marine seating (including vinyl, foam and stitching thread) to help prevent unsightly pink stains on vinyl. It also has the added benefit of controlling unpleasant odors and prolonging degradation of the polyurethane foam and vinyl.
What Test Method is Used to Assess Resistance to Pink Staining?
After vinyl and foam, destined for the marine, flooring, pool liner industries, etc. are manufactured, many different types of specifications must be met. A common industry standard used to test vinyl, foam or any other types of polymer materials against the pink staining bacteria, is the ASTM E1428.