Relax! Killer Bacteria in Bathroom Sinks Won’t Hurt (Most Of) You

Bathroom sink with fusarium bacteriaThe fusarium bacteria lives in most bathroom drains, but unless you have a compromised immune system, it probably won't hurt you. Image: Liz Foreman for HouseLogic

Don’t have a conniption over the fusarium bacteria researchers say commonly live in bathroom sink drains: It probably won’t kill you.

It’s easy to panic when someone finds a fungus among us. And news that Penn State University researchers found fusarium bacteria living in bathroom sink drains around the country made us grab the Lysol and a Xanax. Fusarium can cause sinus infections, ringworm, pink eye, and dangerous skin infections that some compare to leprosy.

Is it hot in here?  Or are we worrying for nothing?

That depends, says lead researcher Dylan Short.

Perfectly healthy people need not fear the dreaded bacteria, which is “mostly harmless” in people with normal immune systems.

However, fusarium also lurks in hospital sink drains, where patients with compromised immune systems wash their faces and brush their teeth.

“Hospitals should be taking this seriously,” Short says; the rest of us can relax.

That’s easier said than done for antimicrobial junkies who clean and kill bacteria on every countertop and bathroom fixture.

For them, pouring an ammonia or bleach solution (3 parts water: 1 part chemical) down the drain can help ease their minds — and it might even kill a few bacteria.

“Any product designed to eliminate bacteria or mold will work,” says James Steinle, owner of Atomic Plumbing in Virginia Beach, Va. “But, you’ll always get some kind of bacteria in a sink drain. Unless you’ve got a smell problem, don’t worry about it.”

Will you lose sleep over the fusarium in your drain?