Yellow or Orange Stains & Spots on Bathroom Ceiling

If you notice you have spots on your bathroom ceiling turning yellow or orange, you are in the right place.

While discoloration on bathroom ceilings is not ideal, it is a relatively common form of moisture or water damage on ceilings.

In this article, we will help you identify the cause of them and explain how to fix & remove them to help prevent any further issues.

Yellow / Orange Spots on Bathroom Ceiling – What Are They? 

When you see a yellow or dark orange spot on your bathroom ceiling, you are definitely looking at an issue being caused by water.

This can be due to excess humidity in the air or water coming from above your ceiling- Such as a Burst/leaking Pipe in your ceiling.

Yellow Spots on Bathroom Ceiling

1. Yellow Mold

Sometimes a yellow spot can be the start of mold growth on your bathroom ceiling. 

Mold is pretty unmistakable with its fuzzy, textured look. 

When the hot, humid air from your shower has nowhere to go it can create a mold causing build up. 

Besides cleaning the mold away, you can open a window or turn on a bathroom vent fan to get the steamy shower air circulating.

2. Yellow Condensation Spots

Many times, the steam created from a hot shower has extra minerals that can cause a yellow spot to pop up on your ceiling. 

This does not mean your water is unsafe. This happens with well water, but can also be present with city water. 

Just like with mold, the best way to combat this is by creating air flow in your bathroom, especially at shower time. 

You can also heat your bathroom prior to turning on the shower to allow the walls to warm up.

By allowing the walls to warm up, condensation is less likely to accumulate where the warm water hits a colder surface. 

If you do not have a bathroom vent or a way to heat your walls, you can always wipe your walls dry after a shower to prevent the collection of moisture. 

You can also invest in a dehumidifier to use during and after your shower.

Orange Spots on Bathroom Ceiling

While an orange discoloration might be surprising at first, it really is not that taboo.

Orange spots on your bathroom ceiling can mainly occur from two things: mold or iron in your water. 

1. Orange Mold

Since mold thrives in humid conditions, the bathroom is a common place for it to start growing.

Consider turning on a bathroom or opening a window during your shower.

2. Orange Condensation Spots

If you have well water, you could have high levels of iron contributing towards the discoloration on your ceiling. 

This happens when the condensation from your hot showers collects and dries on the ceiling. 

Over time, the discoloration becomes visible to you but has actually been building up over time. 

Since this is an issue with water collecting, it is best to use a bathroom fan or vent to push the air around and out of the bathroom to prevent the stain from happening on your ceiling.

It is also recommended to check your ceiling insulation, as a lack of insulation could be contributing to a collection of condensation in certain areas.

As with yellow spots, if you do not have a bathroom vent, consider wiping your walls dry or investing in a dehumidifier to help prevent moisture collection that leads to these orange spots on your bathroom ceiling.

Large Yellow Stains on Bathroom Ceilings

A yellow spot on your bathroom ceiling typically implies an issue with humidity. This can happen easily because of shower steam getting trapped inside.

1. Humidity

When your bathroom walls are cooler than the steam created during your shower, the humidity can build up.

At first you won’t notice any discoloration but over time you will notice the yellow stain forming.

Often in tap water, there is an uneven amount of minerals present that can cause these types of stains.

Just as with large orange stains on your bathroom ceiling, this does not mean your water should be considered unsafe.

2. Leaky Pipe or Water Damage From Roof

However, it is important to make sure that this stain on your bathroom ceiling is not the early signs of a leaky pipe or a leaky roof.

If you notice that the yellow stains looks like it is on the ceiling but more so on the drywall than the paint, like its almost behind the paint, then this is likely the cause. 

If you are able, check the pipes in your attic above the bathroom ceiling to look for any visible leaks.

If you spot a leak, you will want to call a professional to fix it for you right away.

Water Damage in Ceiling?

Call 844-994-1288 for a Risk Free estimate from a Licensed Water Damage Restoration Specialist in your area.

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Most Common Causes of Yellowish Stains or Drips on Walls

Mineral Deposits

The humidity from your shower may collect along your bathroom ceiling on ceiling corners and drop down the walls as it dries. 

If your water has a high count of minerals, these drips can dry yellow and cause staining on your bathroom walls.

The best way to combat this is to have a bathroom exhaust fan on or window open during your showers.

Surfactant Leaching

Most water-based paints contain something called surfactants. Surfactants are meant to help paint spread evenly and maintain quality.

However, when a newly painted area becomes very humid too quickly, the surfactants can come to the surface and leave behind discolored streaks on your bathroom walls.

This happens frequently in bathrooms because of the humidity that collects from frequent, hot showers.

To prevent this issue, consider painting the bathroom when the weather outside is dry and warm to help the paint dry faster and evenly. 

Also ensuring there is an adequate amount of time for the paint to dry and set before using the shower helps reduce any chance of leaching to occur.


If someone currently or has recently smoked in your home, yellow tinted nicotine stains on the bathroom walls might occur.

This is a specialized circumstance, but can’t go without mentioning since it is a possibility. 

If this is the cause, you might notice other yellow stains in other areas of your home as well.

How to Clean These Spots & Stains from Bathroom Ceiling 

1. Treating Orange Spots from Iron

When the orange spots on your bathroom ceiling are caused by iron in your water, working to prevent it from returning once it is cleaned is important.

One way to clean this stain is to:

  1. Spray vinegar onto the ceiling.
  2. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Use a sponge to scrub the area.
  4. Let the area dry.
  5. Repeat if needed.

If you feel like you need something more heavy duty:

  • In a spray bottle, mix 1 part bleach and 10 parts water
  • Spray this onto the orange area.
  • Let it sit for 10-15 minutes.
  • Use a sponge to scrub the area.
  • Let it dry.
  • Repeat as needed.

2. Treating Yellow Stains from Humidity

The first treatment we recommend is trying to clean your ceiling with simple soap and warm water.

This may need to be done a few times to totally clean the area, but should prove effective.

  • Add warm water to a bucket with an adequate amount of soap.
  • Soak a sponge in the mixture then wipe the discolored section of the ceiling.
  • Rinse the soap off and wipe away the excess moisture.
  • Let it dry.
  • Repeat until the ceiling is clean again.

3. Stubborn Stains

If you’ve tried warm water and soap, hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, and even bleach but had no success, you really have tried it all.

If none of these techniques are working, at the very least you have cleaned the area very well.

The next option would be to paint over the stain.

To do this, apply a stain blocking primer to the area.

Once dried, paint over with your ceiling paint. 

Dealing with Yellow Stains on Bathroom Walls

Bathroom walls can accumulate stains in similar ways to your bathroom ceiling.

1. Humidity Stains on Bathroom Walls

Before diving deep into cleaning supplies, try cleaning the area with a mixture of warm water and soap and a sponge.

Once applied and wiped, rinse the area thoroughly and let it dry.

If the stain is still visible, you can try bleach:

  • In a spray bottle, mix:1 part bleach with 10 parts water
  • Spray onto the stained area and let it sit for 15 minutes.
  • Use a sponge the wipe away.
  • Rinse with water.
  • Let it dry thoroughly.
  • Repeat if needed. 

2. Treating Drip Stains from Surfactant Leaching 

Surfactant leaching should be able to be easily wiped from the walls if the drips are still damp.

You might have to wipe them away a few times, but it should subside.

If wiping them away isn’t enough, try warm soapy water and a sponge. 

Make sure to dry the area entirely after wiping the stain.

3. Yellow Nicotine Stains

In a spray bottle combine:

  • 1 quart of water
  • 1 tablespoon of vinegar 
  • ½ teaspoon of dish detergent

Spray the mixture onto the stain.

Allow for it to sit for 15 minutes.

Use a scrub to wipe the mixture and rinse.

Allow the area to dry.

4. Treating Mold on Bathroom Ceiling

When dealing with mold you want to clean the area and remove the stain.

To do this, mix one part hydrogen peroxide with one part warm water in a spray bottle.

Spray the mixture onto the stain and let it sit for 15 minutes.

Use a sponge the scrub the area and wipe the stain.

Rinse with water and let dry.

Repeat, as needed.

In Case It Can’t Be Completely Cleaned

If none of the suggestions above clean your bathroom ceiling stain completely, you might need to whip out the paintbrush. 

You will need a paintbrush, your ceiling paint, and a stain blocking primer.

Prior to painting, make sure you have cleaned the area thoroughly and it is completely dry. 

If you tried any of the alternatives above, the area is most likely cleaned so once its totally dry you’re good to move forward.

If you do not clean the area and let it dry, you are risking having the stain reappear on your bathroom ceiling and having to repeat this all over again.

First, apply the stain blocking primer.

Once dry, apply your ceiling paint.

If your stain is from heavy water damage, before painting you do want to make sure that your ceiling drywall is still durable enough to handle being painted. 

If not, you could cause more damage by weakening your ceiling or causing mold. 

When to call a Professional 

If you suspect that your bathroom ceiling stain is due to a leaking pipe, it is important to call a professional to help you ensure the problem is properly fixed. Waiting to fix the leak can cause an even bigger leak or ceiling damage to occur. 


We have Water Damage Restoration Technicians that can help Find the Source of the Water Damage in your ceilings & Repair any Water Damage caused.

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