Food fermentation, antibiotics, and pollutant degradation are closely related to bacteria. Bacteria play an irreplaceable role in life. However, some bacteria seriously threaten human health and cause large-scale infectious diseases. Therefore, there is a pressing need to develop strategies to accurately monitor bacteria. Technology based on molecular probes and fluorescence imaging is noninvasive, results in little damage, and has high specificity and sensitivity, so it has been widely applied in the detection of bacteria. In this review, we summarize the recent progress in bacterial detection using fluorescence. In particular, we generalize the mechanisms commonly used to design organic fluorescent probes for detecting and imaging bacteria. Moreover, a perspective regarding fluorescent probes for bacterial detection is discussed.