Difference Between Mold And Mildew

There’s a lot of confusion about the difference between mold and mildew, likely because of how much these two organisms have in common. In fact, mildew is simply a particular type of mold.

Both mold and mildew are fungi that thrive in moist environments, and both often are found in the home, especially in damp areas that have been subjected to water damage.

While mold and mildew have many similarities, some key characteristics also differentiate them and dictate how to get rid of them.

difference between mold and mildew

Mold Vs Mildew

Mold looks slimy or fuzzy, while mildew is powdery. Mildew usually looks white or gray and dry, or even powdery. It always appears flat. Mold, on the other hand, often is raised and can be green, red, blue, or black. Plus, it generally looks either slimy or fuzzy.

Another way to identify the difference is by smell. Mildew has a milder, musty smell that some compare to damp socks, but mold smells stronger and more pungent. The reason mold has a more powerful odor is that as it grows, it produces microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOCs).

Mold burrows, but mildew grows on the surface. Both mold and mildew can appear on natural materials like wood, paper, or leather. In the home, they’re most likely to show up in damp areas like basements, bathroom walls, and anywhere with past water damage.

In its early stages, mildew appears almost white. It then often shifts to gray or brown. In its final stages, mildew can appear powdery. In comparison, mold presents in darker shades. It can be dark red, forest green, or even inky black.  

Mildew often first appears as a small dot. From there, it grows outward, but it remains on the surface of the wall or material at hand. Mold, on the other hand, can quickly grow inward, eating into the wall or surface and damaging your home. It can also grow upward, moving up the wall and to the ceiling.

Mildew, in particular, thrives in humidity a relative humidity between 62 and 93 percent is ideal for growth which is why you’ll see it in shower stalls and on windowsills.

Temperature also matters, with mildew generally reproducing when temperatures range between 77 and 88 °F. Mildew is a surface fungi, so it’s easy to spot in those moist areas, and leads to less damage.

Mold, on the other hand, is more insidious and burrows underneath the surface, making it harder to eliminate.

Mildew can cause some health effects but effects from mold are more severe. Health risks some with the presence of both mold and mildew, but the effects of mold especially black mold, or Stachybotrys chartarum is much more severe.

People can suffer mild respiratory problems, sore throats, and headaches from mildew. Mold, on the other hand, can affect the nervous system and result in memory loss, headaches, mood changes, and depression.

Mold also can cause skin and eye irritation, congestion, respiratory illnesses, and general aches and pains. Because of this, eliminating both mold and mildew as soon as they’re detected is essential.

Mildew can be removed with household products and cleaners, but removing mold is more complicated. A major difference between mold and mildew is how to eliminate each.

Standard household cleaning products and scrubbing brushwork on mildew, which exists on surfaces. Once a fungus has been identified as mold, however, it’s important to establish what kind of mold it is because the procedure for removing it varies depending on the type.

Some types of mold can be removed with bleach or specialized cleaning products while wearing protective gear like a mask and goggles. Others, namely Stachybotrys chartarum, require hiring a mold removal professional.

What is Mildew?

Mildew is a specific type of mold; FEMA describes it as early-stage mold. Like other kinds of mold, mildew is a microscopic fungus that travels through the air in the form of tiny spores. When these spores land in damp or humid environments, mildew begins to colonize and grow.

Unlike mold, mildew doesn’t penetrate surfaces and grow into the materials it lands on (though it can still cause cosmetic damage). Instead, it grows on top of flat surfaces and often collects in places like the grout between your bathroom tiles.

While mildew is unsightly and should be removed as soon as you notice it, it’s generally much easier to spot and get rid of than mold. Because mildew sits on top of the surfaces it grows on, all you generally need to remove it is a good household cleaner and a scrub brush.

See also: What Is Mildew?| Causes, Health Effect And Prevention.

What is Mold?

Mold is a type of fungus that floats through the air in the form of microscopic spores. There are more than 100,000 known species of mold, many of which are harmless to humans. However, certain species are prone to growing indoors. If left to grow, mold can cause damage to your home and make you sick.

Mold can grow on just about any organic surface where moisture and oxygen are present, including wood, carpets, paper, furniture, plants, and insulation.

Because it grows best in damp environments, mold is commonly found in bathrooms, basements, kitchens, and crawl spaces. It also often grows near leaks in roofs and windows or behind appliances where water has collected.

See also: What is Mold? | Everything You Need To Know About Mold

While Mildew grows on top of flat surfaces, mold penetrates the surface and grows into a porous material, eventually breaking it down and causing lasting damage.

Mold growth reveals itself in the form of irregular patches of green, black, brown, orange, pink, purple, or other colors. It often appears fuzzy and is typically accompanied by a musty smell.

Mold can cause minor to severe health issues, depending on the species, length of exposure, and whether or not the individual has any pre-existing conditions, such as allergies or asthma.

If you’re experiencing cold- or flu-like symptoms and you think mold may be the culprit, it’s important to get in touch with your doctor and contact a qualified mold remediation contractor.

Main Difference Between Mold and Mildew

  • Mold looks slimy or fuzzy, while mildew is powdery.
  • Mold is usually black, green and red in colour while mildew is grey or white in colour.
  • Mildew has a milder, musty smell that some compare to damp socks, but mold smells stronger and more pungent.
  • Mold grows penetrating beneath the surfaces while, the mildew grows only on the surfaces.
  • Mildew is more common in bathrooms, fabrics, and paper but, mold commonly grow on food.

Similarities Between Mold and Mildew

  1. Mold and Mildew are fungi.
  2. Also, both are eukaryotes.
  3. Furthermore, they prefer the same types of habitats especially moist and warm surfaces.
  4. Moreover, there are pathogenic plant molds as well as mildews.
  5. Similarly, they are saprophytes as well.
  6. Besides, both molds and mildews are commonly found in our homes.
  7. And, they cause health problems as well as structural damages.

FAQ

How do I know if it’s mold or mildew?

Mildew is a surface fungus that can easily be identified as a patch of gray or even white fungus that is lying on the surface of a moist area. Mildew is easily treated with a store-bought cleaner and a scrubbing brush. Mold, on the other hand, can be black or green and is often the result of a much larger infestation.

Can mildew be mistaken for mold?

Mildew is a specific type of mold; FEMA describes it as early-stage mold. Like other kinds of mold, mildew is a microscopic fungus that travels through the air in the form of tiny spores. When these spores land in damp or humid environments, mildew begins to colonize and grow.

Can the smell of mold harm you?

A moldy odor suggests that mold is growing in the building and should be investigated. The health effects of inhaling MVOCs are largely unknown, although exposure to MVOCs has been linked to symptoms such as headaches, nasal irritation, dizziness, fatigue, and nausea.

Which is orse mold or mildew?

Without a doubt, mold is worse than mildew. According to American Home Shield, the difference between mold and mildew is that, unlike mildew, certain types of toxic molds can result in serious health problems for you and your family. Black mold, in particular, is dangerous for humans.

Is it mold or mildew in shower?

In other words, mildew is another name for mold, specifically the kind of mold that lives on shower walls, windowsills, and other spots in your house that are high in moisture. Mildew can also give off a scent, but it’s usually milder than mold.

Leave a Comment