Mold vs. Mildew: What's the Difference?

September 19, 2019
Mold vs. Mildew: What's the Difference?

If you’ve been reading the blog, you know what mold is and how to spot it; but, mold is not the only microscopic pest that may be inhabiting your home.

Mildew, another type of fungi, is the lesser of two evils. Many people cannot tell the difference between mold and mildew, but we are here to help!

While mold and mildew have many similarities, including the environment in which each can grow and thrive, there are plenty of differences that can range from substantial risks to human health to damages made to your property.

Mold & Mildew Similarities

Mold and mildew both thrive in moist, humid environments where a light source is either scarce or non-existent.

Both microorganisms grow when their spores (or seeds) find their way into suitable conditions for a colony to begin expanding.

These conditions require porous, organic material to live from like wood, fabric, paper, clothing, food, etc., but neither is very often found growing on synthetic materials such as plastic or metal-based products.

Most commonly in the household, mold and mildew are found in kitchens, bathrooms, basements, crawl spaces, attics, and garages.

Extended exposure to mold and mildew can carry some unpleasant health effects. Respiratory issues and headaches can both be symptoms of contact with mold or mildew.

Mold & Mildew Differences

The most noticeable difference between mold and mildew are in what the human eye can pick up – appearances.

Mold can range in colour from black or white to yellow, green, and even pink.

Mildew appears in more earthy colours like brown and yellow, but can also appear white, grey, or black.

Texture-wise, mold tends to look slimy or fuzzy, while mildew appears to be powdery.

[caption id="attachment_3328" align="alignright" width="350"]

Mildew looks powdery

Mold looks fuzzy

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Mold looks fuzzy

Mildew looks powdery

Powdery mildew is usually found on the leaves of growing plants, making it look as if the plant is “sick.” Severe mold growths look like moss or plant-like and can eat away at the cellular integrity of its host.

Mold and mildew follow different growth patterns, which can also help you differentiate between the two. Mold will burrow under the surface of its host if possible, while mildew grows flat on the surface it has decided to colonize on/in.

While mildew exposure is known to cause sore throats in some individuals, mold can cause allergic reactions, joint pain, neurological issues, and complicate heart health.

Mold vs Mildew

Found Mold or Mildew in your Home? Here's What to Do

Most importantly, you need to understand the dangers of extended mold and mildew exposure. Serious health issues like asthma can be triggered by contact or exposure to these types of fungus.

Since both mold and mildew can spread when their spores get shifted, causing them to go airborne, homeowners should always consider hiring professionals to handle their mold or mildew remediation projects.

With that said, common outbreaks of mildew are much less serious than mold spores and can often be taken care of using household products that you likely already have at home.

Bleach is the best way to ensure you take care of the entire mildew colony. Use a half cup of bleach per litre of water and wipe the surface thoroughly with the substance.

To prevent future mold and mildew growth, try to keep areas that are typically damp (like the bathroom or kitchen) dry by running a dehumidifier or allowing air to circulate through the room.

More frequent cleaning and sanitation in these areas will also help to prevent spores from finding a suitable place to grow.

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