What is the Difference Between Mold and Mildew?

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Can You Tell What is Growing in Your Home?

Many people believe that the words ‘mold’ and ‘mildew’ are interchangeable, but there are distinct differences between these kinds of fungal growth. It’s easy to differentiate between the two when you know what to looking for, which speeds up the identification of the problem and, crucially, the removal process.

Mildew mostly appears as a white or grey growth, which can darken to brown or yellow over time. It tends to be powdery or downy in appearance, and grows in a flat pattern over plant leaves, book pages, wallpaper, and organic fabrics. Normally, mildew growth is quite thin – at first glance, the affected area might look like it is covered in dust or talcum powder. Mildew can grow in a variety of patterns, but most commonly appears as small, scattered blotches that develop in size and color density as the problem progresses. One of the strongest indicators of mildew is the smell – an unmistakable musty odor that permeates the affected area. Although mildew can be hugely damaging to plants, it generally poses little risk to humans.

Mold, on the other hand, differs hugely in its color, growth patterns, and density. The color of mold ranges widely, and can be red, green, blue, grey or black depending on the fungal family. Most molds look fuzzy, or even hairy, but certain species have a slimy, gelatinous appearance. Mold also grows far thicker than mildew, and tends to appear in dense, roughly circular patterns that rapidly darken and spread as the fungus takes hold. Nearly all kinds of mold can only grow where a water source is present, which is why it’s commonly found in showers, underneath kitchen sinks, behind bathroom base boards, on walls and ceilings that have been exposed to a lot of water, and in places with leaky piping. Unlike mildew, mold presents severe health risks to humans.

Pro Tip: If mold or mildew is growing on food, throw it away in a trash can outside of home.  If it is growing on the walls or other building materials, stop the cause of the moisture.  See How to Remove Mold

In order to prevent the onset of mold and mildew in your home by keeping your living environment moisture free and clean. There are many mold and mildew removers available on the market, but it is best to seek professional advice when dealing with a mold problem of any scale due to the potential risks involved with removal.

See Signs and Symptoms of Mold That May Put You at Risk

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