The Difference Between Mold Vs. Mildew

No one wants harmful bacteria growing in their home. But what most people don’t know is that mold and mildew are very different. One is much more harmful and aggressive while the other is just annoying.

mildew vs mold

If you want to protect your family, then learn to spot the difference between them and get rid of each of them in the safest way possible. Here is what you need to know about both mold and mildew and how to spot the difference

What Is Mold?

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Mold is a type of fungi that grows in multicellular structures called hyphae. These hyphae create spores that infiltrate your home. But mold spores are always present, they just aren’t harmful unless mold grows.

Mold grows when the spores find moisture to plant themselves in. When they do, the mold can grow rapidly. Since there are thousands of different types of mold, it can be hard to find out what type of mold you have.

That’s why it’s a good idea to get rid of any mold that you find on your property. Though it isn’t as damaging to your structure as termites, it can eat away at it. Not to mention, it can do a lot of damage to those with mold allergies. 

What Is Mildew?

Mildew is also a fungus just like mold, but it is not nearly as dangerous. Sometimes, mildew is considered a common household mold but it isn’t similar to black mold that people are most afraid of.

Mildew grows through spores that find moisture just like mold. So luckily, preventing mold is the same as preventing mildew and vice-versa. It is often found in places like dirty clothes baskets that set for too long. 

Mildew Characteristics

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Mildew is often confused with mold though it is much less harmful. But knowing that mildew is less harmful isn’t that useful unless you know how to spot the difference between mold and mildew. Here are some things to know about mildew. 

Mildew Is Dry

Mildew can be spotted as a dry and powdery substance growing on surfaces. It has a texture similar to peach fuzz or mushroom spores. You can see it growing thickly or thinly but it is always a bit dryer than you would imagine. 

Mildew Is Light In Color

Mildew is usually grey, white, or light green. Though the materials underneath mildew can be dark, if you look closely, you’ll notice that the actual fuzzy part of the mildew is a light color, usually white.

Mildew Is On The Surface

Mildew always grows on the surface. It doesn’t go deep. You can find it as a carpet of sorts on hard surfaces and an extra layer on soft surfaces. It is easy to see up close if the mildew really is mildew or something stronger. 

Mildew Washes Off

Mildew washes off easily. You can use a household cleaner, natural cleaner, or even bleach to scrub it away. This is because it does grow on the surface so it washes off like any other surface bacteria you find.

Mold Characteristics 

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Mold is similar to mildew in appearance but much more dangerous. You may think you can recognize mold but unless it has these characteristics then it might be mildew or a very mild mold that has just started to grow.

Mold Is Slimy

Mold is slimy. While mildew is soft and fuzzy, or powdery, mold is slick and slimy. If you find a substance that looks like mildew but it is slick and maybe a little wet, then there’s a good chance it is a strong mold.

Mold Comes In Many Colors

While mildew usually comes in a set amount of colors, mold comes in a rainbow of colors. It can be anywhere from black to yellow to red. There is hardly a color that there isn’t a species of mold that is that color.

Mold Grows Deep

Mildew grows on the surface but mold grows deep into surfaces. So if the “mildew” doesn’t” wash off fairly easily then that’s because it is probably mold. So you can try to remove the surface mold but it will need a deep cleaning to salvage the material. 

Mold Is Difficult To Remove

Mold is not easy to get rid of. No matter if you are dealing with mold or mildew, until you are sure, wear a mask and cover your skin. Keep yourself protected until you get rid of the mold completely.

Signs Of Mold

Spotting the signs of mold that aren’t associated with their visual presence can be difficult. Because those who haven’t dealt with mold often can have trouble spotting the symptoms. So check out these telltale signs. 

The Smell

Both mold and mildew smell similar but mold has a much stronger smell. They smell damp, musty, and a little rotten. The smell is from the microbial volatile organic compounds that the mold produces. 

If the smell is coming from your HVAC system then there’s a good chance that there is mold growing inside of it. So have them checked regularly to ensure that there aren’t any harmful bacteria building up. 

The Health Problems

Are you experiencing unexpected health problems? If these problems are associated with your respiratory system or your nasal passageway then there is a chance that you have mold growing in your house.

These signs include but are not limited to itchy eyes, sneezing, and trouble breathing. Make sure you check out a full list of symptoms before attempting to self-diagnose and always see a doctor if you have breathing problems. 

Peeling Walls

Although this is a visual sign it isn’t often associated with mold. But the truth is that where there is bubbling and cracking, there is moisture. Where there is moisture, mold can grow and in walls, there is a likely candidate. 

If the wall is also discolored at the spot then there’s hardly a doubt. There is mold under the surface. It’s a good idea to have a professional remove the wall covering but if you are experienced you can do it yourself. 

You Recently Experienced Flooding

If you have a leaky pipe or have had overflowing sinks or toilets recently, there’s a good chance that mold is growing somewhere. So if this is coupled with one of the other symptoms then the mold is probably present.

Because if moisture is building up somewhere then mold will be attracted to that area. If you have water damage starting anywhere try to get it taken care of as soon as possible to prevent this from happening. 

How To Prevent Mold

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While getting rid of mold can be difficult, preventing mold isn’t. You only need to do a few things to ensure that you don’t have to deal with mold anymore in the future. Take these precautions to prevent mold from growing in your home.

Don’t Let Water Sit

This may seem obvious but it’s important not to let wet towels sit on the floor, or laundry baskets go too long without the laundry being washed. And if someone spills, clean it up immediately and dry it as well.

Also, if there happens to be any flooding, make sure an expert checks out the area before you move on with life. Because flooding is one of the leading causes of unexpected mold that grows over large areas. 

Let Everything Breathe

Again, laundry baskets can grow mold but they probably won’t if you make sure that it is a proper basket or hamper that can breathe. Because moisture builds up in closed-in areas so keeping things dry is a great step.

Also, if you have a bathroom window, leave it open when you can. If you don’t then leave the bathroom door open to allow the moisture to escape and to let air in to dry the bathroom out where moisture is present.

Don’t Allow Leaks

Okay, so this may seem impossible but you can try to stay up-to-date with your plumbing to ensure that leaks are kept to a minimum. If you notice that pipes are moist on the outside or water pressure is low, then a leak may be on its way. 

Expedite Repairs 

Don’t let repairs go undone. Have someone get to them as soon as possible. Even if it doesn’t seem like something harmful, it could create a domino effect that you didn’t anticipate that can cause chaos in your home.

If you can’t afford repairs, talk to the companies and they may offer some sort of financial support. Also, ask around and maybe you can find friends that know what they are doing in the niche you are struggling with. 

Get A Dehumidifier 

Getting a dehumidifier can be a great way to prevent moisture in your home. Although humidifiers are often preferred in dry climates, they can be a hotbed for mold themselves and allow more mold to grow. 

Learn all you can about humidifiers and dehumidifiers before making your decisions and ensure that your info isn’t from a manufacturer who will promote their products. Remember, safety is the priority!