Mildew vs Mold: Do You Know The Difference?

With mildew vs mold, you need to know how to tell the difference between them. When you find mold, get rid of it. Both mold and mildew are often found indoors. Although one is more harmful than the other, removing microscopic fungi from shower walls and your laundry room, for example, is not hard.

mildew vs mold

Mold and mildew are commonly found on indoor surfaces. Both can cause serious health problems, allergic reactions, and other health issues along with structural damage your home.

If you want to protect your family from mold exposure, then you need to identify mold or mildew before either spread. After you identify either one, you can remove them the proper way. Before we get into mildew and mold removal, let’s look at how they’re different.

Mold Vs Mildew Comparisons

How to prevent mold

When you understand the difference between mold vs mildew, you’ll know how to handle either of them. It might be confusing to those who do not know how to treat mold, but that’s why we’re here. 

Mold vs mildew analysis is easier when you know the basics of each one.

What Is Mold?

What Is Mold?

Mold is a type of fungi that grows in multicellular structures known as hyphae. Hyphae is the most common type of mold and is a surface fungus that creates mold spores that infiltrate your home. Toxic black mold, also known as Stachybotrys chartarum, is found on damp surfaces. Mold spores are always present, they just aren’t harmful during the early stages of their growth.  

The fungus found on damp surfaces is Stachybotrys chartarum and found in high moisture environments. This is the most common mold found indoors.

When mold starts to grow on permanent structures, it grows fast. If you don’t get rid of it, structural damage will occur. Since there are thousands of mold types. It can be hard to determine which type of mold you have.

Although it isn’t as damaging to your structure like mold vs termites, it can destroy your home if you don’t get rid of it. It’s also harmful to those suffering from mold allergies and respiratory problems.

What Is Mildew?

What Is Mildew

Just like mold, mildew spreads fast. Mold and mildew both thrive in moist environments. Mildew is also a fungus found on damp surfaces just like mold, but not 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 spores are attracted to moisture environments just like mold. Preventing mold is the same as preventing mildew and vice-versa. It is often found in places like dirty clothes baskets and crawl spaces. 

Many Similarities Of Mold Vs Mildew 

Mildew Characteristics

Mildew is often confused with mold though it is much less harmful. It won’t cause respiratory issues, butt has other health effects. If you can tell the difference between mildew and mold your home will be safer.

But knowing that mildew is less harmful isn’t 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 is a dry and powdery substance that grows on surfaces.It will start growing small and has a texture similar to peach fuzz or mushroom spores. You can see it growing and is drier than mold commonly found indoors.

Mildew Has A Light Color

To the naked eye, mildew spores are 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 Grows On Surfaces

Mildew is commonly found on indoor surfaces. It doesn’t penetrate 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. 

Organic Material

You can use organic material to remove mildew. A few drops of household cleaner, natural cleaner, or even bleach will help scrub it away. Mildew if found in areas with high moisture levels, but washes off like other surface bacteria.

Mold Vs Mildew Characteristics 

Mold Characteristics 

Black mold, for example, is similar to mildew in appearance but has more health risks and can cause health problems and allergic reactions. You may think you can recognize mold but unless it has these characteristics then it might be mold and mildew that has just started to grow due to water damage.

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

Black mold is the most common mold. While mildew comes in a set amount of colors, mold comes in a rainbow of colors including black, yellow and red. 

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. 

Clean Mold

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. 

DIY Mold Removal

Mold removal isn’t hard. There are DIY methods you can apply that removes mold easily.

Here are a few household items that you can use:

Hydrogen Peroxide

You can use common household items to remove mold. Most homes have a bottle of hydrogen peroxide. All you do is mix hydrogen peroxide and with warm water and apply it to the affected area. Rub the mixture with a soft bristle brush over the mold and this should wipe it out.

Bleach And Water Solution

This one is also simple. Combine bleach and water in a spray bottle and target the affected area. Scrub gently over the mold and this should wipe it out.

Signs Of Mold Vs Mildew

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. 

Musty 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. 

Health Issues

If you’re experiencing health problems and have difficulty breathing or a runny nose, it could be because of mold growth in your home. 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.

Health effects include itchy eyes, runny nose, and respiratory problems. Make sure you check out a full list of symptoms before you self-diagnose and 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.

Recent Flooding

If you have a leaky pipe or have had overflowing sinks or toilets, there’s a good chance you have a mold problem. So, if this is coupled with one of the other symptoms then the mold is 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 Vs Mildew

How to prevent mold

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.

Remove Standing Water

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, flooding can lead to mold, so make sure an expert checks the area. 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. 


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. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

How Do I Identify Black Mold Vs Mildew?

Black mold is one of the most harmful types of mold. Mildew is much less harmful than most molds. The biggest difference you may notice between them is that mold will be fuzzier and darker.

Is There A Difference In Mold Vs Mildew Remover?

There is a difference between mold vs mildew remover. Mold remover must be stronger while mildew can sometimes be removed with a simple cleaner or vinegar. Mold needs a special cleaner and sometimes requires a professional.

What Kills Mold And Mildew Both?

One of the only over-the-counter substances that clean both mold and mildew is bleach. Bleach can kill almost anything you find in your home. So use it with caution and always test in small amounts first.

Does Mold Vs Mildew Exposure Create Different Symptoms?

Yes. Mildew symptoms are almost always mild. They are similar to mild cold symptoms. But it doesn’t usually cause any symptoms at all. Mold symptoms can be similar but are always more severe and include lung issues as well.

Mildew vs Mold Conclusion

Mold is bad for your health no matter how much you have in your home. It can start growing in one small area, but then will grow quickly to other areas. Mold can lead to heart problems and cause respiratory issues. If left untreated, certain kinds of fungi will cause structural damage to your home. 

On the other hand, mildew is found in small damp areas like crawl spaces and other moist environments. Mildew spores may not cause the same damage, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be taken seriously. Mildew can also spread easily if left untreated.

The easiest way to combat a mold problem is to make sure you don’t have moist environments. A moist area provides the right conditions to attract mold and mildew. Do not wait to remove mold as the health risks are severe and can even cause memory loss.  The last thing you want is permanent damage to your home. Moisture management problems are not hard to resolve, but it does require effort.