Mildew vs. Mold - Know the Difference

Molds and mildews grow differently on different surfaces, depending on the type of mold or mildew, what kind of surface it is growing on, and environmental conditions. Mold and mildew are fungi that can grow in the home. While both molds and mildews can cause health problems, it is important to know the difference between them. These fungi are potentially harmful if they are growing inside your house or anywhere else and play a role in causing health issues like allergies, asthma, hay fever, or any respiratory problems. 

Let us understand more about these fungi and what is the difference between mildew and mold

Molds

Molds are a type of fungi that you will normally find in places with moisture and oxygen. Such places with high amounts of oxygen and moisture would be damp places like soil, dead decaying matter like leaves and trees, and other debris. However, indoor mold growth should be avoided as much as possible. These spores can easily spread throughout the house if not taken care of. Some mold colonies are black, white, yellow, green, or gray, usually fuzzy-looking. 

Molds like Stachybotrys (black molds) reproduce by releasing millions of spores into the air and can cause dangerous infections to your respiratory system. It has been linked with nasal blockage, ear infections, and asthma.

Molds can also grow on :

  • Wood 
  • Carpet 
  • Food 
  • Textiles 
  • Paper items 
  • Fruits and vegetables.

Things You Should Know about Molds

There are a few things you should know about molds that will help you understand why they should be cleared off immediately if found:

  • Health problems that could happen due to molds are allergic reactions, asthma, hay fever, and respiratory problems.
  • They can cause infections to your eyes, nose, throat, and lungs.
  • Molds thrive on moisture and produce allergens that spread into the air that should be avoided at all costs. 
  • Some molds might even produce mycotoxins which are very harmful to humans. This is why mold growth should be taken seriously and should be dealt with as soon as possible.
  • Molds cannot survive in dry places or areas that have low levels of moisture.

How to Prevent Molds?

  • Keep your house dry and clean. Get rid of excess humidity in the house and find out where it is coming from? Fix these issues to keep molds at bay. You can visit our article on House Cleaning Tips for more idea on this.
  • Fix any leaks that can cause excess moisture in your homes, like window leaks, pipe leakage, and roof leakage. 
  • Clean your HVAC system regularly – mold can grow on the evaporator coil, drain pan, cooling coils, and discharge grill. 
  • Use dehumidifiers or air conditioners to remove excess moisture in your house.
  • Do not cover the windows – let sunlight come through and dry up any damp spots in your room. 
  • Replace anything wet with mold on them like insulation board, ceiling tiles, padding, and fibers.
  • Fix all plumbing leaks immediately to stop water from seeping in if there is a leak in your home.
  • Fix any cracks on the walls, floors, or ceiling that can let moisture in. Also read our blog on how to repair drywalls to help you with this problem.
  • Use a hygrometer – this will tell you when humidity levels are too high inside your home and when to take action.
  • Molds can grow in any color, but the most common forms of molds are black, green, blue/grey, white, or pink. You should be able to see them growing or notice a musty smell in your home that indicates mold may be present somewhere in your house. 

Also See: Getting Rid of Molds in your Bathroom

Mildew

Mildew is basically mold growth; it is referred to particular types of fungus. Mildews usually occurs on damp clothes, leather goods, in bathrooms, and places like window sills. Mildews grow in places that have more moisture and less airflow. 

Molds like Cladosporium, Alternaria, Epicoccum, Penicillium, Aspergillus, or Fusarium can cause mildews to grow on your clothes. Mildew is very common, especially in bathrooms that have poor ventilation and too much moisture present around the shower or bathtub. Mildews use food for reproducing, and they like to grow on damp clothing and fabrics that do not dry off completely.

Mildews look like a grayish, greenish, or white color with a dusty appearance – it is usually fuzzy looking. 

See Also: How to Clean a Bathtub

Prevention of mildews

  • Use fans in your bathrooms if there is no window. Turn the fan on as soon as you get out of the shower or bathtub. 
  • Open your windows if possible to let moisture escape and sunlight come in.
  • Use dehumidifiers in bathrooms that do not have an exhaust fan.
  • Keep the bathroom floor dry – placemats on the floor where you step out of the tub or shower.
  • Avoid leaving your wet clothes outside to dry; hang them up inside your bathroom if possible.
  • Clean and disinfect any mildew you see on your clothes.
  • Wash all towels often in hot water to prevent mildews from forming.
  • Remove mildews as soon as you see it growing on your clothes or fabrics – throwing a little salt can help kill the spores.
  • Take care of your clothes properly to avoid mildews. Follow the instructions on clothes labels and wash clothes as soon as you can.

Molds and mildews are common problems in homes during certain seasons of the year – usually, fall and spring when there is high humidity indoors. They reproduce very quickly and spread spores which cause allergies to people who have sensitivities or asthma. Molds and mildews are very hazardous to health, so you should get rid of them immediately.

You can use bleach to clean molds or mildew, but you can also use other household items to kill the spores – baking soda, vinegar, tea tree oil, and hydrogen peroxide. If you need more help in getting rid of molds and mildews, call an environmental service company to evaluate your home. They can give you advice on how to prevent molds and mildews from growing inside your house.

See Also: Common Household Problem to fix before you Move in | Monthly Home Maintenance Tips | How to Get Rid of Mildew Smell

Conclusion

If you find any sort of mold or mildew on your clothes, in your house, or anywhere else, make sure you disinfect it properly and clean the area thoroughly. If you have asthma, allergies, or any type of respiratory problems that can be triggered by mold or mildew spores, it is best to rid your home of these contaminants immediately. These types of fungi are not only harmful, but they look unpleasant in your house. They can cause you to feel unwell and lower your immunity. Act on it immediately, clean whatever is affected with bleach or any household products for that matter, and disinfect your house as soon as possible.

FAQ

What is the difference between mildew and molds? 

Mildews grow in places with more moisture and less airflow, while molds can be found everywhere, but they prefer moist areas. Mildews usually occurs on damp clothes, leather goods, in bathrooms, and places like window sills. Molds can grow anywhere depending on the type of mold, which varies from Cladosporium, Alternaria, Epicoccum, Penicillium, Aspergillus, or Fusarium. Cladosporium, for example, is very common in humid places like bathrooms and window sills.

Who can get rid of molds and mildews? 

You should call an environmental service company to clean your house for you or to tell you how to do it yourself. If the infestation is relatively small, you could also use household products to clean the area, open windows for ventilation, and prevent mold growth by keeping places dry. There are also certain cleaning products available in supermarkets that can be used.

When should you get rid of molds and mildews? 

You also need to get rid of molds and mildews if you consider them a health hazard – mainly when they are found in bathrooms, laundry rooms, basements, attics, walls, windowsills, etc. If left untreated for a long time, these fungi will grow and damage the material they are growing on – so get rid of them as soon as you can! You should call an environmental service company immediately if you have asthma or allergies – even very low concentrations of mold spores can trigger allergies in people who have sensitivities or asthma.

What should you do to get rid of molds and mildews? 

It would be best if you disinfect the affected areas immediately. Use household products like baking soda, vinegar, tea tree oil, hydrogen peroxide, or chlorine bleach to kill off mold spores. If your mold problem is more difficult to solve, you should call an environmental service company for help. They can remove mold infestations from your house efficiently and clean the area for you.

What are the benefits of getting rid of molds and mildews? 

Mildews are known carriers of dangerous human pathogens, so they will increase your chances of catching an infectious disease. Please get rid of them as soon as you can! Molds can trigger allergies that can lower your immunity to respiratory diseases, asthma, bronchitis, etc. 

How to get rid of molds and mildews? 

It would be best always to use rubber gloves, face masks, goggles when working with these fungi. You can make a mold-killing solution by using household products like baking soda, vinegar, tea tree oil, hydrogen peroxide, or chlorine bleach. If your mold problem is more difficult to solve, you should call an environmental service company for help. They can remove mold infestations from your house efficiently and clean the area for you.

Also Read: Red Flags to look for before renting a house | How to Caulk a Bathtub

Written by


Rostislav Shetman is the founder of 9Kilo Moving. He has been in the moving and relocation industry for more than 25 years, making him an expert in his field. Rostislav started as a helper, dispatcher and driver and has worked his way up to owning his own company. He takes great pride in his work and enjoys helping people relocate across the United States of America. When he's not working, Rostislav enjoys spending time with his family and friends. They are the light of his life and bring him happiness every day.