10 Difference Between Mold And Mildew

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What is Mold?

Mold is a fungus that grows from microscopic spores floating in the air. Mold growth reveals itself in the form of irregular patches of green, black, brown, orange, pink, purple, or other colors. It often appears fuzzy and is typically accompanied by a musty smell. While Mildew grows on top of flat surfaces, mold penetrates the surface and grows into a porous material, eventually breaking it down and causing lasting damage.

Mold can grow on just about any organic surface where moisture and oxygen are present, including wood, carpets, paper, furniture, plants, and insulation. Because it grows best in damp environments, mold is commonly found in bathrooms, basements, kitchens, and crawl spaces. It also often grows near leaks in roofs and windows or behind appliances where water has collected.

Common types of mold found indoors:

  • AspergillusThis is an allergenic mold with more than 185 species that’s often found on walls where it forms thick layers.
  • PenicilliumThis allergenic mold has a velvety texture and is bluish-green in color. Areas with water damage, mattresses, and wallpaper are its most popular host sites.
  • StachybotrysOtherwise known as toxic black mold, this variety is slimy in texture, black or dark green, and found in damp areas left too humid for weeks or months at a time.
  • AureobasidiumThis type appears pink, brown, or black, darkens as it ages, and is found on wooden surfaces.
  • CladosporiumCommonly found in carpets, this allergenic mold is olive green and suede-like.

What You Need To Know About Mold

  • Mold is a type of fungus, green or black in appearance and with a fuzzy or slimy texture.
  • Mold grows underneath the surface of anything that has got wet or moist, ideally can be seen on perished food items.
  • Mold appears as irregularly shaped spots that can have different colors – blue, green, etc.
  • Mold may be used in food production, example, penicillium is utilized for cheese making.
  • Mold can be prevented by keeping all areas in home dry and free of moisture, not keeping perishable foods for too long. 
  • The smell of mold is that of a pungent rotting wood or paper, accompanied with release of harmful toxins.
  • Mold penetrates the surface and grows into a porous material, eventually breaking it down and causing lasting damage. 
  • Mold can cause minor to severe health issues, depending on the species, length of exposure, and whether or not the individual has any pre-existing conditions, such as allergies or asthma.

What is Mildew?

Mildew is a common gray and white fungus that’s often powdery in appearance. As a microscopic fungus it travels through the air in the form of tiny spores. When these spores land in damp or humid environments, mildew begins to colonize and grow.

Mildew is generally classified as either powdery or downy. Powdery mildew is white or gray in color. Over time, it turns yellow and eventually dark brown or black. As the name suggests, it has a fine, powdery texture. Downy mildew initially shows up in the form of yellow splotches. As it ages, these splotches turn a darkish brown.

Since mildew grows on surfaces, it’s often easier to spot in its early stages than mold. In homes, mildew will grow on damp materials like paper, leather and fabrics in addition to walls and other wet surfaces. Mildew is most commonly found in bathrooms, kitchens and basements. It usually gives off a musty smell that indicates an infestation is nearby. Mildew is a surface fungus that can be easily removed with a store-bought-cleaner or bleach and a scrubbing brush.

Common types of mildew found indoors:

  • Basidiospores—This variety is associated with dry rotted wood. These mildew spores eventually become mushrooms and can cause severe allergic reactions.
  • AureobasidiumGenerally described as “bathroom mold,” this mildew is found in showers and bathtubs.
  • BotrytisOften found in humid greenhouses, this type of mildew is found on indoor plants and can trigger asthma symptoms.
  • RhizopusDangerous to those with existing health conditions or nutritional deficiencies, this toxic mildew grows on garbage, house dirt, and food.

What You Need To Know About Mildew

  • Mildew is a specific type of mold usually in white, gray or yellow color and with a fluffy or powdery texture.
  • Mildew thrives on moist or damp surfaces such as bathrooms, walls, ceilings, damp surfaces, paper, fabrics.
  • Mildew will usually appear growing in a flat pattern.
  • Mildew may not be used for any food related purpose.
  • For preventing mildew, one can use mildew removers, using mildew-resistant seeds, and fungicides.  
  • Mildew has a stale, or damp smell.
  • Mildew grows on top of flat surfaces. It doesn’t penetrate surfaces and grow into the materials it lands on (though it can still cause cosmetic damage).
  • Mildew can cause health problems with prolonged exposure. While the fungi themselves are not toxic, certain species produce mycotoxins, which can cause mild to severe symptoms in humans. 

Difference Between Mold And Mildew In Tabular Form

BASIS OF COMPARISON MOLD MILDEW
Description Mold is a type of fungus, green or black in appearance and with a fuzzy or slimy texture.   Mildew is a specific type of mold usually in white, gray or yellow color and with a fluffy or powdery texture.  
Growth Mold grows underneath the surface of anything that has got wet or moist, ideally can be seen on perished food items.   Mildew thrives on moist or damp surfaces such as bathrooms, walls, ceilings, damp surfaces, paper, fabrics.  
Appearance Mold appears as irregularly shaped spots that can have different colors – blue, green, etc.   Mildew will usually appear growing in a flat pattern.  
Use Mold may be used in food production, example, penicillium is utilized for cheese making.   Mildew may not be used for any food related purpose.  
Prevention Mold can be prevented by keeping all areas in home dry and free of moisture, not keeping perishable foods for too long.    For preventing mildew, one can use mildew removers, using mildew-resistant seeds, and fungicides.    
Smell The smell of mold is that of a pungent rotting wood or paper, accompanied with release of harmful toxins.   Mildew has a stale, or damp smell.  
Penetration Into Objects Mold penetrates the surface and grows into a porous material, eventually breaking it down and causing lasting damage.    Mildew grows on top of flat surfaces. It doesn’t penetrate surfaces and grow into the materials it lands on (though it can still cause cosmetic damage).  
Health Concerns Mold can cause minor to severe health issues, depending on the species, length of exposure etc Mildew can cause health problems with prolonged exposure.

How To Prevent Mold And Mildew

  • Keep bathrooms well-ventilated—Use an exhaust fan while showering to circulate air and remove moisture. Spread towels after use to encourage drying, wipe down showers and bathtubs at least once a week, and shore up any leaks. Be sure to keep up with routine maintenance with a septic warranty or sewer line warranty. 
  • Use dehumidifiers, fans, and open windows—These can encourage moisture reduction in other rooms. Moisture meters can detect the presence of moisture in ceilings, floors, and walls.
  • Keep an eye on your HVAC unit—If you have leaky air conditioning duct joints, especially in the attic, seal them with a mastic-type sealant.
  • Regular cleaning—Clean windows often to prevent moisture, dust, and debris from collecting. You should also consider deep cleaning your entire home at least twice a year.
  • Avoid bringing outdoor furniture indoors—Outdoor furniture brought inside is a hot spot for fungus, as is firewood.
  • Keep mold off household plants—Moist soil and leaves are an ideal breeding ground for mold. Try adding Taheebo tea to the water you give your indoor plants, as this tree oil helps them withstand fungi.
  • Regular Checks of Housing Infrastructure—These include separating roof shingles, cracked or loose door and window frames, cracked chimney masonry, and deteriorating sundeck flashing, all inroads for mold. Clean gutters regularly and ensure downspouts carry water away from the foundation. You should also ensure that your roof is in top condition with a roof home warranty.

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