Mold vs Mildew: Understanding the Difference

People often use the terms “mildew” and “mold” interchangeably, which makes understanding the difference between the two even more difficult for concerned homeowners. However, this brief breakdown will help you tell them apart and tell you more about how to manage them.

How Do You Tell the Difference?

It’s important to start with one fact: mildew is one of many types of molds that can be found in the home. Molds come in a wide variety of textures, colors, and growth patterns, but there are some traits that set mildew apart from the others types of mold. You can typically identify mildew based on these characteristics:

  • A dull white or gray color
  • A powdery but flat appearance
  • A musty smell like that of dirty laundry

You cannot rule out the presence of mildew without testing, but these traits suggest a different kind of mold growth:

  • A dark green, black, or yellow color
  • A puffy, highly textured, or slimy appearance
  • A splotchy growth pattern

Which Is More Dangerous?

Since mildew is a type of mold, prolonged exposure to it can still affect family members who struggle with respiratory issues or skin conditions. The cause for concern from mildew and any other mold type are the spores that the fungi releases, which tend to cause lung or skin irritation. Other types of mold, such as Stachybotrys chartarum —commonly referred to as black mold—can be even more problematic for young family members. Black mold can cause coughing, eye and throat irritation, and other allergy-like symptoms. That said, neither mildew nor any other kinds of mold are something to truly panic about in most situations.

How To Remove Mold and Mildew

Part of the reason why other kinds of mold are often more concerning than mildew is that mildew remains on the exposed surface as opposed to working its way into and under wallpaper, tile, and other surfaces. Mold can hide and continue to grow in moist environments, becoming more difficult to remove and often requiring the help of removal specialists to entirely kill and remove the growth. Mildew, on the other hand, can usually be scrubbed off walls and surfaces with cleaning products and some elbow grease. Homeowners may still prefer to use masks, gloves, and other protective gear when working with chemicals or irritating fungi. Opening windows to keep the room well-ventilated will make the removal process safer. However, you can prevent mildew and other kinds of molds by keeping trouble areas such as sinks and windows as dry as possible.

The peninsula’s humid climate is perfect for mold growth, so don’t fret if you start to see a few dots of mold collecting on your windowsill. Whether you believe it’s mildew or another kind of mold, our team at Mold Only is happy to help you understand the difference between mold and mildew in your home and to provide mold remediation in Broward County and much of southern Florida.

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