When it comes to home repairs, few things are worse than mold. Mold and mildew, a specific type of mold, are similar in many ways. They smell bad, look ugly and can create long-term damage to a home. If a homeowner comes across mold or mildew, they should take immediate action to clean it and prevent it from spreading.
But, how do you tell if it’s mold vs mildew? In this article, we hope to explain the differences between the two fungi, how to prevent them and how to remove them when they’re found.

What Is The Difference Between Mildew And Mold?

There are several differences between mildew and mold. These differences can help a homeowner better identify and treat whichever fungus is causing problems in their home. Here are some of the differences between mildew and mold.

Looks of Mold vs Mildew

Visual appearance is a key difference between mold and mildew. Mildew comes in two forms. Powdery mildew and downy mildew. Powdery mildew looks exactly as the name suggests. It’s a powdery substance that rests on top of a given object. Downy mildew will look like a stain that’s usually yellow in color. Unlike mold, mildew grows in a flat pattern making it easier to predict which direction it will grow. Mold comes in one of two forms. Mold looks either fuzzy or slimy. It comes in a variety of colors including blue, green, yellow, brown, gray, black and white. Most often mold is green or black. Mold will attach to anything that it touches and spreads from place to place making it difficult to remove.

Problems Caused by Mildew and Mold

Mildew usually damages plants and crops, but it can still cause damage to wood, fabric and other materials. Many people mistake the health problems caused by mold or mildew exposure to be seasonal allergic reactions. Mildew causes breathing complications and headaches like mold but it’s usually the smell that bothers people the most. Some people have specific allergic reactions to mold and may experience more drastic health problems than others. Mold can cause a variety of problems depending on the strain of mold. Health problems like respiratory diseases, allergies, headaches, joint pain, and fatigue, are common when mold is present in a house. Mold can also compromise the integrity of a structure because of how it spreads. Since mold does not grow in a flat pattern like mildew, it will grow in all directions in, around and through most objects at the same time. Mold’s fast growing nature makes it more damaging than mildew.

What Causes Mildew And Mold?

Both mildew and mold require the right conditions to grow. So what are those conditions? Mildew and mold thrive in moist, humid areas that receive little sunlight. It also helps if there is little air circulation as moving air keeps mold spores from settling on anything. So any place that is not properly ventilated, exposed to moisture, dark or prone to leaks is highly susceptible to mildew and mold.

How To Prevent Mildew And Mold?

Knowing what causes mildew and mold to grow can help a homeowner prevent it from growingin the first place. Look for any and all places in the house where mold or mildew are likely to grow. Bathrooms, basements, attics, and crawlspaces are all common areas where mildew and mold appear because these areas are usually warm, see a lot of moisture, get a little sunlight and little circulation. Preventing mold in these areas is a matter of finding the sources for these conditions and combating them as much as possible. Adding fans or ventilation to an airtight area will help prevent spores from landing there. Making sure there are no leaks creating a moist, humid environment will prevent a space from becoming an ideal growing environment. A homeowner should look at spaces that are ideal for mildew and mold and ask themselves, “How can I make this place worse for fungus?” Mold removal is always more difficult than preventing it in the first place.

How To Remove Mildew And Mold?

Mold removal and mildew removal take similar steps. First, turn off the air conditioning or heater and seal off the vents in the area with mold. Second, put on a respirator and turn on a small fan to create circulation. Third, use either bleach water solution or another cleaning product meant for fungus and scrub the affected area. Make sure to scrub beyond the affected area to get any spores that have spread but haven’t grown to the point of visibility. It’s important to wear gloves and clothes that you can throw away. Spores are likely to have landed on your clothes and keeping them will just spread the spores farther. If you need larger-scale removal, you may need to hire a professional to help with mildew and mold remediation. To get the best service at the best price, make sure to do your research on the local mold remediation and restoration experts in your area.


When it comes to these fungi it’s helpful to know how to tell the difference between mold and mildew. However, it isn’t exactly a matter of mold vs. mildew, since both mildew and mold can create a variety of problems from health issues, like respiratory problems, to structural damage to unpleasant smells. In order to avoid these problems, one must know how to recognize what causes mildew and mold, what they can do to prevent fungi from setting in and what to do if prevention methods fail. Mildew and mold are preventable but if they appear in spite of your best efforts, they can still be removed before excessive damage happens.

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