Mold vs. Mildew: Mold Testing Experts Explain the Difference

Mold vs. Mildew: Mold Testing Experts Explain the Difference

There is so much confusion about the distinction between mold and mildew, which is understandable because of how similar these are. There is a good reason for this. As it turns out, mildew is just a specific type of mold.

Mold and mildew are both fungi that grow in wet settings and are often found in the household, particularly in damp places prone to water damage.

Even if you do not presently have mold growing in your house, you may have such places in your home that are at risk for mold growth.

A mold inspection may assist in the detection of leaks and other sources of moisture in your house. Resolving these problems might help you avoid mold and other problems that may prove costly in the future.


Significant Differences Between Mold and Mildew

Mildew and mold can be distinguished from each other by the way they look and grow. Mold is green or black and develops under any damp surface, while mildew is white or yellow and expands on the surface.

However, this is not the sole distinction between them. Let's look at some of the critical mold and mildew differences.

Both mold and mildew must be dealt with quickly and efficiently when discovered, since they may cause a great deal of damage over time.

Mildew: it is often seen on crops and sometimes on plants too. However, if it grows inside, it may potentially cause health problems. When mildew spores are breathed in, they induce sore throats, headaches, and respiratory difficulties.

Mold: it may cause significant structural damage if left neglected. It will also release mold spores into the air as is grows, affected indoor air quality. Prolonged mold exposure may result in health issues that can be life-threatening, including allergic reactions, respiratory problems, heart problems, and migraines.

The most significant mold & mildew differences are as follows:

  • The texture
  • The seriousness of the potential health dangers provided by each
  • The color
  • The stage of development
  • The type of damage they cause.


How Mold and Mildew Form

Mold and mildew need the proper environment to grow. To start with, they need mold spores as seeds.

Three things contribute to spore growth: water, oxygen, and food. When increased or decreased, any of these elements may cause mold and mildew to develop or die.

Seeds develop into mold and mildew growth when the spores settle on a moist surface and are given time to grow. Mold or mildew growth may begin within 24 to 48 hours.

The white-gray patches of mildew expand outward, rather than upward, and stay on the surface. On the other hand, mold may creep up from the surface and eat away at its foundation, making removal more difficult.


Do Mold and Mildew Refer to the Same Thing?

Mold and mildew are often used interchangeably, almost as if they were the same thing.

Understanding the difference between mold and mildew is vital for precisely recognizing and efficiently removing mold or mildew from your house.

Is mildew a fungus?

Yes, mildew is a kind of fungus that appears as a patch of grey or even white fungus on the surface of a damp place. It is a microscopic fungus that spreads through the air as tiny spores. Mildew starts to colonize and increase when these spores drop in moist or humid conditions.

Can mildew turn into mold?

The truth is that mildew is a kind of mold, and it would love nothing more than for you to leave the area alone so that it may do its job and grow.

Can you differentiate between mold and mildew based on smell?

Another factor to know the difference between mold and mildew is based on smell. Mildew has a gentler, mustier scent that can be compared to damp socks. Mold has a stronger, more pungent odor similar to the smell of the rotting wood. This stale smell that you can experience is because it releases microbial volatile organic compounds as it develops.


Causes of Mold and Mildew

Mold and mildew depend on some common elements to flourish. Mold and mildew will not be able to take hold or grow if any condition is missing or deficient. If you are wondering how mold gets in your house then these facts might help you.

They will also kill a mold or mildew colony if one or more components are removed after their territory has formed.

Some of the factors include:

  1. Moisture

    The majority of mold and mildew in houses begins in isolated places. A typical source of moisture is an undiscovered or untreated minor plumbing leak under a bathroom or kitchen sink. The longer the moist environment exists, the greater the possibility that mold will begin to form.

    Mold and mildew may also develop in invisible areas, such as ceilings where drips from roof leaks are not captured. It may also enter walls due to leakage from broken or separated water lines, ventilation plumbing pipes, and drain waste.

    Both mold and mildew cannot live without moisture. If you eliminate sources of moisture, you can defeat them.

  2. Lack of sunlight

    Mold and mildew die when exposed to direct sunshine. Their cellular structure is destroyed by UV radiation in natural sunlight.

    They only exist outdoors in shaded or gloomy areas, such as under a forest canopy or on north-facing rock faces and tree trunks.

    Standard household lighting does not have the same negative impact on mold as natural light. The spectrum of artificial home lighting differs from sunshine and does not release the same sort of photons that kill them and halt their growth. While they prefer low light or even complete darkness, they may still thrive in houses with incandescent or fluorescent lighting.

  3. Poor ventilation

    Poor ventilation may enhance the development of mold and mildew. In the presence of moisture and limited air circulation, you will produce a humid and wet atmosphere, excellent for mold and mildew growth and development.

    Take note of any mold and mildew development indicators, such as black, white, or brown spots, or a musty smell.

  4. Oxygen supply

    Both mold and mildew cannot survive in the absence of oxygen. They need air to grow and reproduce. Without oxygen they are unable to grow spores and spread.

    It is hard to eliminate air from areas where mold and mildew may grow. Luckily, having lots of air movement is also effective against mold. Moving air via adequate ventilation helps surfaces dry by evaporating moisture that may be free or enclosed in bordered areas.

  5. Dirt and debris

    Dirt and debris can also lead to the formation of mold and mildew in the home. Moisture is present in the earth's soil and dirt. And as we know that one of the two needs for mold and mildew development is moisture. So it is advisable to keep dirt and debris away from your house.

Much of controlling indoor mold and mildew has to do with controlling moisture. Even if all the other conditions exist, mold and mildew can't grow without a water source.


Places Where You Can Find Mold and Mildew

Mold and mildew may grow almost everywhere. They are a fungus, and the spores are widespread. Mold and mildew will be present in virtually any setting. However, if left untreated, it may become quite severe.

  • Kitchen cabinets

    Mold and mildew may develop in various places, including under the sink, where moisture might build if pipes are leaking. Condensation may also cause mold or mildew if you have metal pipes.

  • Washing Machines

    Mold and mildew may form inside your washing machines if they do not entirely dry out. For this reason, it's a good idea to keep your washing machine running after you've finished washing.

    The inside of the washing machine should be cleaned regularly, particularly around the door seal.

  • Basements

    Because basements are frequently dark and wet, mold may grow almost everywhere in the basement. It's much riskier if you have an unfinished basement. You can prevent this by sealing your basement against moisture and examining it regularly for any moisture damage.

  • Refrigerators

    Condensation accumulates behind the refrigerator, which may lead to the accumulation of dust, filth, mold, and mildew. If your refrigerator has been leaking, this might worsen the problem. You should clean the back of your refrigerator regularly.


Health Concerns of Mold & Mildew

If you are wondering if mold and mildew are bad for your health, the answer is yes. Here is why.

Health concerns about mold

Mold may cause allergic reactions in certain persons. Mold exposure may cause symptoms such as wheezing, stuffy nose, and itchy or red eyes or skin in such individuals.

Some individuals, such as those with mold allergies or asthma, may have more severe effects. Workers exposed to excessive concentrations of mold in occupational situations, such as farmers working with moldy hay, may have extreme reactions. Fever and shortness of breath are examples of severe responses.

Health concerns about mildew

While mildew is generally known for having a destructive influence on plants and crops when it develops outside, it may also impact your health, just like mold if you breathe in the spores.

Mildew and mold both have the same potential health risks. According to FEMA, some of these symptoms include nasal and sinus congestion, wheezing, severe headache, and eye, throat, or nose discomfort.


How to Prevent Mold & Mildew

There is a famous saying that prevention is better than care. Following the below-listed tips for preventing mold and mildew can save you from significant damages:

  1. Check for leaks

    Examine for leaks while using domestic appliances such as kettles and showers may create moisture buildup, it's essential to thoroughly inspect your property for any gaps or leaks that may allow extra moisture into the home as moisture is the great source for mold and mildew to grow.

  2. Clothes should not be dried inside

    It may be tempting to hang your clothes to dry inside on a clothes horse or radiator. Still, without proper ventilation, moisture can evaporate from the garments and collect on the ceiling and walls, adding to your mold and mildew issue. So you should avoid drying clothes inside the premises of your home.

  3. Keep doors closed

    Because kitchens and bathrooms are the most likely places for mold and mildew to grow, aim to control excess moisture in such areas while they are in use, for example, don't leave the bathroom door open while taking a shower or bath.


Inspection Tips for Diagnosing Mold and Mildew in the Home

Following are the tips that can be used to diagnose mold and mildew in the home:

Conduct a visual check

If you suspect mold in your house, the first step is to conduct a thorough visual check. Mold may be identified by the appearance of spots in various colors.

The following are some of the most common places for mold and mildew to develop unnoticed and, as a result, it makes them good places to test for mold and mildew:

  • Beneath stacks of cardboard or newspaper
  • Below sinks
  • Behind your refrigerator
  • Behind the wallboard around leaking windows
  • In ventilation ducts


Order a professional mold inspection & testing

If you have a mold or mildew issue in your home, you must take the right action to deal with it. Both mold and mildew will simply grow and spread, producing health issues in your home and foundation damage.

Mold may have a variety of negative health impacts. Mold may produce a stuffy nose, sore throat, coughing or wheezing, burning eyes, or skin rash in some individuals. To keep you and your family safe from such issues, O2 Mold Testing has stepped forward to take care of you and your family.

Our staff has been successful in inspecting & testing for mold in various private and commercial properties. If you are facing mold issues you can contact us to make sure that you and your family remain safe.
Call us at 888-202-1680 to learn more.


<<< Back to our blog