Mold or Mildew? Knowing the Similarities and Differences

difference between mold and mildew

Telling the difference between mold and mildew can be difficult for untrained eyes. Both can grow on various surfaces, especially in areas with high humidity. However, mold and mildew have slightly different characteristics. Being able to distinguish them is important to apply the right solution when you encounter them.

1. Characteristics of Mold

What is mold? When you see a fuzzy or slimy growth with dark shades, chances are you see mold. The term “mold” converse numerous species that grow on hyphae, a fibrous, multicellular filament layer. Mold mostly grow on hard surfaces, including your walls, window sills, or bathroom tiles.

Is mold a fungus? Yes, but not the kind that has visible caps like mushrooms. Mold grows wherever the spores land, especially if the condition is ideal. While mold may spoil food, furniture, room surface, and even building structures, it also helps us in many ways. For example, the most famous mold was the one used to produce penicillin.

We also use the mold to create foods and drinks such as cheese, beer, and soy sauce. Many cultures also use the mold to make specific foods and drinks such as tempeh (soy cake), rice wine, and natto (sticky, fermented soybean).

2. Characteristics of Mildew

What is mildew? While it is similar to mold, mildew has unique color, physical appearance, habitat, and growth characteristics. The term “mildew” is often associated with plants, which are its common habitats. However, despite its association with garden plants or crops, mildew also grows in a house or building.

Mildew prefers organic materials as its habitat. These materials not only consist of actual plants, but also plant-based materials such as wood, paper, or rattan. Unlike mold, mildew tends to grow in static form and size. Mildew also does not have “beneficial” varieties, and many people regard it as a nuisance.

What does mildew look like? Unlike mold, which often appears fuzzy or slimy, mildew usually appears as fluffy or powdery patches. They often look white or greyish, but some mildew species have darker shades.

3. Main Differences between Mold and Mildew

After seeing the characteristics of mold and mildew, we can determine their main differences, which are:

  • Forms and colors

Mold has more variations in shapes and colors. They tend to be slimy, fuzzy, and darker, with shades that range from orange to black (some mold types may appear yellow). Meanwhile, mildew is usually lighter and fluffier. However, some mildew types become black or brown when they grow older.

  • Growth size

Mildew vs mold is very distinctive in their growth sizes. Mold can spread into other areas if the spores are still flying and the condition is right. Mildew is more limited in its growth, and you can scrape it easily to prevent it from spreading.

  • Habitats

Mildew prefers organic surfaces to grow because it feeds on the materials. Aside from plants, mildew can be found on wood, wicker, rattan, paper, and other organic material-based objects. Meanwhile, mold can grow on hard surfaces like tiles, ceramic, or brick walls.

  • Uses

Mildew is regarded as a nuisance, especially among farmers and gardeners. Meanwhile, several mold species are useful in the making of cheese, bread, beer, various traditional condiments, and other products.

Despite their differences, mildew and mold spores need ideal conditions to grow. For example, they like warm and moist condition. Household varieties thrive in rooms with poor circulation.

4. The Danger of Mold and Mildew

Mold and mildew are both fungi, so they spread spores that can cause various ailments. Their spores can cause irritations in the eyes or allergic reactions. People may sneeze, cough, or experience wheezing breaths because of spore exposure. Those with asthma or allergy are also in trouble when staying in a moldy environment.

Mildew is a big problem among farmers and gardeners. The fluffy patches look unpleasant on flowers, leaves, or fruits. If you have a landscaped flower garden, the presence of mildew can force you to remove the affected flowers, ruining your design plan. Mildew also prevent good harvests, especially among farmers and gardeners who plant tomatoes, eggplants, and potatoes.

If left untreated, mold and mildew in the house can damage the structures. They also emit musty smell and destroy the property’s physical appearance. Your property value can decrease drastically because of untreated mold and mildew.

5. Things to Do after Finding Mold and Mildew

Once you spot mold or mildew in the house, there are several preventive steps to stop their spread and damage:

  • Prepare the work area

A small amount of mold or mildew can be scrubbed clean with commercial cleaning agents. Open all the windows, door, and air vents before cleaning. Wear a disposable mask and a pair of bathroom gloves. Start scrubbing the mold or mildew hard until they disappear.

  • Call mold remediation service

If the problem is more serious, you should call mold remediation service to assess the spread and damage. The mold specialist will check if the problem has spread to other areas in the house. Unlike mildew, mold removal is best left to professional service, because the latter can spread wide.

  • Create a nonideal environment for mold and mildew

Mold and mildew love humidity, moisture, and poor circulation. It would help if you created a nonideal environment to prevent them from spreading. It means creating better air circulation, opening (or making) window to allow natural light, and fixing all plumbing problems or leakage.

If you spot mildew on the plants, you must remove all the affected leaves and other parts. You can use a fungicide to remove the mildew, and water from the root to prevent wet leaves (which mildew loves).

Mold and mildew seem like similar fungi types, but they have differences in looks, habitats, and characteristics. Mildew only affects organic materials and plants, but it is easy to clean. Meanwhile, mold can grow on hard surfaces inside the house, and it is harder to remove because it can grow fast and wide.

Knowing what does mold look like and its difference with mildew is helpful to remove them. Once you correctly identify mold or mildew, it is easy to find the right solution and get rid of them.

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