Home Improvement

What’s the Difference Between Mildew and Mold?

March 10, 2020

Have you ever been taking a nice warm bath, only to look up and see yellow or black spots on the ceiling above? Now, all you can think about is the unwanted growth in your bathroom. Those spots are likely mold or mildew, which love baths just as much as you do. If you don’t eradicate the pesky fungus soon, you may have a huge infestation on your hands. Learn about the difference between mildew and mold and how to prevent both of them.

What’s Mold?

Mold is a type of fungus made up of tiny living organisms. They can be a wide array of colors, even purple, and play an important role in decomposing dead matter in nature. Molds thrive in moist environments and reproduce by releasing spores, which float through the air and pollinate other molds. 

While it might be useful in an outdoor setting, it can be extremely annoying — and dangerous — inside your home.  Mold typically tends to grow on walls in the bathroom, kitchens or crawl spaces but can also be found on carpet, furniture and floors. 

Wherever you find it, there’s generally a source of moisture on which it feeds and grows. In small doses, mold is practically harmless but, for some people, touching it or inhaling spores can cause allergic reactions and breathing problems. Over long periods of exposure, the mycotoxins of black mold can cause poisoning and may be fatal to someone with allergies or asthma. 

What’s Mildew?

Mildew is a product of mold and typically develops in hot, humid climates especially houses and is white, gray or yellow. It grows in the same places as mold, but it can also grow on clothing, leather, wood, paper, cotton and other materials around the home. 

Often, it can discolor and eat away at these materials, causing them to rot and decay. Unlike mold, however, mildew sits on the surface of materials and objects without penetrating deep into them, making it easier to clean and remove. 

Much like mold, mildew can also cause health problems for those who come into contact with it. However, the side effects aren’t as serious. Typically, the spores can cause coughing, headaches, sore throats and upper respiratory issues. 

How to Prevent Mildew and Mold

The best way to rid your home of mold or mildew is to prevent it from growing in the first place. Luckily, there are several ways to protect even the dampest areas from these intrusive fungi. 

Clean Well and Often

Keep unsightly mold and mildew at bay by maintaining a clean house. Wipe down surfaces of walls, shower curtains, counters, drawers and furniture often. Wiping down the shower with a towel after each use will help prevent soap scum and mold growth. 

Additionally, wash damp clothes as soon as possible to prevent mildew. Dirty clothes with soil on them should be cleaned immediately, as the dirt can provide enough food for mildew to grow. 

Use Chemicals 

If you clean regularly but still experience reoccurring mold infestations, consider using chemicals to eradicate the fungi. Bleach, borax and ammonia can all help remove molds and prevent them from returning. Just be sure to use them in a well-ventilated area and follow instructions carefully, as these chemicals are quite powerful. 

If you’d like to use natural cleaning products, vinegar, baking soda and tea tree oil can help as well. Furthermore, be sure to use the correct cleaning products on the corresponding surfaces or materials to prevent damage or staining. 

Dry and Circulate the Air

If there’s an area in your home, like the bathroom, that you simply can’t keep dry all the time, use an air conditioner or dehumidifier. This will help remove moisture from the air, preventing it from settling on walls and other surfaces. 

Most bathrooms also have an exhaust fan built in to remove moisture. Turn it on before your shower and leave it running for 20 to 30 minutes afterward to thoroughly air out your bathroom. 

What’s the Difference Between Mildew and Mold?

Mold and mildew have their distinctions, but both can be bothersome, ugly and dangerous. If you notice spots on surfaces or clothing, take immediate action to remove it. Otherwise, the mold and mildew might continue to grow and spread to other areas of your home. 

Prevent it from returning by keeping things dry any way you can. Because, if you nix dampness, you’ll nix the fungi. 


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