Mildew vs Mold: What’s the Difference and When Should You Worry?
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  • March 14, 2019

Hanging a large mirror or painting can hide a multitude of sins, from cracks to stains. Good job? Well, not if you’re trying to cover up mold. Not only is it unsightly, but it can also cause serious health problems. 

It’s not just mold that can cause issues, mildew can as well. It’s important to understand the difference between mildew vs mold so that you know how best to treat them. Here’s the lowdown.

Mildew vs Mold

Mildew is a type of mold. Both are types of fungi which love damp surroundings and spread across surfaces easily. They can be a nuisance in the home and each of them can be a danger to health.

There are though differences between them. For example, they tend to prefer growing in slightly different places and the degree of risk they pose is also not quite the same.

Places Mold Likes to Grow

Mold will thrive in warm, dark and damp environments. That could apply to any part of your home given the right circumstances. Bathrooms and showers, mattresses on beds and insulation in your attic are common places for mold to grow.

It’s not uncommon to spot mold in damp locations like sheds, garages, and on boats.

Mold spores can be carried into your house on shoes and clothes without you ever realizing it. Once inside, if the conditions are right, mold will grow there and spread fast.

Checking for Mold in the Home

If mold isn’t stopped in its tracks, it can and will cause damage to your home. It’s wise to check for mold routinely. The main ways to do this are through sight and smell.

Mold comes in lots of colors. Black, yellow, green, and brown are but a few. When it appears on a flat surface such as a wall it generally forms irregular shapes. It can also look hazy to the naked eye. 

Mold breaks down organic material so it could be the material under the mold is rotting. This can bring with it smells due to the chemicals the mold releases. The most usual description of the odor of mold is musty. 

Places Mildew Likes to Grow

Mildew prefers flat surfaces to grow on. Any damage caused by it in the home tends to be just cosmetic. In that respect, it’s the lesser of the two evils when either of these two uninvited guests enters the home.

Outdoors, it can cause significant damage to plants. It is considered to be less of a health risk in the home than mold can be. It’s also easier to treat.

Checking for Mildew in the Home 

Mildew loves damp, warm and dark places. It thrives on flat surfaces and is commonly found on window sills and shower surrounds. It’s also found on smaller objects that have damp surfaces.

Paper, fabrics or leather which for some reason has become wet, are often targets for mildew. Mildew will grow rapidly when conditions are right. It can be powdery or have a sort of downy look about it. 

When it’s powdery, it will be white in color when it first appears, although this can change to yellow, brown, or black as it grows. The downy type of mildew begins by being yellow and then turns brown as it ages.

Like mold, mildew tends to have a musty smell. The best way to tell the difference between mold and mildew is by sight. If you’re struggling to decide, then it may be time to call the professionals who will be able to test for both. 

Harmful Effects of Mold and Mildew

Neither mold nor mildew is particularly pleasant in the wrong places. Mildew doesn’t usually leave any lasting damage to the flat surfaces it grows on such as mirrors or tiled bathroom floors. 

When inhaled mildew spores can cause coughing, headaches or breathing problems.  The adverse effects of mold are likely to be much more serious. It can cause devastating structural damage to buildings and even cars.

Mold can cause long-lasting health issues. These can range from heart problems to depression. On top of this, some people have a mold allergy. This can cause skin and eye irritations along with nasal congestion.

Mold and Mildew Prevention

The best way to stop mold and mildew getting into your home is to create an environment that they won’t like. There are lots of measures you can take to help prevent mold in the home.

Make sure your home has good air circulation and gets plenty of fresh air. Reducing humidity is key. Purchasing a dehumidifier could be a wise investment. 

You should make sure your heating and cooling systems are checked often. Keeping air ducts clean will also help to prevent spores from spreading. Ensure you have no leaks in either the bathroom or kitchen. 

Cleaning Mildew Away

Mildew is fairly easy to clean. It can be wiped away with a specialist cleaner and brush. It’s important to stay safe while you’re doing this. You should wear rubber gloves and a facial mask so that you avoid breathing in spores.

Go the extra mile and clean around any infected areas to be sure all the mildew is completely gone.

Getting Rid of Mold

If the area of mold is around ten square feet or less then generally it should be possible to clean the area yourself. This is provided you take the necessary safety precautions.

It could be you’ve had an unexpected leak and notice mold soon afterward. Fixing the leak quickly and cleaning away mold should be fine. If you’ve larger areas of mold, then it’s definitely the moment to bring in a mold remediation company

Mold can get beneath surfaces, spread quickly and survive in the toughest conditions. Even though it has its own particular smell, it’s only possible to see mold once the colonies have started to grow. 

Time to Call the Professionals

Trying to clean large areas of mold yourself is a health hazard and is unlikely to be effective. When it comes to mildew vs mold inside the home, then mildew is the easier to clean away and is less likely to cause such severe long-term health issues.

Read more here about the dangers of mold and how we can help. We are the experts. 

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