Mold and Mildew – What’s the difference?
Mildew is a type of mold, which means they share a lot of similarities. Without a doubt, mold is worse than mildew as it burrows into surfaces while mildew grows on the surface. Both mold and mildew species can release toxins into the air which can trigger an immune response. Molds can grow on any organic matter, including clothing, leather, paper, ceilings, walls, and floors which have experienced water infiltration.
Mildew often lives on shower walls, windowsills, and other places where moisture levels are high. Mildew thrives in humidity (relative humidity between 62% and 93%) and temperatures between 77 and 88 degrees. Because mildew grows on the surface it is easy to spot in those moist areas and leads to less damage. Mold, on the other hand, is more insidious and burrows underneath the surface, making it harder to notice and even harder to eliminate.
How can you tell what you have?
It’s important to know whether you’re dealing with mold or mildew, and they differ in appearance, which makes them easier to identify. Mildew is always flat and is typically white, gray, or yellow and its texture is fluffy or powdery. On the other hand, mold tends to be green or black, and it usually grows underneath the surface of anything that has gotten wet. Mold can often look fuzzy or have an almost raised appearance and its texture can be fuzzy or slimy.
Another way to identify the difference is by smell. Mildew has a mild, musty smell that some have compared to damp socks, but mold smells stronger and more pungent because as it grows, it produces microbial volatile organic compounds.
How to Prevent Mold and Mildew
Keep healthy humidity levels. Mold and mildew thrive in a humid environments, so it is important to keep your humidity levels down. Fresh air is important to help remove excess moisture, and sunlight is an enemy of mold and mildew so bright and airy rooms are less susceptible to growth. Dry wet areas if airflow is not possible. Squeegee showers and floors in locker rooms and repair leaks that may cause extra moisture to accumulate.
How to clean
Health risks may come with the presence of both mold and mildew, so eliminating it as soon as it’s detected is essential. A major difference between mold and mildew is how to eliminate each. Standard cleaning products and a scrubbing brush work on mildew, which exists on surfaces. Once a fungus has been identified as mold, it is important to know what kind of mold it is because some types of molds can be removed with specialized cleaners while wearing protective gear like a mask and goggles. Others, namely Stachybotrys chartarum, require hiring a mold removal professional.