mold vs mildew: what's the difference

Mold vs Mildew: What’s the Difference?

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

  • Although mold and mildew are often considered the same thing, they have subtle differences, and understanding these differences can help you properly address a mold issue on your property.
  • Mold is a type of fungus that spreads through microscopic spores and grows in moist environments.
  • Mildew is a common type of mold that appears in white-gray and grows flat along a surface.
  • Seek professional services for support with controlling mold and mildew to identify the full scope of the issue, prevent it from spreading, and address the underlying causes.

Although the two terms are often used interchangeably, mold and mildew have differences that are important to consider, especially if you are trying to keep them from growing in hidden spaces on your property. They look alike and grow in similar environments, but they have subtle differences in their appearance and possible health effects.

Neither are welcome sights in your home, so being able to differentiate between the two can promote effective mold and mildew removal. At Alpha Environmental, we are committed to helping you maintain a healthy home, so we are here to provide the information and support you need to keep your home free from all types of mold.

What is Mold?

Mold is a type of fungus that grows in moist environments. Mold spreads through microscopic spores in the air and can be found indoors and outdoors, as they are a natural part of the environment. Mold is a useful part of the environment as it breaks down organic material.

Mold grows in areas where there is prolonged moisture, oxygen, and little light. When spores find the ideal growth area, mold can quickly begin to grow along a surface. You can identify mold by its fuzzy texture and dark shades of red, green, or black.

Mold poses potential health risks, especially to sensitive groups, including children, older adults, and those who are allergic. Some symptoms of mold exposure include:

  • Itchy or watery eyes
  • Allergic reactions
  • Congestion
  • Sore throat
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing

What is Mildew?

Mildew is a type of mold or fungus that grows in moist spaces. The term mildew refers to a specific kind of mold. It has a gray, powdery appearance and spreads flat along surfaces that it grows on.

Although the symptoms of mildew exposure are not as severe as mold exposure, mildew can also lead to minor respiratory problems, such as:

  • Congestion
  • A runny nose
  • Itchy or watery eyes
  • A cough

The Difference Between Mold and Mildew

Mold and mildew are very similar, as they are both types of fungi that grow in moist environments. Both mold and mildew can also produce a strong, musty odor and affect air quality, especially in damp and unventilated spaces.

Still, these two kinds of mold do have some key differences to look for. Telling the difference between the two will also affect how you treat and remove them. 

Mold is normally a darker shade of red, green, or black, while mildew is a lighter white or gray that turns brown. Mold also has a fuzzy, raised texture, while mildew tends to grow flat.

Mold vs. Mildew

The key difference between the two is that mold is more severe in its effects and poses harsher health risks. Mold is also more aggressive, as it can eat into the material it grows on and cause damage, so it is even more important to address it early to protect your property.

Although mold and mildew differ in severity, It is important to address both as soon as possible so that they do not spread and cause more health issues or damage to your property.

Eliminate Mold and Mildew from Your Home

Nobody wants either mold or mildew in their home. The experts at Alpha Environmental can remove and remediate these nuisances to preserve your and your property’s health.


Prevention and Control

Prevention is the best way to control a mold problem and avoid any damage. Both mold and mildew thrive in moist environments where spores can easily spread, so take caution to control moisture on your property.

Other factors that can promote mold growth are lack of sunlight, poor ventilation, and dirt buildup. It only takes about 24-48 hours for mold to grow in the right environment.

Some places to watch out for mold in the home include:

  • In bathrooms, especially around showers and bathtubs
  • Underneath sinks  
  • Around HVAC vents
  • Near drain pipes, gutters, and other sources of water dripping
  • Areas facing water damage
  • In crawl spaces or attics
  • Near potential leaks
  • Under carpets
  • Behind drywall

In addition to regular monitoring, you can keep your property mold- and mildew-free by preventing their ideal growth conditions. To avoid mold and mildew growth, follow these tips:

  • Maintain low humidity levels throughout the home, typically between 30 and 50%.
  • Ventilate areas that contain moisture, like the bathroom, kitchen, and laundry room.
  • Clean showers and sinks regularly.
  • Fix leaks in walls, pipes, roofs, or windows as soon as they arise.
  • Inspect the area around your HVAC system for possible leaks.
  • Check around the home for potential points of entry for water, like cracks in window frames or masonry.

Why You Should Seek Professional Services

If you suspect mold or mildew anywhere on your property, then you should contact professional services for support. Professionals have the experience and equipment to address mold while preserving your health and providing you and your family peace of mind.

Mold and mildew removal is a more complex process than it appears on the surface—you must be sure to clean the mold, prevent spores from spreading, and kill all of the mold so that it does not regrow soon after.

On top of cleaning the mold, you must also ensure that you address the root causes so it does not return in the future. Therefore, it is essential to remove all the excess moisture from the area and address any source of unwanted water entering the home. Professionals can do all of these things effectively.

Other reasons to seek professional services include:

  • Professionals can perform a detailed mold inspection or conduct professional mold testing if you are unsure whether your home has mold.
  • They have tools to determine the full scope of the issue and remove all of the mold.
  • They will use technology to identify areas of moisture and prevent the growth of new mold.
  • They will carefully contain the contaminated area so that spores do not spread throughout the home.
  • Professionals know how to identify the type of mold or mildew for the most effective cleaning solutions and mold remediation strategies.
  • They have the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect themselves from exposure.
  • They can address the issue without you putting yourself or your family at risk.

Trust the Professionals for Mold and Mildew Remediation and Removal

Although mold and mildew are both similar, stubborn forces, they do have subtle differences to consider. Because they both have potential health and property risks, both should be removed as soon as possible. It is difficult to address the entire issue, so you should seek professional services with the proper experience and equipment to remove mold and mildew safely.

At Alpha Environmental, we support homes and businesses around Portland with professional mold testing as well as remediation and removal. We will effectively clean and remove all the mold and mildew from your home while also addressing the underlying causes so it doesn’t regrow.

Contact us at Alpha Environmental today to get support in controlling mold and mildew on your property.  

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Lake Oswego, OR
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Beaverton, OR
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