Despite both mold and mildew being common household fungi, much confusion and misinformation revolve around the two types. Mistaking one for the other is a simple thing to do, as they both share many key characteristics, such as their ability to thrive in humid, damp environments. Since both of these can cause adverse health effects, understanding the difference between mold and mildew can help you effectively eradicate either form of fungi from your home.
What is Mold?
If you encounter an irregular patch of fuzzy-appearing fungi with colors such as black, green, and pink, it’s most likely mold. Mold grows in damp areas, such as the bathroom or basement, and is accompanied by a musty odor. It’s capable of penetrating surfaces by growing hyphae that gradually break down the material. As mold grows, it releases spores that trigger cold-like symptoms, including itchy eyes and congestion. However, if you experience severe symptoms such as infections or vertigo, you may be dealing with toxic black mold, which must be handled by a professional abatement team.
What is Mildew?
Interestingly, mildew is classified as a type of mold. Specifically, FEMA identifies it as an early-stage mold. Similar to other molds, it germinates on surfaces via spores that travel through the air, has a musty smell, and tends to grow in humid, moist environments. However, it has some key differences that set it apart from most household molds:
- No Surface Penetration: Mildew is incapable of penetrating surfaces, though it can still cause outward damage. It only grows on flat surfaces – mostly on the grout between bathroom tiles.
- Pale, Powdery Appearance: Mildew often presents as a powdery or downy substance that is white or gray in color. However, if ignored, it can turn yellow and eventually black.
While it’s pale color can make it difficult to catch early, the fact that it only resides on surfaces makes it easy to remove. When found, it’s important to eradicate it with household cleaners and a brush, as it can – like most molds – cause cold-like symptoms. Though, it’s far less harmful than black mold.
It’s important to understand the difference between mold and mildew, as the removal or remediation of each requires different levels of effort. While mildew can be simply removed using household products, most molds require a certain level of expertise to remove the underlying roots and prevent them from regrowing. That’s why if you discover mold in your home, you can trust Fiber Control, Inc. to perform the appropriate remediation or removal efforts. Contact us today to find out about our mold or other hazardous material services.