Mildew vs. Mold: What’s the Difference?
Mildew vs. mold: think you know the difference? While the two types of fungi look and smell alike, they are two very different things. If you suspect there’s a fungus problem brewing in your household, we recommend getting to the bottom of it as soon as possible. Below, we’ve included information on the different characteristics of each fungus as well as tips for eliminating the issue in your home.
Mildew vs. mold: what’s the difference?
What is mildew?
If you’ve ever left wet clothes in a washer or a wet towel in a damp place, then you’ve probably experienced mildew at some point in your life. The fungus typically appears as patches of gray and white, and it is usually found on damp surfaces (think: damp clothes, damp paper, damp walls, etc). It can also look yellowish brown with a powdery appearance. Most commonly, mildew is found in bathrooms and basements where dampness often goes unchecked. These moist areas are prone to mildew infestations and must be kept dry as much as possible. Most homeowners will be able to spot mildew quite easily. They may also be able to smell its musty aroma.
What is mold?
If you’ve ever left fruit out too long, then you’ve probably spotted mold growing on your produce at some point (yuck). Whatever you do, don’t mistake mold for mildew. While they appear similar, these two different types of fungi are completely different beasts. Mold is typically darker in appearance – usually a dark black or greenish color – and may appear in patches (similar to mildew). Mold may also have a fuzzy or hairy texture. For instance, if you’ve ever left fruit out too long, then you’ve probably spotted a fuzzy mold growing on your produce at some point (yuck). Just like mildew, mold tends to grow in damp areas of the home (think: basements and bathrooms). According to WebMD, humans are exposed to mold every day in small amounts due to the lightweight spores that travel through the air. This is usually harmless. However, when the mold spores land on a damp area of the home and begin to grow, the fungus can become toxic to humans.
Mildew vs. mold: which is worse?
Without a doubt, mold is worse than mildew. According to American Home Shield, “the difference between mold and mildew is that unlike mildew, certain types of toxic molds can result in serious health problems for you and your family.” Black mold, in particular, is dangerous for humans. This type of mold “can lead to serious respiratory complications, which may result in long term health issues and even death in some cases,” per American Home Shield. The website states that mildew, on the other hand, typically only poses “minor health risks such as minor respiratory problems and occasional coughing fits.”
Where are common places you’ll find mildew and mold?
Bathrooms, basements and kitchens are places where you may find mold or mildew growing in your home. According to the CDC, “molds are very common in buildings and homes. Mold will grow in places with a lot of moisture, such as around leaks in roofs, windows, or pipes, or where there has been flooding. Mold grows well on paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, and wood products. Mold can also grow in dust, paints, wallpaper, insulation, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery.” The organization also states that mold can enter a home through a number of ways, including through doorways, windows, HVAC systems and vents. Mold in the air can also attach itself to items and be carried indoors.
How do you know if you have a mold or mildew problem?
Mold and mildew are easy to spot, if you know where to look. In addition, mold and mildew infestations also tend to give off a rather pungent aroma. It usually smells musty or earthy. Some people describe it as smelling like rotting wood. In some cases, homeowners are unaware that they have a mold or mildew problem in the home until their bodies begin showing symptoms.
What are symptoms of mildew or mold exposure?
Symptoms of mildew exposure are typically mild (if there are any at all). Symptoms of mold exposure can be much more serious. Exposure to mold typically affects people who are sensitive to molds. The CDC states that “exposure to molds can lead to symptoms such as stuffy nose, wheezing, and red or itchy eyes, or skin. Some people, such as those with allergies to molds or with asthma, may have more intense reactions… Severe reactions may include fever and shortness of breath.”
How do I prevent mildew and mold?
The best way to prevent mildew and mold from occurring or accumulating in your home is by keeping the inside of your house as dry as possible. Regularly inspect bathrooms, basements and kitchens for dampness. The CDC recommends taking these steps to prevent mold growth inside the home: 1) control the humidity 2) fix leaky roofs, windows and pipes asap 3) clean and dry the home after flooding 4) ventilate shower, laundry and cooking areas.
Can I test my house for mildew and mold?
If you’re experiencing symptoms of mold exposure but haven’t spotted mold or mildew in your home, you can hire a professional mold testing service to test for it.
Who is considered high-risk for health issues caused by mold exposure?
According to the CDC, those with allergies, suppressed immune systems or underlying lung disease are more susceptible and sensitive to fungal infections. In addition, individuals with a chronic respiratory disease, such as asthma, may experience more severe symptoms of mold exposure than the average person.
How do I remove mildew or mold from my home?
To remove mildew or mold from a home, you need to first address the moisture problem in your home. This may mean fixing a leaking pipe or cleaning up a flooded area. Unless you fix the root of the mildew and mold problem, you will continue to have issues with fungus in your home. Any insulation, carpet, ceiling tiles or drywall with mold should be removed and replaced. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to thoroughly remove the fungus from these surfaces. If the home floods, the CDC recommends cleaning up and drying out the home within 24 to 48 hours. “Use a wet vacuum to remove remaining dirt. Scrub cleanable surfaces (such as wood, tile, stone) with soapy water and a bristle brush. Thoroughly clean all hard surfaces (such as flooring, molding, wood and metal furniture, countertops, and sinks) with water and dish detergent. Dry surfaces quickly and thoroughly after cleaning.”
If mold or mildew is growing on a hard surface, we recommend using cleaning agents aimed at mold and mildew removal. Examples include Clorox Tilex Mold and Mildew Remover and Lysol Mold and Mildew Foamer with Bleach – just to name a couple. Homeowners can also use a bleach solution “of no more than one cup of bleach in one gallon of water to kill mold on surfaces,” per the CDC.
Article courtesy of moving.com