Difference Between Mold And Mildew: The Real Answer

Mold and mildew — a lot of people wouldn’t be able to tell one from the other off the top of their heads. 

It’s a shame because spotting the difference between mold and mildew can save lives. This is especially true if you live with someone with a weakened immune system.

So today, take the time to learn more about both types of fungi that could be growing inside your home. Learn what they look like, the effects they have on people, and what preventive measures you can take.

Telling the Difference Between Mold and Mildew

Mold is a type of fungus that can grow on food or on parts of your house like your wallpaper, windows, carpets, air conditioning unit, fabrics, and areas that are usually damp.

Mildew, on the other hand, is a specific type of mold. However, it grows flat. Meaning it’s only stuck to the surface, which means you can wipe it off quickly.

Look at it this way: While not all molds are mildew, mildew is always a type of mold.

That said, both types can be dangerous if left untreated.

Mold and mildew can spread to affect a large section of your house. So, if you don’t act fast, it might be a pain to get them out for good.

So how do you tell them apart? And what adverse health effects could both of them cause?


It’s easy to understand why people mistake mold for mildew and vice versa. Both fungi share similar traits and can grow under the same conditions.

But it’s easy to tell them apart if you know what to look for.

And once you’re able to identify the problem you have in your home, you’ll know what steps you need to take to rid yourself of the problem.

Here’s the information you need to tell the difference between mildew and mold.

  •     Mildew — This type of mold is usually white, gray, or brown and would have a powdery look. Mildew also gives off a foul odor. You’ll most likely come across them on flowery plants. As mildew grows, it could turn black. You can also find them on produce like potatoes and grapes. While these fungi start growing outdoors, it is possible for mildew to get inside the house. 
  •     Mold — There are thousands of types of molds. So it is hard to summarize what each one looks like. Colors can vary between each type; they come in yellow, gray, brown, white, black, or green. If you need to know what specific kind of mold you have, you may need to collect samples for testing or hire a professional. Their irregular shapes distinguish them. Mold has a musty odor. 

If you’re still unsure of the type of fungi you’re dealing with, you can use bleach to test it. Pour a few drops of bleach on the affected area. Now, wait a couple of minutes.

If the fungus turns lighter, then what you have is mildew.

If the fungus remains dark, then what you have is mold.


Mold and mildew share common effects on the human body. Symptoms include coughing, headache, sore throat, and difficulty in breathing.


Severe cases of mold exposure have more severe consequences. People who have allergic reactions to mold or have a weak immune system are more susceptible to the risks.

They can develop skin irritation, pneumonia, asthma attacks, heart problems, pain in the joints, fatigue, or even depression.

Infants, small kids, and the elderly should not come into contact with mold.


The best way to prevent any mold is to deprive it of what it needs to thrive. These are air, food, water, and the right temperature (between 41 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit).

Some of these factors are hard to control. You can’t deprive mold of food since it feeds off the very thing its attached to like your walls. You can play with temperature, but it would be challenging, especially in a home setting. And you surely couldn’t take the air out of the room.

So we’re down to one option: Keeping moisture in check. And with the right ventilation, you can keep your space dry and prevent mold from forming.

You can enlist the help of a dehumidifier to keep the humidity level in your home to be around 50%.

If you have an air conditioning unit, you need to have someone inspect the air ducts and crawl spaces regularly. It would also help if you take the initiative and check your pipes for any sign of leakage.

As soon as you see mildew forming on any indoor plant you may have, move them out of the premises as quickly as possible. If you don’t, it could spread inside your home.

Better safe than sorry.

What to Do If You Have Mold Instead of Mildew

People view Mildew as the lesser of two evils. It’s easier to take care of, and it’s far less dangerous than other forms of mold.

If you spot mildew, you can use a commercial cleaning product to deal with it. Even vinegar (mixed with water) can get rid of it. As mentioned earlier, mildew only infects the surface so it can be wiped off.

But if you have any other type of mold, then you have a problem.

By the time you see mold developing, it’s usually too late. They would come from areas of the house that are not in plain view. Looking for its point of origin will be time-consuming.

You’d think you can call one of those companies that offer free mold inspections. But more often than not, they only bring more complications. They’re not worth it.

Instead, call a trusted mold inspection service like AWA Mold Inspection and let them handle your mold problem.

They are licensed professionals servicing the Houston, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida areas. And they can inspect your mold and test it all within the same week.

If you want to schedule an inspection, you can fill out the form on the website or call 855-220-3900.

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