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What is the Difference Between Mold and Mildew?

Mold or Mildew?

Mold and Mildew are types of fungi that share common features but differ in many ways. Both fungi grow in damp and humid areas, however they can affect your health and home differently. Knowing the differences between mold and mildew can help you know how to approach the problem at hand. The following will explain the differences between mold and mildew. 

Where They Grow

Both mold and mildew can grow in damp areas in homes and outdoors. They need an organic food source, such as drywall, wood, plants or soil, ( something that once was a living organism).

  • Mold can grow on any organic surface in a home. Given enough time, mold can cause materials to rot and destroy the structural components of a home.
  • Mildew grows mostly on plants and can kill them if not removed in time. Mildew is also the name of the plant diseases caused by parasitic fungi.

Mold and Mildew Appearance

Mold is usually fuzzy or slimy, where as mildew appears either powdery or downy. Downy mildew is yellow at first and turns to brownish yellow later. Powdery mildew is white, and then turns yellow and black when it matures.

  • Mold appears as irregularly shaped spots that can have different colors – blue, green, yellow, brown, gray, black or white.
  • Mildew usually grows in a flat pattern and appears as white, gray, or yellowish patches that turn black or brown over time.

Exposure Symptoms

Mold exposure can cause several health problems such as allergic reactions (sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose, coughing, wheezing, irritation of the throat, rashes, etc.), respiratory problems (difficulty breathing, coughing, asthma attacks), heart problems, migraines, depression, and more.

Mildew exposure poses fewer health risks – coughing, headaches, sore throat, and respiratory problems.

Symptoms from both can vary from person to person and the strength of each person’s respiratory and immune system. Typically children and elderly are most at risk for health related issues due to exposure. These issues can be prevented by trusting in Pursuit Restoration to properly contain your property before disturbing any growth. If you feel you have any respiratory or immune issue please see your doctor for health related questions and concerns. 


Some molds are beneficial, for example, Penicillium is used to make antibiotics and can also be used in the production of cheese and tofu. There are a variety of molds in controlled doses and circumstances that can benefit the human body.

Mildew does not have any known benefits.

Prevention and Removal

As mold and mildew thrive in humid environments, it is important to keep your property dry to prevent any growth. Repair leaks as soon as possible, if needed install a dehumidifier to keep humidity at 30-50% and ventilate appliances (dryer, bathroom exhaust fans, stove). Learn more mold prevention tips.

Removing mold and mildew yourself can be difficult and damaging to your health. For small infected areas – less than 10 square feet – on surfaces like walls, scrub the mold with a mixture of household detergent and water. If the affected area is larger than 10 square feet, the safest and most efficient way to remove the mold is to call Pursuit Restoration to professionally handle the job. Learn why DIY mold removal is not a good idea.

Mildew on plants can be removed by wiping the leaves gently with a dampened paper towel. After each wipe, freshen the paper towel. Replace the paper towel when all parts have touched the moldy surfaces and cut off any leaves that still have mold visible on them.

Among the many kinds of molds that can grow indoors, black mold is one of the most infamous. Learn about black mold removal. Contact Pursuit Restoration for mold remediation services and water damage repair.

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