Mildew Vs. Mold: What’s the Difference?

Mold and mildew are often talked about in the same vein, though they are actually quite different. While they often present in the same colors and are both fungi, they grow in different places and their biology is also somewhat different. If you are concerned about mildew and mold in your home or business, it helps to first know the difference and how to control growth of each of these.

Biological Differences

The main difference between mold and mildew is in their biology. Mildew is found and grows mostly on plants, such as tomato, potato, beans and rice plants. It can also be found on certain materials inside your home, such as the shower curtains, leather, clothing and paper. When spores produce in these areas sexually or asexually, it can cause mildew. Mold on the other hand, gets its energy and growth from organic matter and food sources. Mold grows anywhere there is mold, water damage, or other types of organic matter. It can often be harder to spot mold, but the smell is very pungent.

Their Appearance

The appearance of mold and mildew is also slightly different. When you see spots that are fuzzy and are a green, orange, brown, black, purple or pink color, it is most likely mold. Mildew will begin with yellow or white spots and gradually turn to brown. Some mildew also looks whiter, similar to a talcum powder residue. All mildew will eventually turn to a brown, then a darker black color.

The Dangerous Health Effects

Both mold and mildew can cause negative health effects, though in slightly different ways. Mildew will first cause damage to your crops and plants, as that is one of the ways it grows. If you inhale mildew, whether indoors or outdoors, it can lead to lung problems, a scratchy throat, headaches, and excessive coughing. The mildew can even begin growing in the lungs and lead to more serious problems. Mold causes dangerous health side effects with prolonged exposure, such as respiratory problems and allergies.

Preventing Mold and Mildew

If you want to prevent mold and mildew from growing in our around your home, you need to first focus on reducing moisture. In both cases, excessive moisture in the air or on surfaces can lead to the growth of the mold and mildew spores.

A whole house fan can help provide excellent circulation throughout your entire home, while a dehumidifier helps to dry the air. You might only need the dehumidifier in areas of your home that tends to have excess moisture, such as the bathrooms or the basement. You also need sufficient ventilation in your home. To control mildew on your plants, always remove weeds when you see them, treat them for insects, and avoid overheating them.

If you notice signs of mold or mildew, work to clean it up thoroughly then think of ways you can control future growth and prevent it from occurring in the first place.