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mold vs mildew

Mildew and mold are similar in many ways. In fact mildew is a type of mold. The texture and color are often used to distinguish between mold and mildew, and the term mildew can also denote mold that is at an earlier stage of growth, less harmful and less likely to do damage to your home.

What Is the Difference Between Mold and Mildew?

The word mildew is used to refer to different types of mold and fungus with the terms mold and mildew often being used interchangeably or even together.

What Is Mold?

Molds are microscopic fungi that grow from microscopic spores that are released into the air. Molds will grow almost anywhere there is organic matter and moisture making them a common feature both inside and outside our homes.

Molds play an important role in the ecosystem breaking down dead organic matter and releasing the nutrients back into the soil. But this natural process can also happen on your ceilings, walls, shower curtains, bathroom tiles, carpets and other areas around your home where it becomes not so much a useful natural process as a nuisance that can be unsightly, cause damage and even have health implications for your household and will require mold removal or remediation from a professional service in Spring Lake.

What Is Mildew?

Mildew tends to grow on flat surfaces with your home including windowsills, shower walls and other places that are often damp. Mildew is often considered to be an early stage mold and as such the effects on your property and health are less severe.

Mildew generally grows in flat patterns and has a powdery or fluffy appearance.

Mildew tends to grow on the surface and is unlikely to cause more than cosmetic damage to your property as long as you catch and treat the issue as quickly as possible.

What Causes Mold and Mildew?

Mold and mildew spores are almost always present in the environment, yet they need certain conditions to grow. This includes the right temperature, moisture, and organic material.

Leaks from the roof, rising damp from the basement, leaking pipes or just high humidity can all cause mold and mildew to grow in your home. Especially if they are not noticed and dried out promptly.

Where do Mold and Mildew Commonly Grow?

Mold and mildew commonly grow in damp and dark areas as well as anywhere there has been flooding or a leak or in parts of the home where high humidity is common such as the bathroom, kitchen and laundry room.

Mildew grows on flat surfaces whereas other types of mold will take hold on pretty any surface.

The Health Issues Associated With Mold and Mildew

As mentioned mold can cause both structural damages to your home and cause occupants to develop health problems.

Health issues associated with mold vary dramatically depending on both the type of and the individual. Young children and people who are sensitive to mold or have existing conditions are most likely to suffer whereas others may notice little or no effects. Symptoms from mold exposure include:

  • Coughing or sneezing
  • Either a blocked or runny nose
  • Irritation to the eyes, nose and throat
  • Dry itchy skin
  • Headaches
  • Tiredness and lethargy

For those with a mold allergy or asthma these symptoms can worsen and cause shortness of breath, wheezing and tightness of the chest. Mold has even been shown to cause the onset of asthma in young children.

As mildew is a type of mold it generally has the same health effects as mold. The symptoms are caused by breathing in or coming into contact with the spores and so if someone in your household is experiencing these symptoms and you don’t know the cause it could be worth investigating your home for mold and mildew.

Mold tends to prefer to grow in warm damp environments. Discovering mold growing in your home is often a sign that you have a damp problem, a leak or inadequate ventilation which will need to be dealt with as well as getting rid of the mold.

How to Deal With Mold and Mildew in Your Home

If you notice mold or mildew growing in your home you will want to get rid of it as quickly as possible and take steps to deal with any underlying issues and prevent it from coming back.

Tips to Prevent Mold and Mildew

As with most things prevention is better than cure in the case of both mold and mildew. As both mold and mildew need moisture and some form of organic matter to grow then the same prevention methods can be employed.

  1. Keep surfaces dry. Especially in the bathroom and kitchen and window sills that suffer from condensation.


  2. Get a Dehumidifier. If you have high humidity then using a dehumidifier can make a big difference to the amount of moisture in your home.
  3. Open windows to keep air circulating.
  4. Check and change your filters regularly.
  5. Inspect regularly for mold and mildew. Both mold and mildew are easier to get rid of if you spot them straight away so inspect possible problem areas regularly.
  6. Wipe up spills or leaks immediately. This can be especially important on carpet or upholstery as can ensuring they are fully dry.
  7. Keep surfaces clean. Mold and mildew feed on organic matter and that includes dead skin cells that settle as dust around our homes.

Removing Mold and Mildew

If you have discovered mold or mildew in your home you should take steps to remove it as quickly and effectively as possible. If you are sensitive to mold or have discovered a large quantity of mold or mildew this may mean calling in the professionals to make sure you get rid of the issue safely and efficiently.

A simple bleach solution will be effective at removing small areas of mold and mildew on non-porous surfaces. You will need to wear gloves, protective clothing and ideally a mask to protect yourself while you clean.

Once you have removed the mold or mildew you need to also sort out the cause of the problem to make sure it doesn’t come back.

If in doubt it is always best to call a professional mold remediation company as disturbing mold can cause it to spread and make the problem worse.

Give us a call to make an appointment for a free estimate.