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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

What’s the Difference Between Mold and Mildew?

9/5/2018 (Permalink)

When it comes to home repairs, few things are worse than mold. Mold and mildew, a specific type of mold, are similar in many ways. They smell awful, don’t look the prettiest and can create long-term damage to your home and health. If you come across mold or mildew in your home, you should take immediate action to rid yourself of it and take preventative measures to stop it from returning.

There are several differences between mildew and mold. Knowing these differences can help you identify the type you may have in your house, and how to treat that specific fungi.


Mildew comes in two forms. Powdery mildew and downy mildew. Powdery mildew, is of course, powdery, resting typically on top of a given object. Downy mildew, on the other hand, will look like a stain, normally yellow in colour. Comparative to mold, mildew grows in a flat pattern making it easier to predict which direction it will grow.

Mold comes in one of two forms, either fuzzy or slimy. It lays on a spectrum of colours: blue, green, yellow, brown, gray, black and white. Mold will attach to anything that it touches and spreads from place to place making it difficult to remove.

Problems caused

Mildew typically causes damage to plants and crops, but that does not mean it cannot damage wood, fabric and other materials. It can cause breathing complications and headaches, but the smell is what most people say bothers them the most.

Mold can cause a spectrum of problems depending on the type of mold. Health problems like respiratory diseases, allergies, headaches, joint pain and fatigue, are all common when mold is existent in your household. Mold is also a threat to the structure of your house due its ability to spread. Because mold doesn’t grow in flat patterns like mildew, it can grow in all directions. Because of this, it is more damaging than mildew.

Both mold and mildew thrive in moist conditions, with little air circulation. Ventilation and proper air treatment are the best ways to prevent mold and mildew.


Mold and mildew take similar steps when it comes to removal.

First, turn off the air conditioning or heater and seal off the vents in the area with mold.

Second, put on a respirator and turn on a small fan to create circulation.

Third, use a cleaner meant for fungus and scrub the affected area. Make sure to scrub beyond the affected area to get any spores that have spread but haven’t grown to the point of visibility. Wear gloves and clothes you can throw away.

 It should be noted, this cleaning process is not 100% effective, and typically only a process taken by homeowners who spot mold/mildew in the early stages. If you spot any mold at all in your home, but specifically a larger area, it’s best to call a professional like SERVPRO® of Ajax, to ensure all mold is taken care of.

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