What Is the Difference Between Mold and Mildew?

Mold Damage

Mold and mildew are used so interchangeably in everyday speaking and in advertising that it’s easy to think they’re the same thing. They both grow in warm, damp places and can grow on almost any type of surface. Everyone has seen moldy bread on the counter or mildew on a shower curtain. In the battle of mold vs. mildew, there are no winners and the losers are people everywhere. There are a few important differences between mold and mildew that everyone should know.

What Is Mold?

mold guideAccording to the Centers for Disease Control, mold is a type of fungi that’s found both indoors and outdoors and has been around for millions of years. Estimates on the number of species of mold ranges from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands. They can be found in nearly every type of environment, even harsh, dry conditions. Mold can enter buildings through doorways, windows, vents, and HVAC systems. Airborne mold can attach itself to clothing, shoes, or animals.

Mold growth often looks like spots, can be various colors, and may smell musty. Exposure to mold can cause stuffy noses, throat irritation, coughing, and eye or skin irritation. People with lung illnesses can experience more severe symptoms.

Mold growth should be taken very seriously because it won’t go away on its own. Left untreated, it will spread and destroy building materials, furnishings, and other items in your home, as well as make people ill. It’s possible to clean small areas of mold growth on your own; the CDC recommendations include using no more than 1 cup of bleach to a gallon of water. Larger areas of growth will need professional cleaning.

What Is Mildew?

There are actually two types of mildew. Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that affects many types of plants. According to the University of Minnesota Extension office, it rarely causes damage to the host plant, but significantly reduces the beauty of plants grown for their looks, like roses. It often looks like baby powder or like the plant is covered in spider webs, and it can cause leaves to fall off. Treatment usually includes pruning to allow better air circulation, and regular applications of fungicides to protect the remaining leaves. Plants that have a history of powdery mildew, like roses, can be sprayed with fungicide as a preventative.

The mildew most commonly confused with mold is described by as, “a cottony, usually whitish coating on the surface of affected parts.” Mildew is also caused by a variety of fungi, but not as many types as mold.  It doesn’t eat away at surfaces like mold does; it just lies on the surface of a moist area. That’s why shower curtains are such easy targets for mildew growth.

Fortunately, mildew is easier to clean than mold. Commercially available cleaners are readily available; a scrub brush and “elbow grease” are usually the only other items needed to eliminate most cases of mildew. Mother Nature Network suggests making a paste of baking soda and water and using a scrub brush for an all-natural mildew cleaner. Use white vinegar to rinse away the baking soda residue.

Keep Mold & Mildew Away

Mold Remediation Services for Mount Vernon, VAOnce you know what to look for and how to get rid of mold and mildew, be sure to take the necessary steps to keep them away from your home. Both are attracted to areas of high humidity and moisture, so look for any leaks or damp areas near the infestation and repair them as soon as possible. Consider using a dehumidifier in high humidity areas of your home, like the basement, to keep mold and mildew in check. Allow curtains to dry completely between showers and clean them often using a cleaner designed to kill mildew.

If you find mold in your home or commercial property in Alexandria, VA or Washington, DC, you need to act quickly. Not only will it damage your building and contents, but it can cause serious consequences to your health. Many people who think they have a lingering cold or hay fever find out they have mold in their homes. The highly trained experts at ServiceMaster NCR are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to provide mold remediation services whenever there’s a need. Visible mold growth over 10 square feet must be remediated by trained professionals, according to industry guidelines, and our technicians have all the training and expertise necessary to provide comprehensive mold remediation. We use the InstaScope pre- and post-testing to find all traces of mold, even airborne spores and mold in hidden places like walls, so it can’t grow back once we leave. Our Trifect mold removal system is a nondestructive remediation system that quickly and safely removes toxins so you can get your life back to normal.

Mold removal costs vary, depending on the extent of the infestation.