Mold vs. Mildew: how to distinguish one from the other

Both mold and mildew are types of fungi and share some basic characteristics. However, there are some distinctive differences between them due to their appearances and effects on human health.

Mold is the bigger threat of the two and is fuzzy in appearance. It is found in many different colors including black, green, yellow, blue, grey or white. Mold is difficult to clean as it penetrates beneath the surfaces, and it can cause structural damage to your property over time.


Mold also grows on food items or inside walls and crawl spaces. It has more than 10,000 different types which can cause a variety of health problems such as eye and skin irritation, breathing problems, coughing, asthma, pneumonia, migraines, dizziness, fatigue, and depression. It is particularly harmful to younger children and the elderly and can cause long-term illness in them.

Mildew, on the other hand, is less harmful than mold and usually grows flat. It is powdery and is found in yellow, brown, white and black colors. Mildew grows on the surface and does not penetrate it, so it is easier to clean as compared to mold. It primarily causes damage to crops and plants but can cause respiratory problems in human beings as well. It is commonly found growing on potatoes or grapes as yellow spots which later turn brown.

Mildew can be cleaned with any widely available cleaning spray and a scrubbing brush. Mold only appears on the surface after it has been growing in colonies for a while and it difficult to get rid off. You need to wear protective clothing and gloves if you want to attempt cleaning it, but it is highly recommended to leave the job to professionals.

Mold spores can easily spread and can have a very bad impact on your health. It is best to avoid any DIY attempts at mold removal because you may not realize the actual extent of structural damage. Mold is known for growing in hard to reach areas, and the usual DIY remedies don’t work on it. It needs specialist treatment which only experts can perform.