Mold or Mildew? What’s the Difference?

What is the Difference Between Mold and Mildew?

Mold and mildew are both types of fungi, but there are some key differences between the two. Mold is a general term used to describe any type of fungus that grows in the form of multicellular filaments called hyphae. 

Mold can grow on a variety of surfaces, including wood, paper, fabric, and food. Mold can come in a variety of colors, including black, green, white, and brown.

Mildew is a type of mold that typically grows on damp, organic surfaces, such as shower tiles, grout, and windowsills. Mildew is usually white or gray in color and has a powdery appearance. Mildew is easily treated with a store-bought cleaner and a scrubbing brush.


Common mold (Cladosporium) presents as small black spots in ordinary spaces. It can grow inside and outside of the home, and it’s far less harmful than toxic black mold. Non-toxic black mold is easier to clean and less musty, but it can still trigger allergic reactions in people with sensitivities.

The black mold you’ll mostly hear talked about is (Stachybotrys chartarum), which can make you sick if you have mold allergies. If you have a weakened (compromised) immune system, it can cause fungal infections in your airways or other parts of your body. 


Mildew is often a term used to describe the growth found on living plants in horticulture. You would say you have mildew growing on your pumpkin vine for example. These types of mildew are more specifically known as powdery mildew or downy mildew. If you’ve ever noticed a white powdery film on a tree leaf or the yellow blotches midsummer, those are most likely a type of mildew.

Mildew can grow on non-living surfaces in the home, but usually requires a more temperate (warmer) environment than other fungal species due. It is generally white or light in appearance and has a whispy or delicate texture to it. Mildew like this can generally be cleaned from surfaces relatively easily, but it should be managed in much the same way as any other mold growth.

The term “mildew” has been used interchangeably with “mold” for years. When you hear people say they don’t have a “mold” problem, but, rather a “little mildew” was growing, they generally mean to imply that there is not a health risk associated with the growth in their home. Even if the referenced area is technically one of the few mildew species growing in the home, it poses similar health risks to other fungi including mold with regards to allergies. Not only that, but if the conditions are right for mildew to grow, they are also right for other molds to grow and it is very likely already present.


Characteristic Mold Mildew
Definition A general term for any type of fungus that grows in the form of multicellular filaments called hyphae. A type of mold that typically grows on damp, organic surfaces.
Color Can be black, green, white, brown, or other colors. Usually white or gray.
Appearance Can be fuzzy, slimy, or powdery. Usually has a powdery appearance.
Growth pattern Can grow on a variety of surfaces. Typically grows on damp, organic surfaces.

If you find mold or mildew in your home, you should clean it up immediately. If the mold or mildew growth is severe, you may need to hire a professional mold inspection company.

Mold and mildew are both types of fungi that can cause health problems. Mold is generally considered to be more dangerous than mildew. The best way to prevent mold and mildew growth is to control moisture levels in your home. You can do this by using a dehumidifier, running exhaust fans in the bathroom and kitchen, and fixing any leaks. You should also clean and dry damp surfaces promptly.

If you find mold in your home, it is important to identify the type of mold before taking any action. You can do this by contacting a professional mold inspector. If the mold is toxic, you should contact a professional mold remediation company to clean it up safely.

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