Many people don’t know the difference between mold and mildew. Worryingly still, many also refer to the two interchangeably, yet their subtle differences impact how they are identified and treated. Both mold and mildew negatively affect the quality of your indoor air, so understanding their nuances will help you take care of yourself better. Read on to know how you can identify these unique fungi.
What is mold?
This fungus spreads through microscopic spores floating in the air. Mold is essential to the ecosystem, as it helps in the decomposition of dead matter. This process allows for nutrients that the dead materials possessed to be released back in the soil, for living organisms to use. Although these fungi might be good for the outside, inside your home, it can cause aesthetic and, more importantly, structural damage. Additionally, it’s a well-documented health hazard.
What is mildew?
Mildew is best defined as an early-stage mold. Even though one comes after the other, the two couldn’t be more different in their behavior. In your home, mold can destroy the structural elements of your home, while with mildew, you only have to worry about the cosmetic damage. Nonetheless, mildew is just as destructive to plant life in nature, as is mold.
Even though mildew can pose a health risk to you, it’s not anywhere near as harmful as mold. It’s cheaper, less dangerous, and easier to deal with mildew before it turns to mold. Mildew usually grows on moist and flat surfaces, making it easy to distinguish between the two at first sight.
How does mold affect your health?
You’ve probably heard some people lay claim to falling ill because of mold. Sure, these fungi that spread through microbial spores are a definite health hazard, but even those with different colors pose a health risk all the same. If you have allergies or suffer from a respiratory condition like asthma, you might have had an unforgettable brush with mold since it aggravates the symptoms. Other symptoms for those who are more susceptible could be dry, scaly skin, itchy eyes, nose, and throat, runny or stuffy nose, coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. The severity of the symptoms varies depending on age and overall health. In fact, most people without allergies only get to recognize mold when they see it.
How does mildew affect your health?
Even though it is well known that mildew is detrimental to plants and crops outdoors, it may as well affect your health. Breathing mildew or mold spores can cause the same potential symptoms. If someone is afflicted in your household, the symptoms could only get worse because mold and mildew release more of the spores by the day. If experiencing such symptoms, inspect problem areas, and deal with the issue promptly.
What does mold look like?
Mold surges on, with long filaments poking out, which look fuzzy to a human eye. It can appear in different colors, ranging from yellow, green, brown, blue, gray, white, and black. When present on a surface, it seems to be spread irregularly through it. Mold helps decompose organic material, thus wherever present, the material on which it is present is susceptible to collapsing with little to no effort.
What does mildew look like?
Mildew has a cotton and powdery like texture. The latter’s appearance is white, and then it starts to transition to colors ranging from yellow, black, or brown. The cotton-like texture forms as it ages, while also transitioning from a yellow to brown color. Mildew flows with the underlying surface it grows on.
Where does mold like to grow in a home?
This fungus is widespread in nature and can get inside your house with the spores easily attaching to clothing or pets. Regularly check for it, and take swift measures to remove it and prevent its spread. Some unfortunate events like floods can precipitate the growth of mold. Nevertheless, mold thrives in dark, oxygenated, moisture-laden, and warm places. Such areas can be found all over your home, from the shower to the widespread insulated attic, under a wall with water leaking on it frequently, or a wet basement.
Where does mildew like to grow in a home?
Mildew likes warm, dark, oxygen-rich, and moisture-laden environments, just like mold. You may find it on shower walls or window sills, which usually have such conditions. Mildew grows readily when such settings are met.
What does mold smell like?
Mold typically has a soft smell, but when it does, it can often be described as “musty.” At some stage in the molds growth stages, it can emit microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOCs). These microbes float around in some stages of the mold’s growth, so technically, you are not smelling the fungi but its chemical compounds.
What does mildew smell like?
Just like mold, mildew also emits MVOCs, and similarly, the smell is musty. Therefore, distinguishing between the two, in terms of how they smell like can be challenging. You will need to see visually and determine which is which.
Is mildew mold?
Mildew and mold are not plants, but fungi. It’s no surprise then that they have a lot in common. They are found inside homes, spread quickly across multiple types of surfaces, thrive in moist environments, and often impact your health and home negatively. However, when looking at the mildew vs mold debate, you are now armed with a better view of distinguishing one from the other. Look at the different characteristics that differentiate them, from looks, smells, risk factors, and where they like to grow.
A problem that can arise is when you try to distinguish between black mold vs mildew, since both typically look, and smell the same. In such a scenario, you can seek professional assistance to differentiate between mold and mildew. Besides, black mold or Stachybotrys is especially dangerous, and a professional can quickly identify it and guide you on how to remedy the problem. It looks like a slimy fungus, which gives off a noticeable musty smell and is a serious threat to you and your family’s health.