What Is the Difference Between Mold and Mildew?

Mold Restoration

Mold and mildew are types of fungi that share common features but also differ in many ways. While both fungi grow in damp and humid areas, they can affect your health and home differently. Knowing the differences between mold and mildew can help you know how to approach the problem. Read on to learn what separates mold from mildew:

Where They Grow

Both mold and mildew can grow in damp areas in homes and outdoors. They need an organic food source, such as drywall, wood, plants or soil.

Mold can grow on any organic surface in a home. Given enough time, mold can cause materials to rot and destroy the structural components of a home. Mildew grows mostly on plants and can kill them if not removed in time. Mildew is also the name of the plant diseases caused by parasitic fungi.


Mold is usually fuzzy or slimy, whereas mildew appears either powdery or downy. Downy mildew is yellow at first and turns to brownish yellow later on. Powdery mildew is white, and then turns yellow and black when it matures.

Mold appears as irregularly shaped spots that can have different colors – blue, green, yellow, brown, gray, black or white. Mildew usually grows in a flat pattern and appears as white, gray, or yellowish patches that turn black or brown over time.

Exposure Symptoms

Mold exposure can cause several health problems such as allergic reactions (sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose, coughing, wheezing, irritation of the throat, rashes, etc.), respiratory problems (difficulty breathing, coughing, asthma attacks), heart problems, migraines, depression, and more. Mildew exposure poses fewer health risks – coughing, headaches, sore throat, and respiratory problems.


Some molds are beneficial, for example, Penicillium is used to make antibiotics and can also be used in the production of cheese and tofu. Mildew does not have any known benefits.

Prevention and Removal

As mold and mildew thrive in humid environments, it is important to keep your property dry to prevent growth. Repair leaks, use a dehumidifier to keep humidity at 30-50%, and ventilate appliances. Learn more mold prevention tips.

Removing mold and mildew yourself can be difficult and damaging to your health. For small infected areas – less than 10 square feet – on surfaces like walls, scrub the mold with a mixture of household detergent and water. If the affected area is larger than 10 square feet, the safest and most efficient way to remove the mold is to call a mold remediation company. Learn why DIY mold removal is not a good idea.

Mildew on plants can be removed by wiping the leaves gently with a dampened paper towel. After each wipe, freshen the paper towel. Replace the paper towel when all parts have touched the moldy surfaces and cut off any leaves that still have mold visible on them.

Among the many kinds of molds that can grow indoors, black mold is one of the most infamous. Learn about black mold removal. Contact your local PuroClean office for mold remediation services and water damage repair.

PuroClean is a leading commercial and residential restoration franchising company.  Founded in 2001, the company offers fire and water cleanup and restoration services, mold mitigation and remediation, and biohazard cleanup and removal throughout the United States and Canada through its franchise network of 240 offices.
Last edited on 27th of January 2023