The Difference Between Mold and Mildew

So, living in the tropics I am getting very familiar with how everything likes to grow. Including mold and mildew. I didn't realize there was a difference between the two until I stumbled across this well written article on the Grainger website. BTW, Grainger is a great source for all kinds o things my local hardware store just doesn't carry - like stainless steel nuts and bolts in weird sizes...

I do a quick review bellow, and here is the full article:

Mold and mildew are fungi that develop due to excessive, unchecked moisture. Both mold and mildew start as tiny spores that often require a similar environment to flourish, making them easy to confuse. However, mold and mildew shouldn’t be treated the same. It’s important to understand the differences in appearance and health effects to prevent more significant issues from taking root in your property.

Mold vs. Mildew


  • Fuzzy, raised appearance 
  • Darker shades of black, green or red
  • Often confused for dirt
  • Produces allergens that can trigger allergic reactions and asthma attacks
  • Produces potent toxins and/or irritants


  • White/gray appearance in early stages
  • Turns brown
  • Flat, powdery 
  • Small dots
  • Causes minor respiratory issues 


  • jowitt.europe
    jowitt.europe Posts: 1,411 admin

    Thank you, very useful information. I do not live in the tropics, but our house does not have a modern ventilation system. We air it by opening doors and windows. When we do not air enough, mole (judging by the description) appears somewhere behind furniture or in bathrooms. We have special sprays and paint. We treat some corners a few times a year.

  • Marjory Wildcraft
    Marjory Wildcraft Posts: 1,584 admin

    I've found that a bit of preventive maintenance - a bit of Clorox and water - early at the first signs of eiither mold or mildew is best.

  • Michelle D
    Michelle D Posts: 1,415 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Wow, I never really thought about the difference between them. This is great information. Thank you @Marjory Wildcraft

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,358 admin

    @Marjory Wildcraft Bleach only bleaches the stain, but will not actually kill the spores.

    We used a special wash as well to treat mold (on walls, anyway), and a special paint that is supposed to prevent regrowth as well. Both arent supposed to contain toxic chemicals. So far so good.

  • JodieDownUnder
    JodieDownUnder Posts: 1,482 admin

    @Marjory Wildcraft yes, living in the sub-tropics does pose a challenge re mould-mildew. To help keep in check we run our ceiling fans a lot in the wet season. We’ve also purchased 2 dehumidifiers that make a big difference & have plenty of damp rid containers in wardrobes etc. We make up a mixture of 250ml white vinegar, 250ml bleach & 10 drops clove EO in spray bottle & clean mould off everything we find. Leather shoes, belts, furniture. Wood, furniture, picture frames. Windows, mirrors etc.

  • water2world
    water2world Posts: 1,088 ✭✭✭✭

    @Marjory Wildcraft Oh my---Lots I did not know! I'm now armed for battle against mold and mildew.

  • Cornelius
    Cornelius Posts: 872 ✭✭✭✭

    These are two fun guys (fungi) that are not invited to hang out lol

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,920 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Even in cooler climates, it's a real challenge to keep them under control indoors, especially in rooms that don't have adequate airflow.

    Vermont is a land where almost every house has a problem with water in the basement, so you can imagine the extent of the problem.

  • dipat2005
    dipat2005 Posts: 1,225 ✭✭✭✭

    Since so many of you mentioned bleach and I can't use that because of allergies; I am going to read the article and see if I can glean more information! Thanks for the link @Marjory Wildcraft

  • JennyT Upstate South Carolina
    JennyT Upstate South Carolina Posts: 1,273 ✭✭✭✭✭

    My oldest daughter has significant reactions from mold. My husband has affectionately dubbed her "our canary in the coal mine". Whenever we looked at houses or even the house where we were living, if she started to have certain symptoms we knew there was mold that we needed to address pronto.

    W had mold remediation done at our last house before we moved in but there was still issues down the road. So we encapsulated our crawl space and used a dehumidifier to help with that space. We also did some regrading by hand to help with extra water. We did so many things to that house to help but she still had issues.

    It wasn't until we bought our property and house we're in now and had to totally gut the inside that her issues subsided. I was able to rip out the offensive drywall, insulation, etc. And then treat the wood and remaining areas close to the mold spots that it was clear. I even called the mold remediation specialist to come out and tell me if there was anything else that could be done to insure it was taken care of. He said that I did exactly what they'd do and more, needless to say that make me feel good.

    As far as treating the mold I used a combination of Lysol spray, disinfecting, wipes and a spray I purchased at the hardware store. And those combined made sure it was all good and dead. We run dehumidifiers and try to make sure there's good airflow to insure there's no reoccurrence. 😊

  • marjstratton
    marjstratton Posts: 1,132 ✭✭✭✭

    Thank you. This is great information. We definitely need to do some sort of remediation on our house. We had some major leaks in the roof for quite some time before we had a roofer come in and reroof for us.

  • Marjory Wildcraft
    Marjory Wildcraft Posts: 1,584 admin

    Wow @JennyT Upstate South Carolina that is a lot of work...

    We had a nice big comfy home in Austin and after a while I started having all sorts of undiagnosable issues. Eventually we found a really old bowl of pot pouri underneath the intake for the HVAC unit. It basically ensured we spread the mold throughout the house very time we turned it on. Yikes

    Fairly soon after that, and the decision unrelated to the mold, we moved to Red Rock. Moving is also drasitc mold remediation. LOL

  • Merin Porter
    Merin Porter Posts: 1 admin

    Oh my goodness, I've never thought about the difference between the two. Thanks for posting this, @Marjory Wildcraft!

  • Lisa K
    Lisa K Posts: 1,839 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Very interesting article, instead of bleach, I wonder if white vinegar would work. I find that it works great on other things better than most cleaners.

  • nicksamanda11
    nicksamanda11 Posts: 721 ✭✭✭✭

    I used Kilz, I think the mold is worse for me than the stuff in kilz- so that is working so far as I can tell.

  • MissPatricia
    MissPatricia Posts: 318 ✭✭✭

    I've often wondered but never knew. Barbara O'Neill of Australia says to use white vinegar , not bleach.

  • mart85
    mart85 Posts: 38 ✭✭✭

    Some say to use bleach, From my experience it is not as good as using a de humidifier, then wiping down all the areas with this product ->

    If you read the ingredients you will find it is baking soda..... hint hint hint......

  • SuperC
    SuperC Posts: 916 ✭✭✭✭
    edited September 28

    Mold is usually black, green, pink or blue. It may smell or not. Mildew is gray or white.

    They are equally difficult to remove. Yet, if you open the windows (most tropical houses have screens or no windows but shutters) so use a oscillating fan, paint the walls with Kilz. Its very strong so wear a face mask respirator. It usually takes four hours to set, so make plans and leave the house so not to inhale the fumes. Leave the fans on for about two full days. Then paint the walls with a color.

    My brother is allergic to them both. He uses two or three dehumidifiers in the dry hot months, and uses one or two humidifiers in the colder months.