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What are the Differences Between Mold & Mildew

Feb 28, 2024 | Commercial Water Damage, Mold Remediation

Mold and mildew are often confused with each other, but they do have some differences. In fact, mildew is often considered early-stage mold or a type of mold. On the other hand, mold comprises various species of microscopic fungi that look like multicellular filaments known as hyphae. 

These two types of fungi are commonly found in the home, and they thrive in moist environments, with molds growing mostly on organic matter like leather, paper, walls, and clothes exposed to moisture. Meanwhile, mildew is often present on windowsills, shower walls, and areas with high moisture content. 

Both mildew and mold removal can be very difficult, especially when they are given the chance to overgrow. These two types of fungi share similar features but also have some differences. Let’s dive deeper into the differences between the two.

Mold Verses Mildew


Mildew appears as a white, gray, or yellow color with a fluffy texture and a powder-like look, often on the surface of a moist area. It turns black or brown over time. 

Mold, however, can be a bit greenish, blue, yellow, brown, gray, black, or white with a slimy texture. It’s often described as ‘fuzzy’, and you’ll find surfaces affected by mold tend to rot.


Mildew has a musty smell, while mold tends to smell like rotting wood. Also, note that mildew doesn’t smell as strong as mold does.

Areas Affected

Both mold and mildew thrive in warm, moist places. However, each type is prevalent in specific areas. Mildew grows mostly on moist, warm surfaces that lack proper aeration. This includes items with damp surfaces, such as paper, clothes, and leather after they get wet.

It can also grow on the ceiling, floors, walls, and areas with lots of humidity, like bathrooms, kitchens, basements, decaying leaves, and other organic materials. Mildew can also grow on the surface of agricultural products like potatoes or grapes and on food such as cheese, bread, or meat.

Mold can grow inside permanent structures or beneath the surface of the affected material. These include walls and crawl spaces. You will also likely find mold in wet indoor or outdoor spaces like sheds, crawl spaces, and garages.


Mildew grows in a flat pattern that remains on the surface where it can be easily removed. Mold is slimy and forms into hyphae with multiple identical nuclei displaying evident black or green patches.


Mildew can damage the food it grows on, but the damage to other surfaces like tile floors or bathroom mirrors is often minimal. It might also affect an individual when they inhale the mildew spores, resulting in coughing, headaches, or breathing complications.

Compared to mildew, mold has more serious effects. 

Since it deeply penetrates the surface, it can damage structures like wood in homes, resulting in long-term health problems for those living there. Health issues caused by mold include migraines, respiratory issues, heart problems, joint pain, and fatigue.


Mildew is not as difficult to remove, and you can use just a simple cleaner and a scrubbing brush to remove it.

Unfortunately, mold is notoriously harder to remove as it attaches to materials or objects with microscopic filaments that go deep under the surface. The fact that it can survive very well in extreme conditions doesn’t help either. It’s better to get the professionals in for a proper mold assessment and to remove it.


Evidently, both mold and mildew have clear differences. To avoid having a difficult time removing both mold and mildew, it’s best to prevent them from forming in the first place by keeping all the areas dry. Keep humidity levels low with good air circulation inside the home as a first step. If you need further advice or help with mold remediation, don’t hesitate to call us today.

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Mold grows quickly, so you need us in your facility promptly. Premiere Restoration guarantees to dispatch a crew within 15 minutes of your call. We are local and in your area.

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Premiere Restoration is certified and trained in water damage restoration and mold remediation. We have been serving southern Minnesota since 2007.


Premiere Restoration meets or exceeds industry standards and best practices while performing mold remediation and water damage restoration.  Premiere Restoration is certified by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration (IICRC) for Applied Microbial Remediation.  Premiere Restoration is also a licensed Building Contractor in Minnesota, #BC760377

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Premiere Restoration is headquartered in Mankato, Minnesota. We provide Mold Damage Remediation services to all of Southern Minnesota, including MankatoFaribaultLake CrystalNew UlmNorth MankatoOwatonnaSaint Peter, and Waseca.

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