It is a common misconception that mold and mildew are interchangeable terms for the same thing. However, while these are both forms of fungi, they are actually quite different. In this article, we will take a closer look at the differences between the two.

Differences in Appearance

Mold and mildew look very different, as the table below shows:

Mold Mildew
Color Green or black (sometimes has pink tinge) White, gray, yellow
Location Damp often dark areas. Areas that are wet and humid. Tends to grow under the surface of things, such as wallpaper. Moist, warm areas. Tends to grow on the surface of objects, such as fabric.
Texture Fuzzy or slimy Fluffy or powdery

Where do they Grow?
Mold and mildew will both grow well in warm and moist places, but aside from this similarity, both fungi do have unique preferences:

Mildew Likes…

  • Damp Surfaces
  • Fabric, paper, and leather
  • Areas with high humidity, such as kitchens, bathrooms, and basements
  • Can grow on humid floors, walls, and ceilings

Mold Likes…

  • Indoor spaces such as bathrooms/homes that have become flood damaged
  • Outdoor spaces such as sheds and garages
  • Damp/Wet objects
  • Decaying food
  • Spaces with low light and high humidity (though this isn’t always the case)

The Effects of Mold Vs Mildew

Mold and mildew also have different impacts on the surfaces they come into contact with, as well as the individuals in contact with it. While both fungi can impact upon health, in general, the effects of mildew tend to be less severe.


  • Harms foods it grows on
  • Doesn’t damage surfaces
  • Those exposed to mildew spores may develop a cough, get a headache, or suffer respiratory issues.


  • Can damage entire structures
  • Black mold can release toxins into the air
  • Mold exposure can cause long-term health conditions
  • Symptoms include respiratory issues, heart problems, joint pain, migraines, fatigue, and depression.
  • Symptoms can be more severe for those with mold allergies and include congestion, sneezing, irritation of the eyes, skin, lungs, and throat.

Remediation Mold Vs. Mildew
These types of fungi also differ on how easy they are to remove. As it typically only settles on the surface, mildew can be removed quite easily. Minor cases may only require a little bleach and some elbow grease. More persistent examples may require a more specialised cleaner, but in general, remediation is easy.

Unless the spread is very mild or appears to only be settled on the surface, in which case a specialised clear can be used, mold should be handled by professionals. This is due to the increased hazard mold can pose to health. If you think you want to try removing it yourself, then always remember to use gloves and a mask/respirator.

Differences Explained

So, as you can see, mold and mildew are two very different types of fungi that can both be a hazard to health and home. While mildew is easier to remove, infestations of either kind should be dealt with quickly and not ignored.