Difference Between Mold and Mildew

Fungus (plural ‘fungi’) are a species of organisms that get their food from decaying material or other living things. There are different types of fungi such as yeasts, rusts, smuts, mildews, molds.

Mold and mildew are a type of fungi commonly found in moist places. One of their significant features is that they tend to spread easily and if left unattended can damage property or create health issues.

One may consider mold and mildew as brothers as both belong to the general classification of fungi, have similar attributes, thrive usually on moist areas and are harmful to health.

Mold vs Mildew

The difference between mold and mildew lies in their appearance and growth. While mold is green or black and grows under any wet surface, mildew is usually white, or yellow and grows on the surface. However, the above is not the only difference. A comparison between both the terms on certain parameters can shed light on subtle aspects.

Mold vs Mildew


Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonMoldMildew
DescriptionType of fungus that develops on stale food or on objects that have been left too long in moist or wet areasMildew can be described as a specific type of mold
ColourGreen or blackWhite
TextureFuzzy, slimyFluffy, powdery
Where usually found/seenUsually underneath a surface.
Grows on food
On a moist surface.
Seen on walls, damp surfaces, leather, clothings, ceilings
Pattern of growthGrows as irregularly shaped spotsGrows in regular flat pattern
TypesAlternaria , Aspergillus, Penicillium, Stachybotrys chartarum and many othersPowdery mildew, downy mildew, aspergillus and many others
Generally classified asFungiSpecific type of mold
UsesFood production, drug productionNone
Which is more harmfulMold is more harmful as it can grow on foodLess harmful as it is easy to remove since it grows on surface
Why harmful/less harmfulReleases toxinsUsually affects plants and crops, walls and easier to eliminate
What is commonly affectedFoodPlants and crops
Could the underlying surface be affectedIf grown on food, the food will be spoiltThe walls, ceilings will not be affected
How to preventNot keeping perishable food for many daysUsing mildew removers


What is Mold?

Mold is basically a fungi growth at home mostly on food, or other slightly wet or humid surfaces. For example, one may see green growth on stale bread at home.

The common varieties of mold include: alternaria aspergillus, cladosporium, penicillium.

Mold requires a moist place to grow. mold grows in irregular or circular fashion on a surface. The colour of mold is either green or black and bears a slimy texture or at times downy.

Mold can cause detrimental consequences if one eats any food containing mold. Even the surfaces where there is growth of mold begin to rot.

Also, prolonged exposure to mold can be fatal from a health perspective and cause serious long-term issues such as heart problems, depression, asthma, pressure, and extreme fatigue.

Mold can leave lasting damages on the surface on which it spreads. Though molds are harmful, some are used in food and drug production or to improve flavor.

Examples include yeast, penicillium.


What is Mildew?

Mildew is a type of fungus which grows on plants, crops, walls, paper, cloth, under wet and moist conditions. Ideally, one may observe mildew on walls, ceilings or any surface which is wet for some time (so can be called ‘surface fungi’).

Mildew is also classified as a type of mold. mildew will appear in white or gray color. There are multiple types of mildew.

The common ones include powdery mildew, downy mildew, aspergillus, rhizopus, etc.

The ideal months for growth of mildew is during the winter season when people have a tendency to close the windows and humidity rises. If mildew are left unattended, they can be harmful for health as inhalation can cause cough, headache, respiratory problems.

But the best part is that mildew can be eliminated easily through multiple ways such as cleaning the surfaces, using mildew removers, scrubbers, etc. to clean and wipe the surface.

One does not need to replace the entire surface or the item as the surface will not get damaged by mildew. There is less possibility of someone getting seriously harmed due to mildew due to its easier elimination being feasible.


Main Differences Between Mold and Mildew

  1. Mold is a type of fungus, green or black in appearance and with a fuzzy or slimy texture. Mildew is a specific type of mold usually in white, gray or yellow colour and with a fluffy or powdery texture.
  2. Mold grows underneath the surface of anything that has got wet or moist, ideally can be seen on perished food items. Mildew thrives on moist or damp surfaces such as bathrooms, walls, ceilings, damp surfaces, paper, fabrics.
  3. Mold appears as irregularly shaped spots that can have different colors – blue, green, etc. Mildew will usually appear growing in a flat pattern.
  4. Mold may be used in food production, example, penicillium is utilized for cheese making. Mildew may not be used for any food related purpose.  
  5. Mold can be prevented by keeping all areas in home dry and free of moisture, not keeping perishable foods for too long. For preventing mildew, one can use mildew removers, using mildew-resistant seeds, and fungicides.   
  6. The smell of mold is that of a pungent rotting wood or paper, accompanied with release of harmful toxins. Mildew has a stale, or damp smell.
Difference Between Mold and Mildew


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1056928/
  2. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/109719639201600108
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2 thoughts on “Difference Between Mold and Mildew”

  1. Bernadette Mcglamery

    These fungi are the reason how life originated on Earth and now they also have so many categories. Good to know that.

    1. Mold and Mildew are distinguished on the basis of their growth and appearance. Every species on Earth has so many varities. Its amazing!!

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