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, and moulds.


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

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

Key Takeaways

  1. Mold is a fungus that grows in multicellular filaments called hyphae, forming large, visible colonies, while mildew grows in flat patterns and is usually less extensive.
  2. Mold can be of various colors and textures, while mildew is typically white or gray and has a powdery or downy appearance.
  3. Both mold and mildew thrive in damp environments and can cause damage to surfaces or materials, but mold is generally more harmful, potentially causing structural damage and health issues.

Mould vs Mildew

The difference between mould and mildew lies in their appearance and growth. While mould 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 terms on specific parameters can shed light on subtle aspects.

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Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonMouldMildew
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 mould
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, clothing, ceilings
Pattern of growthGrows as irregularly shaped spotsGrows in a regular flat pattern
TypesAlternaria , Aspergillus, Penicillium, Stachybotrys chartarum and many othersPowdery mildew, downy mildew, aspergillus and many others
Generally classified asFungiThe specific type of mould
UsesFood production, drug productionNone
Which is more harmfulMould is more harmful as it can grow on foodLess harmful as it is easy to remove since it grows on the surface
Why harmful/less harmfulReleases toxinsIt usually affects plants and crops, and walls and is easier to eliminate
What is commonly affectedFoodPlants and crops
Could the underlying surface be affectedIf grown on food, the food will be spoiltThe walls, and ceilings will not be affected
How to preventNot keeping perishable food for many daysUsing mildew removers


What is Mold?

Mold is 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 standard varieties of mould include Alternaria Aspergillus, Cladosporium, and Penicillium.

Mould requires a moist place to grow. Mould grows in an irregular or circular fashion on a surface. The colour of the mould 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 mould. Even the surfaces where there is the growth of mould 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 damage on the surface on which it spreads. Though molds are harmful, some are used in food and drug production or to improve flavour.

Examples include yeast, and Penicillium.


What is Mildew?

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

Mildew is also classified as a type of mould. Mildew will appear in white or grey colour. There are multiple types of mildew.

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

The ideal month for the growth of mildew is during the winter season when people have a tendency to close their windows and humidity rises. If mildew is left unattended, it can be harmful to health as inhalation can cause cough, headache, and 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 of 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, grey 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, and fabrics.
  3. Mold appears as irregularly shaped spots with different colours – blue, green, etc. Mildew will usually appear to grow in a flat pattern.
  4. Mold may be used in food production; for 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 the home dry and free of moisture and not keeping perishable foods for too long. To prevent 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 by the 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. Avatar of Bernadette Mcglamery
    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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