Mold Remediation Blog

How To Tell Whether You Have Mold Or Mildew

And What That Means For Your Family

Not every discoloration that you see on the walls of your DC area home is from a mold colony. Sometimes what you are seeing is actually mildew, which is closely related to, but not the same as, mold. So how do you tell the difference? Well, we’ll tell you all you need to know.

Identifying Mildew

Mildew is generally recognized as a dry, powdery substance that sits on the surface of your walls. It comes in many colors but is most often seen in brownish, yellowish, or black pigmentation.

It can look a lot like a simple stain, but its texture tells you it’s mildew instead of just a mark on the wall.

If you were to don the appropriate protective gear and wipe the area with a cloth, the powdery substance would come off easily, though more would need to be done to remove it completely.

Identifying Mold

Mold has either a fuzzy or slimy texture and a stronger musty smell than mildew. It comes in a variety of colors as well, including black, white, red, green, and brown.

The marked areas on your wall will usually have areas of higher concentration than others, giving it a splotchy look.

We don’t recommend using a wipe test if you are the tiniest bit uncertain about what you have on your walls. Wiping mold will just release a cloud of spores right into your face, which is not a good thing.

Why Does It Matter If It’s Mold Or Mildew?

While mold is more dangerous to humans, mildew isn’t a good thing to have in your home either, so who cares what we call it so long as it dies, right? Wrong. First, while the safety protocols are similar, the remediation steps for mold and mildew are not the same.

Physical Differences

Mildew sits on the surface and responds well to the proper killing and cleaning agents. Mold, however, burrows into the surface and is much more difficult to remove. It’s also much more destructive, so whatever it was using for its food source (drywall, joists) will need to be checked for strength and integrity.

Health Dangers

While breathing in mildew-ridden air can be unpleasant and cause mild reactions, breathing in too many mold spores can spark more serious symptoms. Mold in your home can cause:
  • Allergy-like symptoms (sneezing, itching)
  • Headaches
  • Confusion
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
For those with compromised respiratory systems, mold can cause severe asthma attacks. So it’s important to know whether you have mold or mildew in your home so you can take the proper precautions.

Treating Mold And Mildew

Before you tackle mold or mildew, you need to put on the proper safety equipment. A high-quality filter for your breathing, goggles that protect your eyes completely, gloves, and a long-sleeved shirt must be worn if you plan to mess with mold or mildew in any way.

Each type of colony, mold vs. mildew, is vulnerable to different chemicals. Mildew can usually be removed with standard household cleaning products. Mold, on the other hand, requires specific cleaning agents and methods to be completely eradicated. Removing mold is best left to the professionals in that field. They’re trained in removing the mold properly and how to keep it from spreading to the rest of your home during the removal process.

If you are concerned about mold or mildew in your DC area home, contact us at Valor Mold Removal to get your home tested. Our portable lab (one of 70 in the world!) will give you real-time results as we go room-to-room.

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96% Success Rate

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