Is it mold or mildew? Learn how to spot the difference

Is it mold or mildew? Learn how to spot the difference

It can be scary when you see a patch of something growing in a damp area of your home, or if you start smelling something strange but can’t find where it’s coming from. The question is, are you dealing with mold or mildew?

Both mold and mildew are types of fungus that like to grow in warm, wet areas – which makes homes in Hawaii especially vulnerable. And both can be detrimental to your home and cause health issues. However, mold is a much more serious issue that should be removed professionally, while you can typically clean mildew yourself.

Here are a few you ways you can determine if you have mold or mildew, so you can take the proper next steps.


Often you can visually tell whether the growth is mildew or mold.

  • Mildew: Looks flat or powdery
  • Mold: Grows in irregular patterns and looks fuzzy


The color of the growth can be a good clue of what type it is.

  • Mildew: Usually white or gray, though can eventually turn brownish
  • Mold: Can be yellow, green, red, or black


Both mold and mildew produce an off, musty smell. The difference is that the odor of mold is much stronger. Either way, if you smell something, it’s important to find the cause, even if it’s under carpets or be


Both mildew and mold have negative effects on your home and the health of you and your family. Once again, mold is more severe.
hind walls.


  • Only grows on top of the surface; won’t cause damage to underlying material
  • When spores are inhaled, can cause minor health issue


  • Can grow underneath surface, eventually causing structural damage to home
  • Spores are easily spread, and inhaling can cause more serious health issues and allergic reactions (especially from black mold)

Cleaning mildew or mold in your home

Once you determine what fungus has starting growing, you have a better idea on how to proceed in removing it.

With mildew, you can usually take care of the problem yourself by using a household cleaner such as bleach or vinegar, and scrubbing the surface with a brush. Since mildew grows in damp areas, you’ll want to resolve any water or ventilation issues to prevent it from returning.

Removing mold, however, is not a DIY project. It can be very easy to disturb and spread the mold spores, making your problem worse and increasing the health risks. Instead, it’s recommended that you bring in a professional restoration service to inspect your home. Tools such as infrared imaging can be used to find mold hiding behind walls. A professional will also use the proper equipment and process to remove the mold safely and effectively.

If you have concerns about mold in your home, contact the experts at Hawaii Restoration Services. We offer mold removal and restoration using the latest equipment. Let us solve your mold problem so you can breathe easier. Call us today at (808) 468-7978.

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