Is there a difference between mould and mildew?
It’s easy to get confused when distinguishing between mould and mildew; they look similar, appear in similar areas and both can be prevented in the same way. Both are frequently mistaken for one another, so it’s important to be able to identify each one to know how to prevent them from spreading around your home.
What is Mould?
Mould is a fungus that can live either outdoors or indoors, thriving in warm, moist environments. As an organism, mould plays a pinnacle in the ecosystem by breaking down dead organic matter such as dead leaves, plants, insects or any natural biodegradable substance.
Mould will appear on any damp, warm surface and work its way down, digesting any organic material by releasing its enzymes, allowing the mould to grow and spread. Mould is a naturally occurring process to help the ecosystem, however, when it finds its way indoors and is left untreated, it will break down any organic material such as wood, food, and non-synthetic fabrics. Mould, however, can also grow on inorganic surfaces and spread around any environment that has high moisture levels.
Mould can be identified as commonly green or black in colour with either a fuzzy or slimy texture. Its main distinction, however, is its ability to eat its way through surfaces and work its way down as it continues to grow and spread.
Mould can also travel airborne and release spores that can attach themselves to areas with little aeration and high condensation build up, so it’s important to keep your home as dry as possible. If left untreated, mould can disrupt air quality and pose a health risk for those who frequently breathe in its spores.
What is Mildew?
Unlike mould, while mildew can be found on surfaces, it remains at a surface level without working its way through the material as mould does. It can present itself as white, grey or yellow, and can appear as fluffy or powdery in texture.
Mildew is also a microscopic fungus that thrives from warm, moist and humid environments. Mildew is often confused with mould, even though the term is technically correct and they share many of the same characteristics.
Mildew grows on surfaces and is often found on bathroom tiles and grout, however, it will remain on the surface level and does not penetrate its way down into the material like mould does. It can, however, also travel airborne via spores and attach itself to any areas or surfaces where there is a build up of condensation.
Mildew is often referred to as the “early stages” of its more mature fungi counterpart, mould, and is more easily eradicated by spot removal. However, if left untreated for long periods of time can also become a health risk, especially for those who have underlying respiratory conditions.
How to prevent mould and mildew?
Because both mould and mildew thrive in warm, damp environments, making sure to keep your home dry is paramount in keeping both fungi at bay. Make sure there is regular, fresh air flowing throughout the home, open windows and allow for ventilation in all rooms, especially wet areas including bathroom, ensuites, kitchen and laundries.
If your home is subject to seasonal flooding, leaking pipes or any kind of water damage, ensure that you clean and dry the area as soon as you can. Mould and mildew can start to grow as quickly as 48 hours, so it’s important to make sure you make efforts to dry the area to prevent the likelihood of mould growing and spreading around the home.
Here are some other ways to stop mould from spreading around your home:
- Open windows regularly when the weather permits
- Ventilate areas with high levels of moisture to prevent condensation build up
- Use ceiling and oscillating fans for air circulation
- Dry clothes immediately after washing
- Empty excess water trays regularly i.e. in air conditioners, dehumidifiers
- Operate a dehumidifier in areas with elevated levels of humidity
- Clean flooding, spills and water damage within 48 hours of occurring
Can mould and mildew affect your health?
While mildew is considered as less of a risk than mould, if both are left untreated after extended exposure, they can cause health problems. Long term exposure can affect people differently depending on their pre-existing health conditions. Commonly, symptoms of breathing in mould include:
- Eye irritations
- Allergic reactions
- Coughing or sneezing
- Skin rashes
Those with underlying health conditions such as allergies, asthma, cystic fibrosis, can suffer from more serious symptoms. If you are experiencing severe reactions to mould exposure, please contact your GP or healthcare professional.
When to Call a Mould Removal Professional?
Mould and mildew can be an inconvenience at the best of times, so it’s important to understand their distinctions and seek out ways to stop them from overtaking your home.
If you are afraid of mould becoming a problem in your home and are looking for a long-term solution, be sure to call upon a professional team to help you. The MouldMen team will inspect, treat, and provide you with a Mould Management and Prevention Plan to ensure that your home is kept safe and free from mould. Call us on 1300 60 59 60 or click on the link below to book your free inspection today.