Everything You Didn’t Want to Know About Mold and Mildew

everything you didn’t want to know about mold and mildewHere at Project X Restoration in Denver, we want to share everything you didn’t want to know about mold and mildew. Sure, the topic is ugly and gross but it is a common problem that can cause damage to your home and create health issues for you and your family.

Mold and Mildew, Are They Different?

Mold and mildew are similar, but mildew is actually a specific form of mold. Mold is kind of fungus that grows in black and green patches and has the ability to penetrate surfaces. Mildew only remains on the surface and can be wiped away and removed fairly easily.

Mildew usually grows on damp surfaces and organic materials. Mold, on the other hand, grows in walls, crawl spaces, food, and permanent structures. Mildew is easier to clean, so it can be a do it yourself project. Mold should be cleaned by a professional mold remediation company.

Kinds of Mildew

Mildew is actually considered to be a plant disease that often causes damage to crops, though it does grow on other surfaces, including those in your home. It comes in powdery and downy forms. Powdery mildew first appears as gray and/or white splotches that slowly become yellowish brown or black. Downy mildew varies in appearance depending on the surface where it grows. Generally, this mildew begins as yellow spots that eventually turn brown.

Types of Mold

Though there are well over 10,000 types of mold, most household mold is generally one of the following five common kinds.

  • Alternaria is often found in showers, on walls, under sinks, and in generally damp areas. This is the kind of mold that is frequently found in buildings that have suffered water damage. This mold is wooly or has a down-like texture and can be black, gray, or dark brown. Long-term exposure to this mold can cause asthma or allergic reactions.
  • Aspergillus is the most common indoor mold. This mold can cause allergic reactions, as well as respiratory infections, and lung inflammation in people with weakened immune systems. This mold can be gray, brown, yellow, green, white, or black and often grows on insulation, walls, paper products, and clothing.
  • Cladosporium grows in cooler areas, which is unlike other molds that prefer warmer environments. This mold tends to grow on fabrics (such as curtains and carpets) and wood surfaces (such as wood floors and cabinets). It is characteristically black or olive-green and has a strong musty odor. This mold is known to cause a number of respiratory problems.
  • Stachybotrys chartarum is typically referred to as black mold (because it generally black only) and can be quite dangerous. This mold produces mycotoxins which can cause severe health problems including asthma, chronic sinus infections, fatigue, depression, breathing problems, and allergy issues. It has a characteristic musty odor and grows easiest in areas that are constantly damp—such as air conditioning ducts, leaky pipes, or other places that aren’t ever dry.

Is It Mold or Mildew?

Examining the characteristics of mold and mildew can help you identify which one has invaded your home. Mildew grows in a flat pattern and appears to be powdery or fluffy. Mold is usually fuzzy or slimy in appearance and has irregular shapes spots. If you are not sure which one you are dealing with you can test them using the following methods.

  • Home testing—Place a few drops of bleach on the area. Wait five minutes and inspect the space with the bleach. If the area looks lighter, then the issue is mildew. If it remains dark, then you have a mold issue. If you have a mold issue, you will want to consult a professional service, such as Project X Restoration in Denver. Because mold infiltrates through surfaces and will damage structures internally, removal is not easy.
  • Professional testing—Mold is better tested and treated by a professional. A professional will be able to ascertain what remediation and removal services would be best. Additionally, all the steps can be performed safely to avoid additional exposure or potential spread of mold spores.


The most efficient way to prevent the growth of mold or mildew is to keep all the areas of concern dry. Humidity levels lower than 40-50% are best. If your space has higher levels of humidity, a dehumidifier is helpful for maintaining lower humidity levels. Regular inspections of your heating and cooling systems and air ducts will help ensure that the airflow is maintained. Also, be sure to fix any leaks and address any moisture issues as soon as you see them. The sooner you fix them, the less likely mold and mildew will have a chance to grow.


Mold clean up is best left to professionals for a variety of reasons. Cleaning up mold improperly can lead to the spread of mold spores—either spores that get left behind or spores that spread as a result of the removal. Using a professional for mold removal is important.

If you know for sure you have a mildew issue and not a mold issue, it can be something that you may be able to manage on your own. Again mildew only lives on the surface of items so this means that mildew does not require special removal. Because it can still cause health issues, it is good to be sure that the mildew is being removed while the area is well ventilated and whoever is cleaning the area is wearing a facial mask.

Now that you know everything you didn’t want to know about mold and mildew, contact us at Project X Restoration, if you are dealing with a mold or mildew problem that needs professional attention. We can take care of the cleanup, help identify the source, and help you prevent a reoccurrence.  We can remove your mold or mildew issue safely and effectively and help you protect your family from the health issues that can be created from the very common problem.