Mold and mildew are two terms that are often used interchangeably. While they have similar characteristics, they are not the same organism. They are both commonly found in damp or humid areas. Unlike mildew, mold can be found on foods such as bread, cheese or those long-forgotten leftovers in the back of the refrigerator, but this is by no means the end of the distinctions between the two.
Can Mold and Mildew Cause Health Problems?
Both are known to cause or exacerbate respiratory illnesses such as asthma or sinus problems; however, mold poses a greater threat of complications, particularly in infants, small children, the elderly or those with immune ailments. Certain derivatives of mold, such as those found in penicillin and anti-rejection drugs used to treat organ transplant patients, are known to have medicinal benefits to both humans and animals. Some foods, for example blue cheeses (such as Roquefort and Stilton) or Camembert, require mold in order to develop their flavor.
What Do Mold and Mildew Look Like?
Mold and mildew are both members of the fungus family, though mold is typically found in a range of colors (it may appear in shades of green, red, black or even blue) whereas mildew is most likely to appear white or gray in color. Both organisms give off an odor; mold commonly smells foul, while mildew’s scent is more earthy.
Where Do Mold and Mildew Grow?
Mold only grows in areas with a lot of moisture or high humidity; though mildew also prefers this type of environment, it can grow on many different surfaces. Mold is most often found on organic matter such as food or plants, whereas mildew can thrive on a nonorganic surface such as plastic or synthetic fabric. On plants, you may have one of two different types; powdery mildew tends to thrive on flowering plants and trees, while downy mildew is more common in agricultural plants and crops such as potatoes and grapes. Mildew can also grow on fabrics such as clothing or furniture and paper, especially when the surrounding area is prone to high humidity. You’ve likely noticed mildew on your shower curtain before; a bathroom, with its tendency toward dampness and poor ventilation, is an example of the conditions it prefers.
How Do I Get Rid of Mold and Mildew?
When you have an infestation of mold or mildew in the home, there is a simple method to clean and sanitize the area; use a solution of one part bleach to ten parts water and allow it to soak the affected area for approximately twenty minutes. Take precautions to protect yourself from both the cleaning solution and the mold or mildew; it is wise to wear rubber gloves, goggles and a dust mask to prevent illness. Both mold and mildew can be prevented by maintaining cleanliness in damp areas and the use of dehumidifiers to keep them from thriving. Adequate ventilation is key to keeping mold and mildew at bay.