When you see dark spots on your windowsill or shower curtain, you likely aren’t thinking about biology class. It doesn’t matter what it is—it’s gross, and you want it gone. That’s a fair response given how dangerous those dark spots can be. More often than not, they’re either mold or mildew, both of which impact how clean your home’s air is.
What makes both mold and mildew particularly concerning are the health risks associated with decreased air quality. Both types of fungi can make it difficult to breathe and irritate your eyes in addition to causing sore throat, sneezing, and rashes. Furthermore, both mold and mildew can cause fatigue and confusion, with some of the most dangerous strains causing respiratory issues such as internal bleeding.
Luckily, it’s not time to move out and start all over when you see mold or mildew. While both fungi pose health risks, particularly in terms of air quality, they aren’t impossible to eliminate. With the right plan and a quality air purifier, your home can have clear air again in no time.
Understanding Mold and Mildew
Mold and mildew are both common types of household fungi. Mildew tends to be gray or white, while mold tends to be black or green. Mildew also has a much weaker smell than mold, with the scent of mold being extremely strong and musky. It’s also rather easy to tell mold and mildew apart, as mildew merely grows on the surface of an object (such as on the side of a shower wall) while mold will spread into every crevice available (such as into walls and floorboards).
In general, mold is far more dangerous than mildew. Mildew doesn’t spread as easily and releases fewer spores into the air, meaning it doesn’t have as great of an effect on air quality. Furthermore, it can be easily eliminated with household cleaners such as bleach, whereas mold is much more persistent and often requires a specialized approach to remove.
Both mold and mildew release spores into the air, also known as particulate matter. These invisible particles impact how clean the air is, eventually reaching the inner workings of our lungs. Once in our lungs, both mildew and mold can cause severe respiratory issues in addition to allergic reactions. When children and the elderly are constantly sick, mildew and mold in the home are often to blame.
It’s important, however, to note that mildew causes a much weaker allergic reaction than mold. This, coupled with the ease of eliminating mildew, means that it isn’t a subject of concern for most homeowners. When it comes to clean air, you should worry most about the presence of mold in your home and the impact it has on air quality and your health.
How Mold and Mildew Grow
Mold and mildew require a perfect environment to truly thrive. In order to grow throughout your home, mold and mildew need air, water, food, and temperatures above freezing. As a result, they most often grow in damp areas such as windowsills and bathrooms. The most common “food” sources for mold include wood, fabrics, and other materials that can hold moisture whereas mildew will most often grow on ceramic tiles and shower walls. To eliminate either mold or mildew, you have to eliminate one of their four requirements for growth. Most often, cutting off access to water is the easiest approach.
Initially, it can be difficult to realize that mold or mildew are infesting your home. In fact, it’s not uncommon to suddenly realize that the fungi has spread throughout large portions of your home, greatly impacting air quality. One of the first signs is a strong, musty scent. If your home consistently smells damp, there’s a good chance that mold is growing.
Mold will generally be darker than mildew and have more fuzz. However, mold can also be red and green, meaning you shouldn’t take any growth likely. Many people ignore mold infestations because they appear to be small-scale or look similar to dirt, and this allows the mold to spread and wreak havoc on how clean your home’s air is. It’s also important to note that mold extends beyond what you can see, often growing inside walls and fabrics. Both should be cleaned as soon as possible.
Tackling the Effects of Mold and Mildew on Air Quality
If you’re lucky, you’ve caught the mildew or mold in its early stages. You can’t smell it yet and it hasn’t spread through the house—you simply looked down one day and noticed the dark spots. If that’s the case, you can usually eliminate the problem before it starts. Using bleach mixed with water, just scrub the affected area and then be sure to keep it dry. Check back regularly for any new growth.
However, mildew and mold can be more disastrous than they first appear. If you’re already smelling their presence or are seeing large patches, it’s time to bring in a professional. An expert can check every crevice of your home for mold and mildew, stopping both fungi in their tracks. Unchecked, the mildew and mold can continue to grow and infest your house, eventually causing serious health concerns due to a lack of clean air is available.
Hiring an expert can be expensive, however. It’s not uncommon for a full inspection and cleaning to cost thousands of dollars. Mold and mildew can make their way into your walls, attic, crawl space, and more. As a result, searching for and eliminating the infestation is no small task. That’s why it’s best to take preventative measures to ensure your home never gets infested in the first place.
Ensuring Mold and Mildew Never Get the Chance to Grow
Mold and mildew rely on moisture to thrive, so eliminating sources of indoor moisture in your home can make a world of difference. Invest in water-resistant building materials, ensure your home is well-ventilated, and regularly check and wipe down moisture-prone areas such as bathrooms and windowsills. It may be worthwhile to consider mold-resistant insulation and paint coats, as both can save you a lot of time and money in the long run.
Of course, no approach is fool proof. Mold and mildew are persistent, and if there’s an opportunity to grow, they’ll take it. As a result, you should be prepared for the health effects of a mildew or mold infestation at any time. Consider investing in a high-quality air purifier. The right air purifier can ensure you always have access to clean air, even in the presence of mildew and mold. This can greatly mitigate the effects of a potential infestation.
Furthermore, a strong air purifier can make a world of a difference following a mildew or mold infestation. Even once the fungi are removed, the harmful spores that work their way throughout the air and into your lungs remain. The right air purifier can clean the air around you, making sure those spores don’t get the chance to do their damage.