Mold and Mildew, are they the same thing?
This question came up during a recent training I conducted on inspecting for mold problems.
The truth is, both Mold and Mildew are fungi.
Let’s break them down.
Mold (mould) refers to organisms that are made up of a network of branching filaments (called mycelium).
Its frequently found growing on wet building materials; water damaged furnishings and other cellulose-based items
Mildew refers to plant diseases or pathogens that are seen growing on the surface of the host.
Some professionals and Mycologists classify them as almost the same thing.
But to tell you the truth, the only way to unravel this mystery is to have the furry stuff on your wall or walls tested to see what it really is.
Now, this is where it gets interesting, most labs will test samples for mold, bacteria, viruses, and other microbes, but they mildew.
They test for the type of fungi.
Why is that?
Probably because they are the same.
Either way, it can get confusing when trying to determine if mold and mildew are the same things or, if are they’re two different organisms.
In my professional career, I’ve never walked into a home and said, we need to test that to see if it’s mildew.
On many occasions, I’ve heard this comment “that’s not mold, it’s mildew” I’m not a Mycologists, so I can’t make a statement like that.
All that can be done at that point is to take a sample and have it analyzed at the lab. Analytical testing is the only way to say without a doubt what it is.
How To Remove Mold from Painted Wall
Anyone that has a moisture of humidity problem in their home will end up having mold on the walls.
That is unless you took the right steps to fix the moisture problem.
If you have mold growing on your walls, like most people, you probably cleaned it with bleach or some other mold removal product.
However, to your surprise, it came back days later.
If the growth returned, you probably didn’t fix the moisture problem correctly the first time around.
Mold growing on painted walls can be resilient.
If you fail to get rid of the moisture source, it will keep coming back no matter how many times you try to clean it or paint over it.
The regrowth happens because chemicals applied often will not penetrate deep below the surface where the roots continue to grow.
When the roots keep getting a constant moisture source, the mold continues to develop.
Applying mold removers is only a temporary measure and only stops mold development when the killing agent stays active.
Once the killing agent evaporates, the regrowth will just happen again and again. That is until you find and stop the moisture source.
Cleaning Mold From A Painted Wall With No Water Damage
The first step in cleaning moldy walls or ceiling areas is to take the appropriate safety precautions.
While mold may not affect everyone, some individuals can have adverse allergic reactions to even small amounts of mold exposure.
Individuals like infants, elderly, persons with weak immune systems, and people with chronic respiratory problems.
If you plan to clean molds, even small amounts found in your home, take the right safety precautions. Make sure you wear gloves, N95 mask, and eye protection.
After you fix the moisture problem, do a visual inspection to see how much of the wall is affected.
Things You Will Need:
- Liquid detergent (like Dawn)
- Scrub brush or
- Vacuum with a HEPA filter
- N95 Respirator
- Fan or dehumidifier
- Goggles for eye protection
- Dry cloth
This cleaning method is for removing molds from walls and ceiling areas affected by surface growth only.
Not for areas where drywall and components are damaged by mold and moisture.
Before starting the process, put on your gloves, mask and eye protection.
- Open windows to allow ventilation.
- Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to carefully remove any mold spores on the surface. HEPA vacuums contain filters that are capable of trapping extremely small particles such as mold spores. This will stop mold spores from dispersing into the air.
- Once the wall has been vacuumed; begin by applying the detergent to the brush or directly on the surface.
- Begin to scrub the area. Avoid oversaturating the wall because it will take longer to dry
- After the molds have been removed from the surface, dry the area with a cloth.
- An added step you could take is to clean the area by wiping it with sanitizers like Lysol disinfectant wipes. This helps to kill any remaining spore on the surface of the wall.
- Dry the area again with paper towels or cloth. It is normal to still see some stains on the surface of the wall at this stage.
- Place a fan next to the wall and allow the area to dry. This ensures that there is no remaining moisture on the wall from the cleaning process.
- After 24 hours, assess the area and repeat the process if necessary.
- After the wall has been dried, some stains will still be visible. At this point, the wall can be repainted. The molds will not resurface if the source of the initial moisture problem has been repaired.
How To Remove Mold from Cement (concrete, cinder blocks)
By now you probably already know that mold can grow on almost any surface when the conditions are just right.
Concrete inside your basement or on your back patio is no exception to this rule.
If it has damp conditions and a food source, it will grow at an alarming rate.
Dirty concrete surfaces like patios that don’t dry out rapidly because it’s in a shaded area, can be the perfect area for mold to grow.
When mold begins to grow on concrete surfaces, it looks black, green or a bunch of other colors; it also can produce a strong earthy musty smell.
Mold growing on concrete inside or outside can pose a risk to your health.
Indoor, it’s a well-known fact that mold spores can be bad and impact an individuals health.
Some people have mold allergies and can have severe reactions, especially those that have respiratory conditions or a weak immune system.
When mold grows on concrete on concrete outdoors, there is also a risk to your health.
If you leave mold growing on a concrete surface outside your home, you could slip and fall on the growth.
This is because the surface of the concrete will become slippery when the mold growth covers enough surface area.
No matter where it begins to grow, the best thing to do is to remove it and try your best to keep the concrete as clean and dry as you can.
Here are some items you will need to remove mold from concrete inside your home.
Things You Will Need:
- Liquid detergent (like Dawn)
- Scrub brush or stiff-bristled broom
- N95 Respirator
- Fan, heater or dehumidifier
Use these steps to clean mold from cinder block or concrete in your home:
- First, make sure you find and repair the water or moisture issue
- Put on safety equipment (gloves, N95 mask, and eye protection).
- Use a water extraction vacuum to remove any excess water on the surface of the concrete or cinder blocks.
- For molds on the surface of the wall, mix detergent and water solution and clean the area with a scrub brush.
- After scrubbing the wall, vacuum the area again with the water extraction vacuum.
- Expedite the drying process by placing a dehumidifier, fans, and heaters next to the wall. Allow the wall to dry out for a minimum of 24 hours.
- If the area is not dry after 24 hours, keep the fan, heater or dehumidifier in place for an additional 24 hours.
- After the area is dry, the wall can be sealed with appropriate wall covering such as paints or waterproofing compounds.
If you’re like most homeowners, you take pride it the curb appeal of your home.
And nothing is more of a pain than having unsightly and unhealthy mold growing on your patio, driveway, sidewalk or on concrete walls outside your home.
Mold grows in these areas because they become shaded with trees or it could be the position of your home.
If sunlight is unable to hit these areas during the day to dry the concrete out mold will develop and can be a pain to clean frequently
Here I’ve listed some solutions to help you get rid of mold on the concrete outside your home.
Here are a couple things you’ll need:
- Pressure washer with the concrete cleaning nozzle
- Exterior concrete cleaning solution – I would recommend getting an eco-friendly detergent that won’t kill your grass or shrubs
- Goggles or face shield – eye protection
- Rubber gloves if needed
Simple mix the cleaning solution as recommended by the manufacturer:
- Mix the detergent with the right amount of water
- Fill the tank on the pressure washer to the correct level
- Begin to pressure wash the affected area. Here’s a tip: hold the nozzle about 10-12 inches from the concrete. You can avoid any streaks by pressure washing with even overlapping strokes.
Finally, if you want to stop the mold from growing on your sidewalks, driveways, and exterior walls of your home, consider trimming or pruning your trees to allow sunlight to hit these areas during the daytime.
Doing so will significantly help to stop mold growth in these areas.
Is bleach, baking soda or vinegar better to kill mold on a wall?
Lets look at each individually.
Most homeowners believe that using bleach on walls, will kill mold and solve their problem.
But that’s far from the truth.
Even the EPA recommends against using bleach for routine removal of mold from walls and other porous surfaces.
Bleach can remove mold found on hard plastic, metal, and another non-porous surface.
But you should always be cautious when using bleach or other biocides because they can be worse than the mold itself.
Using bleach on walls is ineffective.
This is because the chemical makeup of bleach prevents it from penetrating below the surface of the wall where the roots of the molds are located.
When you apply bleach directly to mold on a wall, it may kill the spores and growth on the surface.
However, it will have little to no effect on killing the root system growing below the surface of the wall.
Spraying bleach on a wall with mold will be like watering your grass.
Remember this, whenever you see mold growing on an item, the roots have already been established deep below the surface of the material.
I can tell you first hand what will happen when you try to use bleach to clean mold from the surface of a wall- a porous material.
It comes right back every time if you don’t fix the problem in the first place.
So, to sum it all up – Don’t try to use bleach to clean mold from your walls.
The mold will just resurface after a couple days. It is effective however on some materials like hard plastic, metal, and other non-porous surfaces.
When it comes to cleaning mold found on the walls in your home, many people will say that vinegar is the best and safest thing to use.
There is some good science behind this claim.
In case you didn’t realize, vinegar is an acetic acid with pH levels ranging from 2–3.
It’s used in homes as a cleaning agent because of its antibacterial and antifungal properties.
Vinegar may not be as effective as some common cleaners like bleach, but it is a safer alternative.
It doesn’t release toxic fumes and mists in your home that can cause you to have irritant reactions like burning eyes, coughing, and other health problems.
Vinegar can be effective in breaking down molds and eventually killing it.
The key is the contact time and using a little elbow grease.
Disinfectants like vinegar can kill most of the mold on a surface after about 10 – 30 minutes.
But you still need to scrub the area to break down the slimy growth areas. Scrubbing the area will allow the vinegar to get to work faster.
Using vinegar to remove mold is a quick and easy solution when it comes to removing small amounts of molds.
Using baking soda has some benefits when attempting to remove surface growth.
Baking soda or sodium bicarbonate has a pH of around 8-8.1, which creates an alkaline environment.
Mold will not grow or thrive in an alkaline environment.
So, you can use baking soda as a disinfectant. Also, it is effective in breaking up the slimy structure of molds.
The coarse crystals, when mixed with water, creates a past that is a good scrubbing agent for mold removal.
So what’s the best thing to use?
I would say it depends on the surface you’re attempting to clean, and your goal.
But it seems that using vinegar is a far safer and effective solution to common removal of household mold.
A certified Environmental Health & Safety professional who has performed successful mold investigations and remediation projects for years.