Photograph: typical mold on basement drywall after a basement flooding event - © Daniel Friedman Building Mildew Mistakes
Mold in buildings is Often Mistaken for Mildew - a plant fungus

  • MILDEW ERRORS, IT's MOLD - CONTENTS: Photographs of Mold Found on or In buildings, Building Contents, Clothing, Baskets, & Artworks: Molds that are Sometimes Mistaken for Mildew. You might think it doesn't matter what you call it but that may be a mistake too.
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about mildew and mildew odors in buildings and on building surfaces - is it really mildew? Probably not.

InspectAPedia tolerates no conflicts of interest. We have no relationship with advertisers, products, or services discussed at this website.

Mildew mistakes: this article discusses how to recognize building mold and how to know that indoors, it's not mildew. We include photographs of a variety of white and green mold growths on clothing, leather, artworks, baskets and building surfaces - all examples of light colored molds that are not mildew (and that are potentially more harmful).

This article describes building mold (black mold, green mold, yellow mold, gray mold, and white mold) that is often mistaken for mildew.

Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2017, All Rights Reserved.

Photographs of Mold Found on or In buildings, Building Contents, Clothing, Baskets, & Artworks: Molds that are Sometimes Mistaken for Mildew

Leather jacket mold not mildew (C) Daniel FriedmanOur photo (left) of white mold on a leather jacket illustrates a fungus that might be mistakenly called "mildew".

Here are photographs of mold on building exteriors, interiors, or building contents.

At this website, other photos of mold on indoor building surfaces may help you recognize mold in buildings, recognize probably-cosmetic mold, and recognize stuff that is not mold and does not need to be tested.

Often an inexperienced mold inspector or consumer may refer to these molds incorrectly as "mildew".

There are mold genera or species that can grow on a remarkably wide range of organic materials that are found both outdoors and inside, and that can appear in an wide range of colors (black, brown, red, green, gray, white, orange, tan, yellow, for example) and textures.

As we discuss in this article series, mildew, a sub-class of molds, is an obligate parasite that grows only on living plants, and is generally white in appearance.

Our page top photograph a severe basement mold contamination in a flooded home found in Poughkeepsie, New York.

More photographs of mold that is often mistaken for or mis-named "mildew" are included in this article and links provide articles that correctly identify mildew as well as explain the difference between mildew and mold.

Smelly carpet mildew (C) Daniel Friedman

Carpet mildew diagnosis: carpeting that has light mold or smells like mold might be described by an inexperienced inspector or a building owner as mildewed carpeting.

If your carpeting smells like "mildew" or "mold" it 's probably moldy whether you can see the mold or not by simple visual inspection.

See CARPET MOLD / ODOR TESTS for details.

Our photo of moldy carpet (left) was taken from a sample of carpeting that was the final target of a building mildew odor diagnosis procedure.

Carpet odors: carpeting that smells can be caused by a wide range of problems.


Carpet stains: can also be caused by a wide range of sources, some of which are harmless, others may diagnose other building problems such as a heating system that is not working properly, or building air leaks. See CARPET STAIN DIAGNOSIS.

Mold on works of art (C) Daniel Friedman Ulrik Runeberg

Mold on works of art: We define "mildew" stains on or in paint at Mildew in paint. In support of museum conservators we have also identified mold growth on as well as in paint in works of art. Mildew is not found on art works.

Our photograph of a painting being examined for contaminants was provided courtesy of museum conservator Ulrik Runeberg, Puerto Rico Art Museum during a joint forensic investigation.

Mold on painted building surfaces or furnishings: We define "mildew" stains on or in paint at Mildew in paint. Look closely at our peeling paint photograph at above left and you can see some black mold on the back surface of an old layer of exterior paint exposed by our peel-back of blistered paint on a wood clapboard wall. More black mold is visible on the exposed wood surface too.

Our micro-photograph of a cross-section cut moldy paint (below right) shows black mold growth inside the layer of paint sampled from a surface. It's mold, not mildew.

Our high-resolution microscope photograph (below) of mold found on exterior wall paint confirms that this is a mitosporic fungi, not mildew.

Photograph of paint failure details Paint lab Photograph of failed paint sample chip (C) Daniel Friedman

A closeup microscopic photo of mold found on building wall paint is shown here.

Paint lab Photograph of sample of failed paint

Our high-resolution microscope photograph (above) of mold found on exterior wall paint confirms that this is a mitosporic fungi, not mildew.

Mold or algae on roofs: We discuss stains mistaken for mildew on building roofs at Catalog of Black Roof Stains.

Photograph of possible asphalt shingle bleed-through or extractive bleeding on asphalt roof shingles (C) Daniel Friedman

Mold on a Leather Jacket or on Clothing

In our forensic lab we confirmed that this "mildewed" leather jacket was actually contaminated with Aspergillus versicolor - it was moldy, not mildewed even though the owner naturally used that term to describe the odor.

Leather jacket mold not mildew (C) Daniel Friedman

Clothing that smells like "mildew" is moldy and can usually be restored by laundering or dry-cleaning. Leather garments need to be cleaned by a leather cleaning professional.

Mold on a Woven Laundry Basket

This "mildewed" laundry basket found in Mexico was mold-contaminated but although the basket was made of plant material, this black mold was not mildew. (Samples are on hand for further laboratory analysis.)

Moldy laundry basket (C) Daniel Friedman

Interestingly the mold grew only on the basket fiber interior surfaces - a side of the plant material that was exposed after the basket reed material was first hand-split for weaving. The harder exterior surface of this bamboo-like plant material did not show much mold growth.

Even using bleach solution (plastic bowl at upper left) we were unable to successfully clean this moldy laundry basket - it was passed on to the trash truck along with other building basura.

Green "Mildew" Reported on Basement Ceiling

Photograph of thick green mold on subfloor over a crawl space

This green "mildew" on basement surfaces was confirmed to be mostly Aspergillus sp. mold.

The white, gray, and green "mildew" found on the underside of this building subflooring and on the floor joists was confirmed in our forensic laboratory as not "basement mildew" but rather a mixture of mostly Aspergillus sp. and some Penicillium sp. molds.

We also often find Trichoderma sp. (another green mold) on wooden subfloors and framing over wet or damp basements or crawl spaces.

Green and gray molds on building surfaces are often mistaken for mildew.

White mold in buildings that is not mildew is very common, found for example on wood surfaces, both painted and raw wood. Our photograph (left) shows white mold on an interior basement door.

White Mold on an interior door

Often we find white or light gray Aspergillus sp. or Penicillium sp. molds on these surfaces, but there are numerous other light colored or white indoor molds that may be present.

White Stuff that is Niether Mildew nor Mold

Other examples of white mold found in buildings that is often mistakenly called "mildew" can be seen at WHITE MOLD PHOTOS.

Effloresence closeup (C) Daniel Friedman

White stuff that is not mold is also not mildew: Beware: many people mistake mineral salts or efflorescence for white mold or mildew.

Efflorescence is a white crystalline salt left on masonry surfaces where water or moisture have been evaporating.

.In general, mold is a term encompassing a very wide family of organisms (the Fifth Kingdom) that includes more than a million and a half species. Lots of molds grow on lots of different organic substances, under a variety of conditions of light and temperature, but all molds require moisture and something organic on which to grow (paper, wood, paint, cloth, leather, plastic, etc.).


Continue reading at MILDEW PHOTOGRAPHS or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.



Or see these

Mildew Articles

Suggested citation for this web page

MILDEW ERRORS, IT's MOLD at - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.


Or use the SEARCH BOX found below to Ask a Question or Search InspectApedia


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Click to Show or Hide FAQs

Ask a Question or Search InspectApedia

Questions & answers or comments about mildew and mildew odors in buildings and on building surfaces - is it really mildew? Probably not.

Use the "Click to Show or Hide FAQs" link just above to see recently-posted questions, comments, replies, try the search box just below, or if you prefer, post a question or comment in the Comments box below and we will respond promptly.

Search the InspectApedia website

Comment Box is loading comments...

Technical Reviewers & References

Click to Show or Hide Citations & References

Publisher's Google+ Page by Daniel Friedman