What Does Household Mildew Look Like?

J.E. Cornett

Household mildew is a common problem, identified by its appearance, scent and the location in which it occurs. Knowing mildew when you see it will help you to clean and prevent this pesky problem.


Mildew is a form of mold. Mold is a fungus that grows where there is sufficient moisture, heat and lack of air circulation.


Mildew most often appears as a thin, powdery film that is usually white, gray or black. Some mildew growths appear spots or splotches.


Mildew usually has a musty, damp or "earthy" odor.


Mildew needs a surface that provides enough "food" for this fungus to thrive on and an ideal environment.

Natural fabrics and surfaces provide material for mildew growth; however, mildew will also grow on synthetic or other surfaces that are soiled, with the soil feeding the mildew growth. Mildew grows in environments that are dark and damp with poor air circulation.


Mildew can be prevented by providing light and ventilation to areas where conditions are right for molds to grow, and by keeping items in these areas clean, thereby reducing the amount of food mildew needs to grow.