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Does Mold or Mildew Smell Sweet? (Quick Answers)

If you come home and find a sweet smell, you should first look at the kitchen. Maybe someone is cooking something delicious! Can’t find the source of the smell? Can mold or mildew cause a sweet smell? What else can cause a sweet or earthy smell? Is it good for your house? 

Keep reading the article to know the answers.

Does mold or mildew smell sweet?

Mold and mildew can have a sweet or pungent earthy smell. Molds are responsible for the musty and earthy-sweet smell. Some mildew can also smell sweet. The sweet odor from molds and mildew indicates that they are spreading spores, which can be hazardous for health and must be taken care of ASAP.

Molds and mildews are two types of funguses with some same and different characteristics. To an average person, they both can look the same. But they are distinguishable by some basic traits.

Mold and mildew can release an earthy sweet smell. Sometimes the odor will seem more earthy, and sometimes, it can smell more on the sweet side. However, as we mentioned earlier, mold is responsible for the sweet smell in the air. 

On the other hand, most mildew smells like rotten wood spirit. Although depending on the species and where the mildew is infecting, they smell can also be sweet sometimes.

They grow on damp surfaces like walls, paper, tiles, wood, clothes, carpets, furniture, insulators, and probably everything with moisture. Those can damage your property and can cause significant health issues. Moreover, if you don’t take care of them early, they can take over your house.

Should you know the difference between mold and mildew? Is it important? It is a big big big YES.

Mold and mildew are essential to recognize as both have different treatment strategies.

 Mildew is easy to get rid of with mildew sprays and scrubbers. On the other hand, molds are pretty dangerous to deal with for the unprofessional. You should obviously hire mold experts to get rid of them. 

Mold does more significant damage to households. But mildew is not that harmful. Both mold and mildew have some negative effects for humans, but mold is associated with some difficult health issues.

The major similarity between them is they both grow in wet and humid conditions. So, controlling your home’s humidity can help you get rid of both of them.

How can you know if your house is infested with mold or mildew? Mold colonies are black to green in color, while mildew colonies can be orange, white, brown, and other colors. Check out if those molds and mildews release a sweet smell. 

House mold:

There are many different types of molds, and most of them can grow in indoor conditions with high humidity. House molds can have a sweet smell, especially when a larger area is infected.

Black mold: 

Many mold species can turn black, but Stachybotrys chartarum is commonly known as black molds. They release an earthy smell most of the time.


Mildew releases a decomposing or earthy smell, but it can also have a sweet smell depending on where they are making their colony. If they infect walls, the scent will be earthy most of the time. If they infect wood or papers, they can have a sweet odor.

What does mold or mildew smell like? 

Mold and mildew smell like rotten wood or earthy-sweet. The odor is not pleasant. If you get those smells, don’t get close to the mold colony to sniff. The spores are quite dangerous to health. 

The spores can cause difficulty breathing, runny nose, skin and eye irritation. If you stay in a house infected by mold and mildew, it can cause more severe health issues like heart problems, brain disease, respiratory problems, depression, etc.

Molds are more harmful to us. Molds cause most of the health issues we mentioned. On the other hand, mildews are not as dangerous as molds. But they can cause allergies, skin and eye irritation, asthma etc.

Is there a mold or mildew that smells sweet?

Many types of molds and mildew can have sweet smells. Black mold often releases a sweet and earthy aroma. There are more than 100,000 types of mold in the world, and it’s kind of impossible to tell which kind of mold is causing the sweet smell.

The sweet smell also depends on the substrate they infest. If they are infesting something made of wood, a sweet smell is more likely to appear. 

Wood is made of cellulose, which is made of carbon bonds. When fungus breaks down the cellulose, glucose and simpler components can be used for energy, those components can cause a sweet smell.

Similarly, mildews can also release sweet smells like molds. In the next section, we will discuss the reasons in more detail.

2 reasons why mold or mildew smell sweet

The exact scientific reason why mold or mildew is not clear. There are thousands of mold and mildew species out there, But based on our research, some factors can affect the sweet smell. Check out the possible reasons for sweet scents.

The mold itself smells sweet:

There can be mold species that have a sweet smell of their own. The scent can appear in different stages of their life. But in most cases, the smell is noticeable when the molds and mildews infect a large area. 

If you find a fungus infection in your house, you should first find out if it is mold or mildew. The infection usually happens in the house’s basement, where moisture can enter the room from the ground.

The spores can smell sweet:

Molds and mildew can fast and produce the type of flower part that stores millions of spores. They release the spores, and the wind takes them to distant places. But indoors, the spores stay within your house. 

The spores can significantly reduce the air quality of your home and can infect other parts of your home. Those microscopic spores can cause a sweet smell when they enter your nose. Even if you destroy all the molds, the spores will stay within your house air. 

Breathing the spores can also cause critical health issues. You must call a professional who knows how to deal with molds.

What kind of mold has a sweet smell?

It’s hard to tell a specific type of mold that causes a sweet smell

There are a hundred thousand mold species. Moreover, the same species of mold can sometimes cause earthy aromas and sometimes have sweet smells. Black mold is a common type of mold and can have a sweet smell.

What does toxic mold smell like?

Most molds are toxic, considering they all can release mycotoxins through the spores. The effects can be even worse if someone eats something infected by molds.
However, toxic molds are not distinguishable by the smell. And try to avoid smelling molds. Don’t let the kids come close to the area affected by molds. Wear a quality mask if you need to.

What does mildew smell like on clothes?

Mildew on clothes can smell like earth or rotten wood. And if you find an earthy smell coming from your clothes, don’t wear them without washing them with powerful detergent. If you have allergies, it can be your worst nightmare, and get sick very severely.

How can you tell if you have mold or mildew?

Mold treatment needs experts while you can remove mildew yourself. Working with molds can be very dangerous, while mildew is relatively safe. Mold dangers more to the household, while mildew needs time to deal significant damage. 

For those reasons, it’s essential to know how to identify them. Here are some tips for identifying molds and mildew.


Molds are primarily black to green in color, while mildew can be yellow, orange, white and many other colors.


Molds have an earthy or sweet smell in general. Mildew can also have a sweet scent, but it is not that common. They both can release decomposing wood-like aromas.


Sometimes dirt in a wall can look like mold and mildew. You can tell if it is a fungal colony or dirt by pouring a few drops of bleach. If it is a fungal colony, the dirty area will clean up slightly.

Health effects: 

If someone gets sick after touching or inhaling fungi, that can be mold most of the time. Mildew is safer generally.

Final Thoughts 

Mold and mildew both can smell sweet but most of the time a mold species causes sweet smell in the air. If a room of your house is infested by mold, wear a protective mask, eyeglass before entering the house. Those fungus are very dangerous for allergic people.