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What Does Black Mold Look Like?

May 18, 2022

Uh-oh there’s a gross-looking growth and a musty smell in your bathroom.

What does black mold look like?


It’s enough to strike fear into the heart of any homeowner: the tell-tale black splotches that indicate you have a mold growth.

And if you’re like most people, it may send you into a downward spiral of panic. What does black mold look like? How can I tell the difference between mildew vs mold? How do you get rid of it? Do you have to check yourself into the hospital now?

Don’t worry! Here are some tips on how to identify (and get rid of) black mold.


What Is “Black Mold”?

There is no official mold spore that is officially labeled “black mold.” Usually, when people talk about harmful “black mold,” they are referring to the species known as Stachybotrys chartarum.

Unlike most molds, S. chartarum requires an environment that is very high in relative humidity—roughly 90%. As a result, it is typically only found in homes with recent flooding or water damage.

Young woman wiping nose with tissue

A S. chartarum exposure is generally believed to include symptoms such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Cognitive Impairment
  • Depression
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Imbalance Issues
  • Joint & Muscle Pain
  • Swelling

Upper respiratory symptoms may also occur from exposure to any mold for those with a mold allergy. These include things like cough, congestion, and itchy eyes/throat and do not necessarily indicate the presence of toxic “black mold.”


Is Black Mold Harmful?

Most of the time, when people ask, “What does black mold look like?” what they are really asking is, “Am I dealing with toxic mold?”

Most of the time, the answer is: probably not.

The fear of black mold arose in the 1990’s, but recent studies have been unable to find a strong link between S. chartarum and the symptoms believed to be “black mold toxicity.”

So, nothing to worry about, right?


Just because black mold isn’t posing any serious danger to your health doesn’t mean it’s completely safe for your home. The moisture and organic material that make such a great environment for mold are also the perfect conditions for decay fungi. These fungi spores essentially eat your home from the inside out.

Not a pretty picture.

Black mold growing in corner of wall

What Does Black Mold Look Like?

When mature, S. chartarum appears black or even greenish in color, but it starts out as fuzzy white or gray spores. Most homeowners typically overlook black mold at its early stage of development, but a growing black mold colony may have a perimeter of fuzzy whitish gray spores around the edge.

Due to its high moisture requirements, you are more likely to find black mold in or around plumbed areas of your home—such as kitchen or bathrooms—or areas where there was a recent flood or water damage.

Wood, drywall, and fabric are very susceptible to S. chartarum when they are wet, as the moisture and organic material provide the colony with plenty of food. These materials are also porous, which allow plenty of footholds for the mold spores’ roots.

If the area is still wet (and the mold colony is alive and thriving), the mold may take on a shiny or even slimy appearance. If the moisture has since dried up, the black mold may look dry and powdery.


How To Get Rid of Black Mold

Regardless of whether you’re dealing with S. chartarum or any other mold species, you need to take steps to properly rid your home of any mold infestation you discover.

However, it’s never as easy as picking up a bucket of mold-killing primer and a bottle of bleach and moving on with your day. The only way to completely get rid of mold is to have the professionals do it.

Mold spores are incredibly tiny, resilient, and mobile. Spores can be airborne indefinitely and can go dormant for hundreds of years. Addressing the moisture may be the first step to keep mold from spreading, but it isn’t enough to defeat it completely. Once it comes into contact with moisture again, the colony is back in business.



Having black mold in your house may not be as dangerous as most people think, but it is a frightening prospect. Luckily, the experts at Axel Works have the knowledge, resources, and expertise to take care of mold infestations once and for all.

However, the best way to get rid of black mold is by preventing it in the first place. Call us at the first sign of water damage so we can dry your home out and prevent issues like mold and rot before they start.

We are vetted by major insurance companies and can be at most locations in as little as two hours.

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