How to Clean Your Roof

Jeffrey Anderson | Improvement Center Columnist | December 13, 2011

You may not realize there's a problem until it's well underway, but don't be surprised if you look up one day to discover your roof shingles appear to be changing colors. However, in many cases the change isn't being caused by age or weather--it's due to the fungus growing on your roof. Algae is a common problem for shingle roofs and depending on the location of your home--you may also have moss and lichen gradually spreading across your roof's surface. Fortunately, it's a fairly simple task to clean your roof and those shingles can be back to their original color in no time at all.

Cleaning your roof safely

Working on a roof can be very dangerous and doing it while the shingles are wet only compounds the issue. If you decide to clean your own shingles, always follow safety guidelines for ladder use and working in high places. Proper protective gear should be used and there should always be another person present to provide assistance.

Most shingle manufacturers offer recommendations for cleaning solutions that can be used on their products. Prior to purchasing any cleaning products at your local home improvement store, make sure using them isn't going to void your shingle warranty. There are numerous bleach type solutions that can be used for roof cleaning and in most cases they should be diluted with water before being applied. Small vegetable and fruit tree sprayers can be ideal for applying the solutions as they may be strapped to your back and basically permit hands free operation. A few additional tips for roof cleaning:

  1. Choose a cool day to work. Roof shingles can become very hot on a sunny day and the solution may evaporate before cleaning takes place
  2. Mild scrubbing with a brush is okay if necessary to remove tough stains, but take care not to damage the shingles
  3. Wait for the solution to work before rinsing. Times can vary depending on your solution, so follow manufacturer recommendations
  4. Use a garden hose on gentle spray to rinse the solution off your roof. Never use a power washer on your shingles as they can be damaged and even knocked loose
  5. The combination of cleaning solution and water can create a slippery surface, so be careful

Pricing for roof cleaning solutions can vary depending on the manufacturer, type of product you select, and the size of the area you plan to clean. If you have plants and shrubs around the perimeter of your home, take care to choose a cleaner that doesn't damage landscaping.