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The Complete Guide to Cleaning Your Roof

There are some things you clean regularly. Laundry, the dishes, and your pearly white teeth all jump to mind. Cleaning these things is a matter of habit, and most people need little reminding to scrub a plate or throw their underwear through the rinse cycle.


But what about your roof? Most people don’t have a regular cleaning schedule set for their house topper. If their roof gets cleaned at all, it’s either out of necessity (a nasty algae problem is the most common culprit) or it happens incidentally in the rain and wind.


The truth is, cleaning your roof is no less important than cleaning your gym shorts (although you don’t need to do it quite as often). In this guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know about keeping your roof clean and, more importantly, healthy.

What are the Benefits of Cleaning Your Roof?

They say the two things you can count on are death and taxes. We’d like to propose a third item to be added to that list: age. Just like everything else, roof shingles age, becoming less attractive and less effective. Blazing sun, rough winds, and driving rain year after year will take its toll on a shingle as surely as anything else.


The most common reason homeowners want to clean their roof is because algae and moss have left dark stains on their shingles. Beyond being an eyesore, stains like this lower the curb appeal of your home and affect its resale value. In fact, most homeowners take a special interest in cleaning their roofs when they’re trying to line up a sale. 


Of course, there’s no reason to wait— algae that has been clinging to shingles for years will leave deeper, more stubborn stains. Regular cleaning prevents the buildup of these dark spots and makes them easier to remove. We recommend getting your roof cleaned once per year. You can do it yourself, or enlist the help of a professional service to ensure quality work. 

What Tools Do You Need for Roof Cleaning?

When contemplating a roof clean, many homeowners reach for the pressure washer. But aggressively spraying your roof down with a high velocity pump isn’t the best way to go about the roof cleaning process. While pressure washers are remarkably effective at cleaning everything from siding to sidewalks, the force they generate can be too much for a roof. For now, leave the pressure washer where it is.


Instead, grab a garden hose attachment like the kind used for fertilizing your lawn. These can likely be found in your local hardware store or garden center— if not, they’re very easy to find online.

How Do You Prepare to Clean Your Roof?

Many homeowners use a solution of equal parts chlorine bleach and water to clean their shingles. This is an effective strategy, but the runoff can wreak havoc on the plant life below. That’s why it’s crucial to lay the appropriate groundwork before beginning the roof washing process. Plastic tarps are a great way to protect your landscape from the harsh chemicals. If you plan to wash the runoff into your gutters, make sure to position a bucket or some other receptacle at the base of the downspout. To minimize the risk to their plants, some homeowners prefer to use specialized roof cleaning solutions. These are typically more environmentally friendly, and might be kinder to your flower beds.


Your plants aren’t the only ones who need protection! Be sure to minimize the bleach solution’s contact with your skin by wearing gloves, long pants, and covered shoes. Eye protection is also recommended.


A roof can be a dangerous place. If your roof is particularly steep or more than one story high, we recommend leaving the cleaning process to a professional. If you do decide to do it on your own, however, wear shoes that fit well. Slip-resistant soles are a must!


Lastly, plan for the weather. While you don’t want to be caught on top of your roof in the rain, it’s equally undesirable to do this work in direct sun. The bleach and water solution will evaporate more quickly in the heat, reducing the effectiveness of your cleaning. Try to clean on an overcast (but rainless) day with moderate temperatures.

How Do You Clean Your Roof?

Using your sprayer, cover the roof with the bleach and water mixture, paying special attention to the darkest areas. Allow the bleach and water mixture to sit on your roof for 15 to 20 minutes, then gently wash it off with clean water.


If the stains and algae aren’t immediately removed, don’t worry. It takes a bit of time for the bleach to have a full effect. Subsequent wind and rain will loosen the remaining algae, and the stains will fade over the next couple days.

The Bottom Line:

Cleaning an asphalt roof is a simple way to improve the aesthetics of your home. On top of that, regular cleaning will save your shingles from the deleterious effects of algae and moss. With the right preparation and proper safety precautions, homeowners can easily keep their roof looking beautiful and stain-free all year round!


For homeowners who want to avoid the hassle of a yearly cleaning, check out our blog on algae-resistant shingles. They’re an excellent way to ward off roof growth, and you get to keep both feet planted solidly on the ground. Contact your local roofer to see what shingle options are available to you.

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