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How Do You Clean A Roof Without Damaging Shingles?

Updated: Feb 7, 2023

Roof cleaning is an important task to keep your roof looking good and to extend its lifespan. However, it is essential to ensure that the cleaning process does not damage the shingles. Shingles are the protective layer on your roof that protects your home from rain, wind, and other weather elements. They are made of various materials such as asphalt, metal, or tile, and each shingle requires a different cleaning method.

Keeping your roof clean can avoid dirt, algae, moss, and other contaminants. But it is vital to do so in a way that does not damage the shingles or the roof's surface.

How Do You Clean A Roof Without Damaging Shingles?

Why Should You Clean a Shingle Roof?

The top of the asphalt shingles is rough and sandy. Shingles are popular among homeowners since they come in a variety of shapes and colors and have a long lifespan. These shingles' rough surface enables dirt, filth, moss, and mildew to build a foothold and grow.

Moss and algae may undermine the surface of shingles, promote the formation of fungus, and cause wood rot in the roof supports if not regularly cleaned. Also, moss and algae develop more quickly on shaded roofs and in more humid areas. Therefore there is a need to clean a roof more often to prevent having to replace your roof shingles every time.

If your asphalt shingles do not look damaged and the roof is in good condition, it does not need to be cleaned. A slight fading is to be expected, but it does not always signal the need for cleaning.

However, if you see the damage, such as black streaks or white lichen splotches, it is time to think about cleaning your asphalt shingles. The black streaks you notice are blue-green algae clusters. So, if you detect large, green patches on your roof, you have a moss issue. And this condition will only go away if you clean the shingles.

If you do not remove dirt, lichen, algae stains, and other roof damage, they can cause several problems, such as:

  • Water damage

  • Shingles aging prematurely

  • Increased chance of blowing away

  • Unattractive appearance and reduces the value of a house.

  • Stains caused by algae growth

How Do You Clean Roof Shingles Without Damage?

Before cleaning your roof, it is crucial to determine what type of shingles. Then you can figure out the type of cleaning solution that is appropriate. Some shingles, such as asphalt, are delicate and susceptible to damage from cleaning agents. Others, such as metal, are more durable and can handle more intense cleaning methods.

Asphalt Shingle Roofs Cleaning: Dos

1. Call A Professional

First, get in touch with an expert. For your roof cleaning assignment, you are strongly advised to work with a qualified, experienced specialist. A professional contractor can help you reduce roof damage and guarantee that it is cleaned safely and efficiently. Contact us for roofing cleaning, maintenance, or replacement services. We can help you identify the best and most reasonably priced option.

2. Take Precaution

Before you clean your roof, check if you can safely walk on it. If yes, put on your slip-resistant shoes. These shoes help prevent slips and fall while cleaning a roof. The soles come with unique materials or tread patterns to provide better traction and stability on slippery surfaces such as a wet or oily roof. Plus, it helps to reduce the risk of accidents and keep the wearer safe while they work.

Likewise, if your roof is slant, use a safety rope to tie yourself to the chimney. Put on safety goggles to prevent algae and debris from your eyes.

3. Soak Plants

After that, ensure that all plant has been thoroughly pre-soaked with water. This procedure makes the plant cells saturated. And when the cells are saturated, the plant will not receive chemical through the leaf layer. However, a post-rinse is still required for further plant protection and safety.

4. Keep Your Gutters Clean

One of the most excellent ways to make sure your roof stays healthy is to clean your gutters. Maintaining a clean gutters system can help to stop roof damage and water overflow, which safeguards your foundation. This includes the downspouts as well.

5. Mix Your Cleaning Agent

Pour and mix your roof cleaning agent in your garden sprayer. For most asphalt shingle roofs, start with a 50/50 mixture. This will guarantee that your solution is "hot" enough to produce a finish to your satisfaction.

Starting from the top of the roof, apply a thin layer of "roof cleaning chemical" as you work your way down. To enable a slower run of chemicals down the top, some people prefer to add 1/4 cup of Gain Green dish liquid (not the laundry detergent) to their mixture. If you allow your active substance to remain moist for a longer time, it can kill the algae.

After five minutes have passed since you applied the initial application of roof cleaning chemical, repeat the process if the algae still exist. You may experience problems with specific fire moss and other overgrown moss. This is because it is a hardier variety of gloeocapsa magma (the black algae).

You may either destroy it or remove it from your roof. Spray it with more chemicals until it becomes white. Or do the same with a hotter chemicals mixture until it goes white and expires. Then, re-soak any plants that may have gained mist or a coating from the Pool Shock solution you just sprayed.

Soaking and washing your plants after applying your chemical ensures they will survive long after your roof cleaning solution has completed its task. You should do this, especially if you have previously gotten over-spray on the plants. - This is an EXTREMELY VITAL STEP! Do not overlook it!

Lastly, use a ladder to safely descend off the roof and let nature take its course. There is nothing further you need to do after applying the chemical - let it do its job. Any leftover debris or roof damage can be carefully removed with a leaf blower.

Asphalt Shingle Roofs Cleaning: Don't

Roof cleaning seems simple, but there are easy ways to damage your roof. As a result, you should avoid the following when cleaning asphalt shingles roof:

  • Apply a spray to the roof from top to bottom. When you spray your shingles from bottom to top, it will force water upward and under them.

  • Avoid using a pressure washer.

  • Do not use harsh chemicals.

  • Do not clean your asphalt shingle roof during winter. This is because excessive amounts of water can freeze. Freezing water does expand and may travel up and under your asphalt shingles.

  • Never leave vinegar or bleach on your roof for an extended period. It may disfigure your asphalt shingles roof permanently or cause early deterioration.

Cleaning Roof Shingles From the Ground

If stepping on your roof shingles may void the warranty, you can clean them from the ground. In this case, a garden sprayer attachment for your garden hose is appropriate. Fill the garden sprayer with chlorine bleach and spray it from the ground. You don't want to spray bleach up and under the shingles, so apply it from top to bottom.

Moreover, if you let the bleach rest on the roof for too long, it may cause damage to the shingles' roof. So, rinse the roof every 15 to 20 minutes with care. Repeat as needed until all the moss and algae fade out.

Best Solution To Cleaning Metal Roofs

Before we go over this step, note that it is best to hire a competent expert to clean your roof shingles. This is because your roof is one of the most expensive assets in your home and must be treated with care.

The first step to metal roof cleaning is to remove debris and tree branches as much as possible. This may include things like sticks, leaves, aand other debris. A blower is a simple way to clear leaves, sticks, and other debris from the roof, and Blowers will gently blow the debris without causing any harm to your roof.

Then, use water then to wash down dirt and dust. We advise you to use a garden hose to reach portions of your metal roof without climbing on top.

Many homeowners wonder, "Can you power wash a metal roof?" The answer is yes, but we do not recommend such. Specifically, if you spray with a power washer too close, it can damage metal roofs.

In addition, apply a mild cleaning agent if there are stubborn stains. We recommend using a 1/4 cup of detergent—such as mild dish soap or car washing soap—with a gallon of water. Then, use a sponge, soft cloth, or soft-bristle brush to apply the solution to your metal roof and leave it there for 5 to 10 minutes.

You may also mix your metal cleaning agent in a pump sprayer. Then, rinse the solution out with plain water.

What Is The Best Roof Shingle Cleaner?

Vinegar is the ideal shingle roof cleaner for several reasons. To start, it is affordable and straightforward to buy. Likewise, you may use it with dish soap to boost its efficiency. For more severe damage, use more vinegar; for a rapid wash, use less. This cleaning agent does not harm paint and neighboring plants. But bleach and commercial "roof cleaners" do.

1. Spray And Roof Cleaners

Additionally, there are several variations of spray roof shingle cleaner. These cleaning agents don't include bleach and don't need to be rinsed. You don't remove it after applying. One problem with these cleaners is that they are more pricey than bleach and can take up to a year to erase stains.

They are healthier alternatives if you want to avoid bleach at all costs. The effects might not be as powerful as bleach, though. But if your roof damage is still minor, consider these items because they are easy.

2. Bleach Solution

Cleaning your asphalt shingles with a bleach solution won't damage your roof and will clear debris and most roof stains. Use the same liquid chlorine bleach you use for washing and mix it 50:50 with water. Spray using a sprayer or garden hose, rest for 20 minutes, and rinse. Although it could need many treatments, this therapy won't spoil your asphalt shingle roof surface.

3. Vinegar

The best way to clean asphalt shingles is to use vinegar, which won't harm them. There are various acetic acid concentrations in store-bought vinegar. Most roof damage may be repaired with 5 percent, but severely discolored roofs may require 25 percent. If using a greater concentration, endeavor to blow and rinse after no more than an hour or so.

Mix dish soap and vinegar. The vinegar will be thicker, preventing it from slipping off the roof. After application, allow it to settle for a few days. So when the damage starts to fade, use a leaf blower to eliminate any challenging moss growth or lichen. If need be, repeat the procedure. Rinse the asphalt shingles well once the damage has been eliminated.


Will Bleach Damage Asphalt Shingles?

The answer is NO. Bleach does not harm asphalt shingles. Instead, bleach kills mold, moss growth, mildew, and algae growth. Also, bleach helps to remove stains, mud, and other debris on the entire roof.

But bear in mind that there is one exception. If you use bleach on a sunny day, it could dry on a roof surface. Thus, wait until it is cloudy outside or later in the day if you need to use bleach to clean your roof.

Furthermore, it is better to rinse bleach with plain water thoroughly, which will help prevent drying and minimize smells. Lastly, bleach chemical cleaners could leave an unpleasant odor behind. Instead of using a bleach-based cleaner, think about something else if you have breathing problems.

Which Chemical Can I Use To Clean Roof?

Contractors may use detergents with a variety of chemicals to clean roof shingles. One reason for using many chemicals is that each one deals with a particular problem with your roof. Also, certain chemicals are more effective than others and may provide a cleaner surface.

Trisodium phosphate, copper sulfate, sodium hypochlorite, and ammonia are common ingredients in chemical roof cleaners. In addition to removing mold and algae, sodium hypochlorite and ammonia work well in preventing their regrowth. Ammonia, however, is too abrasive for metal, particularly copper roofs, and it also has a powerful scent that many find offensive.

Likewise, copper sulfate aids in preventing the formation of mold. Metal roofs and a variety of other materials are also safe. Trisodium phosphate is an effective degreaser for removing dirt, moss stains, and debris from roofs. A roof cleaning professional may mix this active ingredient for a complete clean.

Can One Use A Pressure Washer On A Metal Roof?

Yes, pressure washers can be used on a metal roof. But you need to be very careful and follow the proper safety precautions. Pressure washing with too much pressure or getting too close to the top with the hose can damage the metal and cause it to leak.

Therefore, we suggest you use a pressure washer with a low-pressure setting and hold the spray wand at least 12 inches away from the roof. It is also important to avoid pointing the spray directly at seams, screws, or other areas where water could penetrate the roof and cause collateral damage.

Is It Ok To Pressure Wash A Shingle Roof?

No, pressure washing a shingle roof is not safe. The water pressure is too high and will harm the roof's surface. Granules fall off and enter the gutter, prematurely aging the roof.

The water could harm the roof's structural components. Pressure washing a roof is different from soft washing. You will use a spray to apply a biodegradable cleaning agent that will penetrate your roof's cracks and undersides. After that, you will gently wash it off with a low-pressure sprayer similar to that found in a garden hose.

How Can You Prevent Algae Growth From Your Roof Shingles?

To prevent algae growth on your roof, you can try the following methods:

  1. Keep the roof clean and free of debris.

  2. Install zinc or copper strips along the roof ridge line, as these metals are known to inhibit algae growth.

  3. Use roofing materials that are treated with an algicide, a substance that prevents algae growth.

  4. Increase ventilation and circulation on the roof to reduce humidity, which is a critical factor in algae growth.

  5. Install roof-mounted turbines or other types of roof ventilation systems to improve airflow on the roof.

  6. Apply a roof-cleaning solution specifically designed to kill and remove algae.

  7. Hire a professional roofing contractor to clean and treat the roof.

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