Home Roofing How to Clean Roof Shingles the Right Way

How to Clean Roof Shingles the Right Way

by Michael Blount

Keeping your roof clean is one of the best ways to protect your home’s biggest investment. Over time, mold, mildew, and algae can build up on roof shingles, which not only looks unpleasant but can actually damage and degrade the shingles if left unchecked. Learning how to properly clean your roof shingles is an easy DIY task that pays off in the long run by extending the life of your roof.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about cleaning roof shingles the right way. We’ll go over:

  • The benefits of cleaning roof shingles
  • When you should clean your roof
  • The do’s and don’ts of cleaning roof shingles
  • The best cleaning solutions for different roof types
  • Step-by-step instructions for safely cleaning roof shingles

Follow these tips and you’ll be able to tackle roof cleaning like a pro! Your freshly cleaned roof will not only look great, but will thank you for the care and maintenance.

Why Clean Roof Shingles?

Keeping your roof shingles clean provides some major benefits for your home:

Extends Roof Lifespan

  • Letting mold, mildew, and algae accumulate can actually break down and degrade roofing materials prematurely.
  • Cleaning helps protect shingles from damage caused by moisture buildup and UV rays.
  • A clean roof can last up to 50% longer than a neglected, dirty roof.

Prevents Costly Damage

  • Dirt buildup prevents water from properly running off the roof, which can lead to rot, leaks, and interior water damage.
  • Catching and removing buildup early prevents more expensive repairs down the road.

Improves Curb Appeal

  • No one wants to see streaks of black mold marring the roofline.
  • A freshly cleaned roof looks crisp and professionally maintained.
  • Clean shingles boost your home’s aesthetic and can increase resale value.

Creates a Healthier Environment

  • Mold and mildew release spores that can aggravate allergies and asthma.
  • Removing grime improves the air quality inside and outside your home.

When to Clean Your Roof

Aim to clean your roof shingles at least once a year to prevent major buildup. More frequent cleaning may be needed depending on factors like:

Climate and Weather

  • Homes in damp, humid, rainy, or coastal climates are more prone to mold, mildew, and algae growth.
  • Clean twice a year or more if you live in an area with frequent rainfall.


  • Shaded and sheltered areas of the roof allow more moisture, dirt, and debris to accumulate.
  • Southern exposures that get more sunlight generally need less frequent cleaning.

Roof Age

  • Brand new roofs may only need occasional cleaning.
  • Older roofs should be cleaned annually to keep aging shingles looking fresher.

Tree Coverage

  • Roofs near trees and foliage need more frequent cleaning to remove leaves, twigs, pollen, and other debris.

Aim for cleaning in early spring to remove any buildup from winter, and in late fall to prep for colder months. Avoid cleaning in the hot summer when shingles are more prone to damage and when falls are more likely due to slick shingles.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Cleaning Roof Shingles

To clean your roof safely and effectively, keep these do’s and don’ts in mind:


  • DO exercise extreme caution when working on a roof. Use harnesses, anchors, and ropes to prevent falls.
  • DO inspect your roof for damage before cleaning. Look for cracked, missing, or loose shingles.
  • DO start cleaning from the top down to avoid dripping onto already cleaned areas.
  • DO use mild cleaners labeled for use on roofing materials. Harsher chemicals can degrade shingles.
  • DO thoroughly rinse all cleaning solutions after use. Residue left behind can damage shingles over time.
  • DO clean shingles by hand using soft-bristle brushes if needed. This is gentler than pressure washing.


  • DON’T attempt to clean your roof in wet, rainy, or windy conditions when falls are more likely.
  • DON’T use abrasive tools like stiff brushes or high pressure washers that can scratch shingles.
  • DON’T mix together cleaners like bleach and vinegar that can create toxic fumes.
  • DON’T let any cleaning solutions dry on the roof. Rinse immediately after scrubbing.
  • DON’T walk on your roof unless necessary. Use extendable poles for reaching distant areas.
  • DON’T scrub too aggressively. Let the cleaning agents do most of the work.

Best Cleaning Solutions by Roof Type

The cleaning solution you use should be compatible with your specific roof shingle material. Here are the best options for different roof types:

Asphalt Shingle Roofs

The most common roof shingle in North America is asphalt, made from saturated building paper coated with a layer of asphalt and covered in granules.

Recommended Cleaners:

  • 50/50 bleach and water solution
  • Household detergent (Dawn dish soap works well)
  • Specialty asphalt shingle cleaners

Avoid harsh alkali-based chemical cleaners that can dry out and deteriorate asphalt shingles over time.

Wood and Cedar Shake Roofs

Wood and cedar shake roofs have a classic, rustic look, but require gentle cleaning to avoid damaging the porous, fragile materials.

Recommended Cleaners:

  • Mild soap and water
  • Hydrogen peroxide or sodium percarbonate solutions
  • Oxygen bleach cleaners
  • Low pressure rinsing

Avoid chlorine bleaches, high pressure washing, or abrasive scrubbing which can erode and scrape wooden shakes.

Tile and Metal Roofs

Tile and metal roofs are very durable synthetic materials safe for occasional pressure washing.

Recommended Cleaners:

  • General house siding cleaners
  • Mold and mildew removers
  • Pressure rinse up to 2,000 PSI

Avoid walking on slick metal roofs and take care not to dislodge any loose tiles during cleaning.

Rubber and PVC Roofs

Rubber and PVC roofing is common on flat commercial buildings. These durable membranes stand up well to pressure washing.

Recommended Cleaners:

  • Degreasing agents or chlorine bleach solutions
  • Commercial PVC roof cleaners
  • Pressure rinsing up to 3,000 PSI

Avoid any petroleum-based solvents like mineral spirits that can degrade rubber roofing materials.

How to Clean Roof Shingles: Step-by-Step

Once you know what type of shingle roof you have and the best cleaners to use, follow these steps to properly clean your roof:

Gather Supplies

  • Cleaning solution compatible with your roof type
  • Garden hose with spray nozzle
  • Soft-bristle scrub brush
  • Brooms or roof rakes for debris removal
  • Ladders or roof jacks
  • Fall safety harness and ropes
  • Gloves, goggles, hat, and protective clothing

Prep the Roof

  • On dry day with no rain or high winds, set up ladders and safety lines.
  • Sweep roof with brooms to remove loose debris. Use roof rakes for valleys and peaks.
  • Inspect for damaged areas like cracked or missing shingles. Make needed repairs before washing.

Mix Cleaning Solution

  • Fill bucket or garden sprayer with cleaner according to manufacturer directions.
  • For bleach solutions, mix 1 part bleach to 1 part water.
  • For detergents, use approx 2-3 tbsp per gallon of water.

Clean Roof Zone-by-Zone

  • Start cleaning at the highest point of roof and work down methodically in zones.
  • Wet roof zone to be cleaned, let sit 5 minutes to soak.
  • Scrub gently with brush, avoid damaging granules on shingles.
  • Rinse cleaned zone thoroughly before moving to next.
  • Repeat process over entire roof surface until all zones are cleaned.

Final Rinse and Inspect

  • Perform a final rinse over entire roof to wash away any remaining residue.
  • Inspect roof closely and touch up any spots that need more cleaning.
  • Check the ground for any debris that may have fallen for disposal.

And that’s it! Following these straightforward steps will leave you with a revitalized roof that looks brand new again. Be sure to make roof cleaning an annual ritual to protect your shingles and prevent your home from costly damage. With the right techniques and cleaning solutions, you can easily restore your roof’s condition and maintain its integrity for many more years of lasting protection overhead.

Remember to always put safety first when working on ladders and heights. Take your time and don’t rush the process. It’s far better to clean thoroughly in sections than to risk an accident by rushing up and down the roof trying to power wash everything quickly. Proper roof cleaning pays dividends through added curb appeal, increased home value, reduced repairs, and peace of mind knowing your roof is ready to handle whatever nature sends its way.

So don’t put it off until green and black stains mar the crisp lines of your roof. Schedule annual roof cleaning to protect your investment and prevent deterioration. Your home deserves a clean bill of health from ridge vent to drain spout. With a sparkling, revitalized roof overhead, you can breathe easy knowing your first line of defense against the elements has been restored to its proper functioning.

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