Bright Exterior Cleaning

Dirty Roof? How to Clean Roof Shingles 101

From time to time, we get asked by homeowners, “How do I clean my roof’s shingles?”

Whether it is the black streaks they see on their roof, or perhaps some roof moss, a dirty roof is an eye sore!

In fact, a roof is the largest exterior feature on a home and surveys show that after a front door – it is the the thing most people see – which makes sense considering how big your home’s roof is.

That being said, today we will explore how to clean roof shingles the proper way, the steps to do so, the possible safety risks, and why it’s worth just having a professional exterior cleaning company do it in most cases!

Other Helpful Roof Cleaning Articles:

What About My Dirty Roof?

The average homeowner might not at first notice, but over time your roof can become littered with algae, streaks, and organic build-up.

It is an issue that is pretty common to overlook, because nobody really knows what’s going on on the roof, because we simply aren’t up there too often, nor should we! 

Discoloration, bird droppings, and normal wear and tear from mother nature can compromise the look of your roof over time and adding fuel to the flame, can undermine its structural integrity overall. Shingles cleaning can be a hassle, because they are not only delicate, but also require a lot of attention that is pretty hard to do alone! 

With Murphy’s law full in effect, whatever can go wrong, will go wrong, and you don’t want to be in a position where a mountain turns into a molehill, nor do you want to put your life in jeopardy, because it is a risky thing to do!

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How to Clean Roof Shingles 101

Cleaning your own roof is not simple! If you’re seriously looking at how to clean roof shingles, keep in mind it will take time, expertise, and proper safety measures.

Note: We advise against any homeowner getting on their roof.

That being said, here are the steps if you insist on doing it yourself!

1. First Get Your Supplies:

  • Ladder
  • Bucket
  • Cleaning Solution (Typically Chlorine bleach and water is the go-to)
  • Pressure washer w/low pressure wash nozzle and syphon tube
  • Safety Goggles 
  • Gloves

2. Next, make your solution:

  • Mix both Chlorine bleach and water in a bucket
  • (This is a step we do professionally as certified exterior cleaners, and we always advise caution mixing soaps, chemicals and surfactants)

3. Put on Safety Gear (Gloves and Safety Goggles) 

  • Refer to the owner’s manual to be better prepared with the right safety equipment and knowledge when handling a power washer even if at low pressure. 
  • Lock and secure ladder by side hinges and ensure footing is not compromised by an uneven surface. 

4. Set-up Pressure Washer:

  • Apply the low-pressure nozzle to the pressure washer (“Roof Soft wash”, more on this later!)
  • Put syphon tube in solution 
  • Turn on power-washer!

5. Spray up and down roof shingles until moss is removed. 

  • Let absorb for 20 min, re-apply if needed.
  • RECOMMENDATION: Results are best when done on a cloudy day! Sunshine can evaporate the solution and limit its effectiveness. 

Dangers of Roof Cleaning

You probably guessed it!

Cleaning your roof is a risk to your health and wellness for no short of obvious reasons, but some people need an extra reminder to be careful. Also, in addition to some of the obvious dangers of roof cleaning like falling, you can actually do more harm then good cleaning your roof, here is what we mean:


Cleaning your roof is a necessity, but that doesn’t mean you should do it yourself! While other forms of power washing can be managed to some degree, roof cleaning is better off left to professionals to handle it in an efficient manner. It’s not a DIY project! Read that one more time.

This is the case, because in the act of pressure washing the shingles on your roof, there is a recoil with each squeeze of the nozzle, even despite the fact that it is a soft wash. This recoil can transfer weight back on you that can result in trips and falls that can induce heavy bodily harm as well as resulting in death.

Due to the inherent risks, this is not the best time to save the day. Instead, the best course of action is to do a comprehensive search of power washing companies in your area to hire someone that fits your needs and budget. It’ll be different for everyone, but everyone should do the same. 

Damaged Roof & Damaged Shingles

The nightmare is here!

Sometimes it comes to the gasping moment that shingles are beyond what can be salvaged and simply need repair. It is easy not to acknowledge an impending reality and have it cleaned, but that could add even more damage to it! 

Sure your wallet will get thinner to replace them, but at the end of the day it is a battle between short-term and long-term thinking. Asphalt shingles are very durable, however, that changes when a highly pressurized amount of water hits them (aka a pressure washer should never be used on a roof).

Roof shingles are notorious for trapping moisture in between the seams of other shingles, which is the catalyst for the growth of moss and mold that slowly eat at the foundation of your roof, and can even cause interior damage just depending on the situation’s magnitude. 

Always to be sure to get a 2nd opinion to assess your situation. A situation can be worse than it appears to be on the outside, so it is important to be able to get it checked out!

Why a Roof Soft Wash Cleaning is Best:

Want in on an inside tip? A soft wash cleaning method is the most quick, efficient, and surface friendly method than the very arduous and time consuming, old-fashion hand scrub approach. While a pressure washer is used, a low pressure setting is essential! Roof shingles are delicate in nature, and will be damaged beyond repair if a high pressure wash is used to clean them!

A proper soft wash will evenly distribute the solution and remove all organic matter across the roof in hard to reach areas and will rinse effectively after the 20 minute wait period has ended, getting the job done! 

Final Word on Cleaning Your Shingles: 

Cleaning roof shingles is not the most sexy thing to do, but hey you might as well have them cleaned and not worry about them down the road, than wait to find out at the wrong time! 

All the organic build-up of moss, mold, foliage, what have you are usually the common culprits that make your roof dirty, and while a real life solution is at your disposal, the means to which it can be dealt with are more serious to consider! By no means, should you attempt this alone due to high risk of accidents and potential harm to your roof. 

Slips and falls are common without proper preventative know-how and roof shingles need unique care and attention than other surfaces. Hire a professional to judge, analyze, and assess what needs to be done on your house, so that you don’t have to waste your time and money, nor risk your life!  

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