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Roofs are the first line of defense against the elements, and they come in a variety of materials such as asphalt, wood, metal, and clay. Among these options, roof shingles are particularly popular due to their cost-effectiveness and ease of installation. Additionally, being a homeowner, you will need to clean the roof shingles. Learn in this article about what you should do before cleaning roof shingles, how to clean roof shingles, and extend their lifespan.

What Are Roof Shingles Made Of?

Roof shingles are made from different materials including asphalt, fiberglass, wood, and slate. They are designed to provide years of protection while enhancing the home’s aesthetic appeal with their wide range of colors and textures.

What to Do Before Cleaning Roof Shingles?

Before cleaning, conduct a thorough inspection of your roof for any loose, damaged, or missing shingles. Clear the gutters and downspouts to ensure proper drainage. Safety is paramount, so equip yourself with non-slip footwear, safety goggles, and gloves, and consider using a safety harness.

Use Eco-Friendly Products to Clean Roof Shingles

Opt for environmentally friendly cleaners that are effective against common roof contaminants like mildew, fungus, and algae. Biodegradable products are preferable to harsh chemicals which can damage both your roof and the surrounding environment.

Tools Needed to Clean Roof Shingles

You can’t starts a project without some tools. Here is what you will need:

  1. Safety equipment – It is essential to prioritize safety when working on your roof. You should have a sturdy ladder, work gloves, safety goggles, and non-slip shoes.
  2. Soft bristle brush – A soft-bristled brush or broom will help remove loose debris without damaging the shingles.
  3. Garden hose or pressure washer – Depending on the level of dirt and grime, you can either use a garden hose with a spray nozzle attachment or a pressure washer set on a low setting.
  4. Roof cleaner solution – You can purchase a commercially available roof cleaner solution or make a DIY solution using household items such as water, bleach, and mild detergent.

How to Clean Roof Shingles

In order to clean roof shingles, you will need to follow the steps below:

  1. Start by gently wetting the roof with plain water to cool it down and prevent the cleaner from evaporating too quickly.
  2. Apply the cleaner using a pump sprayer, starting from the peak and working your way down to ensure the solution flows down the roof, covering all areas.
  3. Use a soft-bristle brush to lightly scrub any stubborn areas, but do so with care to avoid damaging the shingle surface.
  4. Rinse off the cleaner with a garden hose, directing the water downward to mimic rainfall, which helps preserve the integrity of the shingles.

Algae and Moss Removal

For roofs plagued with algae or moss, select a cleaner with anti-algal properties and follow up with a preventative treatment to inhibit future growth. Always adhere to the manufacturer’s guidelines to avoid causing damage to the roofing material.

When to Clean Roof Shingles?

A good rule of thumb is to clean your roof every one to two years, but this can vary based on local climate conditions and the presence of overhanging foliage. When deciding if you want to clean it or hire someone, consider your capabilities and the complexity of your roof’s design. While DIY can be cost-effective, professional roof cleaners bring expertise, efficiency, and safety to the job.

The cost for professional roof cleaning services typically ranges between $0.15 to $0.75 per square foot, influenced by factors such as roof size, pitch, and the degree of cleaning required.

How Long Does It Take to Clean the Roof?

Look out for telltale signs like dark streaks, moss growth, accumulated leaves, and branches, or an overall dull appearance, indicating it’s time for a cleaning. The duration of cleaning will depend on the size and pitch of your roof, as well as the extent of dirt and debris present. On average, expect the process to take several hours.

Benefits of Cleaning the Roof

Regularly cleaning your roof not only extends its lifespan but also prevents potential leaks, improves energy efficiency by keeping reflective surfaces functional, and maintains property value. Also, late spring and early fall usually offer the ideal weather conditions to clean the roof shingles. Moderate temperatures and low chances of rain allow for safe and effective roof cleaning.

Maintenance of Roof Shingles

Regular maintenance includes removing overhanging branches, keeping gutters clear, and addressing minor repairs promptly to prevent further damage.

The lifespan of roof shingles can vary significantly depending on the material used, the quality of installation, environmental conditions, and the level of maintenance they receive. Here’s a general overview of the expected lifespans for different types of roof shingles:

Asphalt Shingles

The most common type of roofing material in North America, asphalt shingles typically last between 15 to 30 years. Architectural or dimensional shingles, which are thicker, may last up to 30 years or more.

Fiberglass Asphalt Shingles

 These are a type of asphalt shingle with a fiberglass base mat, known for their durability and fire resistance. They generally have a similar lifespan to regular asphalt shingles, around 20 to 30 years.

Wood Shingles and Shakes

These shingles can last anywhere from 20 to 40 years if made from weather-resistant woods like cedar or redwood and properly maintained. Wood shakes, which are thicker than shingles, might last a bit longer.

Metal Roofing

Metal roofs can last 40 to 70 years, depending on the material. Some premium metals like copper can last over a century.

Slate Shingles

Slate is one of the most durable roofing materials, with a lifespan that can exceed 100 years if the roof is well-maintained.

Composite Shingles

Made from a mixture of materials, composite shingles can mimic the look of wood or slate with increased durability, often lasting 30 to 50 years.

Rubber Roofing

Rubber roofing materials, such as EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer), are used primarily on flat roofs and can last 30 to 50 years with proper installation and maintenance.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors play a significant role in the longevity of roof shingles. For instance, roofs in areas with severe weather conditions—such as high winds, hail, or extreme temperatures—may not last as long as those in more temperate climates. Additionally, roofs that are regularly exposed to direct sunlight or that do not have proper ventilation may experience a shorter lifespan due to increased thermal cycling and moisture buildup.

Regular inspections and maintenance, such as cleaning off debris, repairing or replacing damaged shingles, and ensuring proper attic ventilation, can help maximize the lifespan of your roof regardless of the material. It’s also important to address any issues promptly to prevent minor problems from becoming major ones.

One way to clean the roof shingles is to get on a ladder.

How to Expand the Lifespan of Roof Shingles?

In order to expand the lifespan of roof shingles, there are somethings that need to be done.

1. Regular Inspections

  • Conduct Biannual Inspections: Check your roof in the spring and fall for any signs of damage or wear.
  • Look for Missing, Cracked, or Curled Shingles: These can be entry points for water and should be replaced or repaired promptly.

2. Proper Installation

  • Hire Qualified Contractors: Ensure that your roof is installed by experienced professionals who adhere to industry standards.
  • Use Quality Materials: Opt for high-grade shingles that are suitable for your climate and have a good warranty.

3. Adequate Ventilation

  • Maintain Good Attic Ventilation: This prevents heat and moisture buildup that can cause shingles to deteriorate prematurely.
  • Install Soffit and Ridge Vents: These help to circulate air and regulate temperature in the attic space.

4. Debris and Moss Removal

  • Keep Roof Clean: Remove leaves, branches, and other debris that can trap moisture against the roof.
  • Control Moss and Algae Growth: Use products designed to prevent moss and algae, which can lift and damage shingles over time.

5. Trim Overhanging Branches

  • Cut Back Trees: Prevent damage from falling limbs and reduce debris accumulation on the roof.
  • Reduce Shade Over the Roof: Minimizing shade can slow the growth of moss and algae.

6. Proper Insulation

  • Insulate Your Attic: Proper insulation helps maintain consistent temperatures, reducing the risk of ice dam formation in colder climates.

7. Gutter Maintenance

  • Clean Gutters Regularly: Ensure gutters and downspouts are free of clogs to prevent water backup under shingles.
  • Inspect for Proper Drainage: Make sure gutters are sloped correctly to direct water away from the roof.

8. Addressing Weather Damage

  • Check After Severe Weather: Inspect your roof after storms, hail, or heavy snowfall for immediate damage.
  • Remove Snow Accumulation: In snowy areas, use a roof rake to gently remove snow from the edges of your roof. This will prevent ice dams.

9. Sealant and Flashing

  • Check Sealant and Flashing: Ensure that the sealant around vents and flashing around chimneys or skylights is intact and not cracked.
Environmental factors play a role in shingles and can make them look old and weathered.

Roof Maintenance

Now that you know about cleaning roof shingles, there are a few other areas to take a look at. One of those is power washing soffits. This is something you will want to do on a low setting as it will get them clean and will keep the water out of the attic. You don’t want to do this on a high setting and risk water intrusion.

Another one is, metal roof over shingles issues. If you are thinking about putting a metal roof over a shingle roof, there are things you need to think about. One of those is that it is very difficult to tell if there is any rot or damage. It is also difficult to tell missing shingles, or water damage underneath.

Lastly, if you are having a roof installed, you want to make sure that the waterproof roofing felt is laid down on it. This is because it keeps the weather elements away, provides stain protection and roof decking position.

When to Call a Professional

If you encounter extensive damage or complex issues, or if the task requires specialized equipment, it’s prudent to contact a professional roofing contractor. Have a licensed roofer inspect your roof every few years to catch potential issues early. If damage is found, have it repaired as soon as possible to prevent further deterioration.


Maintaining clean roof shingles is crucial for ensuring the longevity and functionality of your roof. Whether you choose to undertake this task yourself or hire a professional, regular cleaning and maintenance will protect your investment. It will also keep your home looking its best. While you are taking care of your roof shingles, it is a good time to call Enviroquest Home Inspections for a roof inspection and complete home inspections in Harrisburg, PA.

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