Roof Cleaning 101 - The Complete Guide - Wet & Forget Blog (2023)

Roof Cleaning 101 – The Complete Guide

By Wet & Forget

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Regular roof cleaning and inspections are critical for maintenance of any roof.

Read on to learn how to ensure you are keeping up with a robust preventative maintenance program, how to inspect your roof, and how to clean your roof – whatever its material.

Basic Preventative Maintenance

Roofing professionals recommend establishing a regular preventative maintenance program for your roof. This should consist of roof cleaning and inspections twice a year, ideally in the spring and autumn.

A robust roof maintenance program can help preserve the longevity of your roof and keep significant issues to a minimum.

Regular roof inspections are critical for ensuring potential issues are identified before they reach a crisis point. This not only helps prevent catastrophes but also affords homeowners the time to incorporate any necessary expenses into their budgets.

It also allows more time to file and process any essential warranty claims before repairs.

Regular roof cleaning can help preserve your home’s aesthetic and resale value. More importantly, it also minimizes the risk of any damage to your roof or voiding of its warranty.

Dirt, sap, and other debris on your roof can result in more than just a cosmetic issue. The accumulation of such organic material promotes the growth of moss or lichen.

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Moss and lichen both retain moisture that can severely damage your roof. Unchecked moss growth may void some roofs’ warranties and even your homeowner’s insurance, making it even more problematic.

Regular Roof Inspection

Inspecting your roof for any potential damage, defects, or buildup of debris and organic growth is critical to a robust preventative maintenance plan for your roof. Homeowners should conduct visual inspections twice annually, as well as after any major disasters or weather events.

Key things to look out for during your review include:

  • Damaged or cracked caulking around flashing
  • Rust spots on flashing
  • Shingles that are buckling, curling, or blistering
  • Missing or broken shingles
  • Cracked or worn rubber boots around vent pipes
  • Significant amounts of grit from the roofing material (mainly asphalt) in gutters
  • Moss or lichen

Whether it is feasible or not for a homeowner to get up on the roof to conduct an inspection will depend on the type of roof and level of comfort of the homeowner. Steep-slope roofs, especially those with delicate shingles, are highly susceptible to damage caused by improper weight distribution.

Avoid walking on such roofs when possible. When using ladders on steep-slope shingle roofs, match the pitch of the ladder to that of the roof. This will distribute weight evenly and minimize the chance of accidental damage.

If regular inspections at roof level are not viable, homeowners can conduct visual inspections from the ground using binoculars.

Regular Roof Cleaning

Clean your roof by removing any debris and dirt that may have accumulated from valleys, snow guards, gutters, and the area behind the chimney. Use heavy rubber gloves to scoop up materials in areas you can safely reach.

Use a vinyl rake to clear areas you can’t reach. Take note of any overhanging tree branches and trim them away from the roof.

Remove moss, mold, mildew, and algae with a safe, gentle outdoor cleaning product compatible with your roof like .

Wet & Forget Outdoor Cleaner only needs to be applied once a year to remove the growth. It requires no pressure washing, scrubbing, or use of harsh chemicals that could damage your roof.

Here’s how to apply it:

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  1. Connect the Xtreme Reach™ Hose End Nozzle to your garden hose and attach the jet-setting tip.
  2. Turn the dial to the ‘ON’ setting and saturate the affected area with the diluted Wet & Forget at a time that allows the surface 4 to 5 hours to dry before the threat of rain.
  3. Walk away, and let Wet & Forget annihilate the moss, mold, mildew and algae.
  4. Re-treat once a year, or at the first sign of re-growth.

Tailoring Your Roof Cleaning Program to Your Roof

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Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingle roofs are the most common type of residential roofs in the United States. They are known for being low-maintenance, and the maintenance program outlined above should be sufficient to care for them.

While no additional steps are needed, it is important to remember to avoid pressure washing asphalt shingle roofs. High pressure can severely damage shingles.

It is also advisable to avoid using harsh products like bleach that could discolor or prematurely degrade the shingles.

Be sure to keep an eye out for granules from your asphalt shingles collecting in gutters. While this is common on new roofs, it could indicate an older roof is nearing the end of its lifespan.

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Clay & Concrete Tile

Cleaning tiles with harsh chemicals and pressure washers can erode tile coatings and paint. Roof cleaning in such abrasive ways makes it necessary to re-coat the seal and paint to protect the roof from dirt and moss infestation.

Avoid using such measures when possible. Tiles are also very fragile and can crack easily under pressure.

It is important to avoid walking on tile roofs. If it is necessary to be on your tile roof, use plywood with a foam treatment on its underside. This will lessen the pressure and distribute your weight.

Tiles may take on efflorescence (a whitish, chalk-like covering) as they dry. This is a result of salts crystallizing as water evaporates.

Higher levels of humidity slow the evaporation of water which allows the salts to crystallize into efflorescence. Efflorescence does not damage tiles but will dull them.

To remove efflorescence, add buffing your dry roof with a clean and dry cloth rug to your regular roof cleaning and maintenance program.

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Wood Shake & Shingle

Maintain wood shakes and shingles with care. Improper roof cleaning practices can easily damage wood shakes and shingles.

It is important to avoid pressure washing your wood roof. Pressure washing can cause wood shakes and shingles to lift or can trap water underneath them, causing leaks.

It is also advisable to avoid using harsh chemicals like bleach or ammonia in wood roof cleaning. Such products may discolor paint and metal fixtures on your roof, and runoff may damage your garden and lawn.

It is critical to ensure swift removal of any moss or lichen on your wood roof. Moss growth on wood shingles or shakes has the potential to void your roof’s warranty.

Add trimming back any branches hanging over your roof to your regular maintenance schedule. This will minimize the accumulation of debris on your roof and will help to prevent the growth of moss.

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Cedar Shake & Shingle

Cedar shake roofs have special needs different to that of other wood shingles but are similar in their cleaning and maintenance needs.

The Cedar Shake & Shingle Bureau recommends ensuring overhanging branches are kept trimmed away from cedar roofs to prevent debris and moisture buildup. It is critical to keep cedar clean to allow it to breathe.

Clean gutters and downspouts during your biannual inspections and cleaning. Ventilation is crucial to keeping your cedar roof in good shape.

Ensure that areas with louvers, ridge vents, roof vents, and soffit vents are clear and free of any blockage.

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Avoid pressure washing your cedar roof. Pressure washing should only be done by a trained professional in cases of extreme moss and debris build-up.

Avoid products like bleach and ammonia, as they may discolor or prematurely weather cedar shakes.

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Slate Shingle

Slate shingles are a beautiful material for roofing but are delicate and costly to replace.

Regular roof cleaning is critical for your roof, as slate is easy to cleave and water absorbent. Buildup of moss and debris on slate roofs hold moisture in the slates that can split them during winter.

When cleaning a slate roof, don’t use chemicals like ammonia or chlorine bleach. Such harsh chemicals are incompatible with the copper components of your slate roof.

They can turn your copper prematurely black or discolor a beautiful verdigris patina. It is also important to never pressure wash your slate roof or even use too strong a blast from a garden hose.

Pressure washing can break apart slates or drive water up under slates and cause leaks.

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Metal

Metal roofing is durable, but it is vulnerable to rust and corrosion. It is also important to prevent different types of metal from touching one another. Chemical reactions between metals can damage or discolor the metal.

Ensure your metal roof is kept clean and well maintained by using products that are safe for the type of metal your roof is made of, and look out for any areas that have begun to rust or corrode during your inspections.

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At the end of the day, the most important thing for any roof is to inspect and clean it of any visible debris or growth twice a year.

Roof cleaning can be made easier with a once a year, no-fuss application of. This outdoor cleaner is safe to use on virtually any type of roof and will help to keep your roof free of moss, mold, mildew, and algae all year long.

To find a Wet & Forget retailer near you, click here.

FAQs

Is Wet and Forget OK for roofs? ›

Roof cleaning can be made easier with a once a year, no-fuss application of Wet & Forget Xtreme Reach™ Hose End. This outdoor cleaner is safe to use on virtually any type of roof and will help to keep your roof free of moss, mold, mildew, and algae all year long.

Can I use wet and forget on shingle roof? ›

Wet & Forget Outdoor works with the wind and rain over time to completely wipe out black algae and keep it away for a year or more in most cases. Wet & Forget's gentle, caustic formula is safe for all shingles and won't corrode your downspouts or harm your lawn with runoff.

Does wet and forget work on roof moss? ›

Wet & Forget is gentle enough to use on a wide variety of outdoor surfaces, including any type of roof, decking, or siding. Wet & Forget works with the rain and wind to gently remove moss off your roof. No scrubbing, bleach, or pressure washing needed!

What if it rains after Wet and Forget? ›

Once the surface is dry, the product is no longer active so you and your and pets can safely move about. Rain will not reactivate the product. If your pet accidentally steps on a wet surface, then rinse paws with water to prevent licking.

What time of year do you apply Wet and Forget? ›

Apply Wet & Forget Outdoor in fall to eliminate moss, algae, mold, mildew stains on outdoor surfaces. The product works with autumn's cool rains to clean your home's outdoor surfaces. Use Wet & Forget Outdoor in fall, and your outdoor surfaces will be clean by spring!

What do professional roof cleaners use? ›

Cleaning may be accomplished with a bleach or sodium percarbonate solution, various cleaning products or commercial cleaning services. The Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA) recommends using a 50/50 solution of household strength sodium hypochlorite (pool chlorine) and water to remove moss and algae.

How long does Wet and Forget take to work on a roof? ›

If it is really light you will see results within days. Otherwise, it may take 2-3 months to see improvement. Your concrete may turn reddish brown when Wet & Forget Outdoor is applied. This is normal and shows you have a good reaction.

Is Wet and Forget just bleach? ›

Wet & Forget is non-acidic and contains no bleach; therefore it can be used on ANY outdoor surface material. Some of the more popular surfaces include: Roofs, Siding, Decks, Walkways, Driveways, Brick, RVs, and Boats.

How long should Wet and Forget be applied before rain? ›

Wet & Forget is best applied to a dry surface on a cool, windless day, when no rain is expected for 4-5 hours. Ideally, early morning is the best time to apply when the surface is cool, this will help avoid rapid evaporation of the product. Wet & Forget can be applied at any temperature above 32 degrees.

How often should you use Wet and Forget? ›

Spray your shower down with Wet & Forget Shower after you use the shower. The next day, simply rinse the surfaces clean with water before showering. Do this once each week to keep your shower spotless. For best results leave on surface 8-12 hours (but no more than 24 hours).

Can you pressure wash after using Wet and Forget? ›

A: Yes, you can paint/stain surfaces after applying Spray & Forget on them. If you are in a hurry, simply pressure wash the surface after applying Spray & Forget to clean it.

What is the mixture for Wet and Forget? ›

Wet & Forget's mixing ratio is 1 part Wet & Forget to 5 parts water. For a 1-Gallon sized garden pump sprayer, pour 20 oz (2.5 cups) of Wet & Forget into your sprayer. Next, fill the sprayer with water to the 1-Gallon marker and you're ready to go.

How long does it take for Wet and Forget to clean? ›

About how the products work:

Algae disappears within days. Moss will turn brown within a few days, and other light growth will decompose within a few weeks. Black mould will noticeably improve within 4-6 months, however if the area is heavily contaminated, it will take up to 6-12 months.

Do you have to rinse spray and forget? ›

Spray & Forget offers the simplest method of use! Rinsing is not required or recommended, and rain is not necessary at all for the process to work its magic on your roof. However, if you get rain on your surface within 24 hours after using the product, the results may be thwarted.

What is the best chemical to clean a roof? ›

Experts agree that sodium hydroxide is the product of choice for homeowners who want to clean their concrete, tile, and the materials of their slate roof. Another chemical solution that can be used for cleaning your roof is sodium hypochlorite. This substance turns into salt when all traces of water have evaporated.

What is the best thing to clean your roof with? ›

Chlorine bleach, the same kind you use to whiten laundry or scrub your toilet, is enough to kill off moss and algae spores. The ARMA recommends a 1:1 ratio of bleach to water to clean a roof. They also advise against using a pressure washer on asphalt shingles, as the force of the water can damage them.

What is the best method to clean a roof? ›

Don't: Use a pressure washer, which can loosen shingles and seriously damage your roof. Do: Use a sprayer attached to garden hose that's filled with equal parts chlorine bleach and water. of laundry strength liquid chlorine bleach and water. This is the best way to clean a roof if you have asphalt shingles.

Is Wet and Forget better than bleach? ›

Bleach is a real hassle to use, encourages moss, algae, lichen or mold and mildew to grow right back, and can even harm the surface you're trying to clean. Wet & Forget Outdoor beats bleach and eliminates even the toughest growths with no scrubbing, and keeps them clean for a year or more in most cases.

Does Wet and Forget work on mold? ›

Wet & Forget Outdoor removes moss, mold, mildew, and algae on exterior surfaces. It's a gentle cleaner that doesn't require any scrubbing, and its bleach-free formula is safe to use on all types of headstones.

What is the best solution for roof waterproofing? ›

Bitumen is a good waterproofing material due to its nature. It is easy to apply and economical. Bitumen-based liquid membrane and bitumen-based roll membrane materials are the most well-known, economical, and high-performance materials used for roof insulation.

How long does wet and forget take to work on a roof? ›

If it is really light you will see results within days. Otherwise, it may take 2-3 months to see improvement. Your concrete may turn reddish brown when Wet & Forget Outdoor is applied. This is normal and shows you have a good reaction.

What is the best way to waterproof your roof? ›

Here are some easy ways to waterproof your roof and ensure that your home is safe and sound.
  1. Remove all dead leaves and branches.
  2. Trim trees close to the roof.
  3. Replace missing, curling, or damage shingles.
  4. Add insulation to your attic.
  5. Cover seams with seam tape.
  6. Add a water repellent layer.
  7. Add heat tape to gutters and more.

Can spray and forget be used on shingles? ›

For roof applications, you should hire a roof cleaning specialist and request that they use Spray & Forget cleaner if you are not experienced with walking on roofs. For rinsing, wait 12-24 hours and rinse thoroughly using a pressure washer with the wand backed away from the roof shingles as to reduce the pressure.

Which waterproofing is best for old roof? ›

EPDM RUBBER

EPDM rubber is one of the recommended waterproofing materials for roofs.

Does it need to rain for Wet and Forget to work? ›

Wet & Forget is best applied to a dry surface on a cool, windless day, when no rain is expected for 4-5 hours. Ideally, early morning is the best time to apply when the surface is cool, this will help avoid rapid evaporation of the product. Wet & Forget can be applied at any temperature above 32 degrees.

What is the main ingredient in Wet and Forget? ›

Wet & Forget® Products

The active ingredient is Alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride, which is 9.9% of the product. This ingredient is also known as Benzalkonium chloride, and it is one of the active ingredients in Clorox wipes.

How often should roof be waterproofed? ›

Here's what you need to know in terms of maintenance of your waterproofing system: Preventative maintenance should be carried out at least once every 4 months. That's 3 times a year.

Which roof is best for rain? ›

Metal roofs feature a system of interlocking panels that protect the house and provide full coverage from and resistance to the elements. Unlike other roofing materials, metal is installed with fewer seams, giving water and moisture less room for intrusion. That makes it the best roof for a rainy climate.

How do roofers stay hydrated? ›

The U.S. Department of Labor recommends water breaks every 15 minutes, so make sure that everyone has water to drink, even on milder days. Fill up a cooler with water bottles and ice packs, and remind crew members to stay hydrated. Dressing for the weather is also a crucial summer roofing safety tip.

How often should you use wet and forget? ›

Spray your shower down with Wet & Forget Shower after you use the shower. The next day, simply rinse the surfaces clean with water before showering. Do this once each week to keep your shower spotless. For best results leave on surface 8-12 hours (but no more than 24 hours).

Can you pressure wash after using wet and forget? ›

A: Yes, you can paint/stain surfaces after applying Spray & Forget on them. If you are in a hurry, simply pressure wash the surface after applying Spray & Forget to clean it.

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