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Roof Cleaner Comparisons

Updated on March 22, 2011

When searching for the perfect roof cleaner to remove unwanted roof stains it’s important to remember that these products and solutions vary wildly, both in their composition and methods for application. There are pros and cons to every kind of roof cleaning mixture, but the great thing is that consumers have a wide range of choices these days, though this hasn’t always been the case. Homeowners used to be stuck with black roof algae, but those days are over.

One of the more popular roof cleaner products on the market today is an oxygen bleach based solution. Manufacturers are in love with this product because it can be shipped in a lightweight powder form, thereby saving on production and transport costs. It’s up to you as a consumer to mix it with water in perfect proportions, apply it evenly on the roof, and keep your skin and body safe in the process. This solution is an acceptable one if you’re willing to use the “spray and then forget about it” method, though it will probably require multiple applications over a series of weeks and usually takes several months to achieve ideal results. If you’re looking for more immediate results with this product then the manufacturers usually recommend that you combine it with the use of a pressure washer and a special wand attachment. This will indeed remove the roof stains right away but it will very possibly remove a number of shingle granules in the process.

Another series of products for roof cleaning rely on sodium hydroxide as the main cleaning agent. The upside is that this chemical is very effective for removing roof stains and other organic growth like lichen and minor moss. The downsides are that it requires the use of a pressure washer and it could possibly deteriorate the tar in your shingles. I’ve also seen a few situations where it came into contact with gutters and peeled the paint right off, which is obviously an undesirable outcome. If your contractor is using this chemical as his primary roof cleaning trick then you might want to find another contractor.

There are other roof cleaner products that I could go through one by one and give you the pros and cons but they are used so rarely that it’s not worth the time to explain them, especially since I need to tell you about the one roof cleaning solution that I truly recommend.  Yes, I’ve saved the best for last.  To sum it up in a nutshell, the safest and most effective roof cleaning mixture is one that you can make yourself out of bleach (or chlorine), water, and liquid laundry detergent.  You simply take some household bleach or liquid pool shock, mix in some water from the garden hose, and throw in a cup of liquid detergent.  Mix the whole thing up very well and then apply to the roof surface.  Allow several minutes for the algae to be killed and then rinse the whole roof down with water.  That’s really all there is to it.  No pressure washing should be required.  The only possible downside is that if you don’t dilute the chemical as it’s exiting the downspouts it can be detrimental to landscaping, but as long as you have somebody on the ground to rinse it down it shouldn’t be an issue.  Rely on this method if at all possible.  Just be safe and use common sense.  Roof cleaning can be very dangerous and you should hire a professional if you have any doubts whatsoever.

There's a good chance that someone along the way tried to tell you that using a bleach or chlorine-based mixture for roof cleaning is "bad" and will harm your shingles.  This is a bunch or hogwash, and the only people that will tell you this are the ones that are trying to sell you their own roof cleaning product.  They know that they can't cheaply manufacture and ship liquid shock so they don't, even though they know that it's the superior method.  Instead they come up with these powders and concoctions that they can make cheaply, ship for next to nothing, and pocket as much profit as possible.  Ask any professional home inspector or roof expert and I can virtually guarantee that they will tell you to try to avoid any roof cleaner that must be used in conjunction with a power washer or high pressure.


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