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Best Way to Clean Cedar Shake Roof: A Comprehensive Guide

Best Way to Clean Cedar Shake Roof


Cedar shake roofs are a beautiful and durable roofing option for homeowners. However, they require regular maintenance, including cleaning, to keep them in good condition. Cleaning cedar shake roofs can be a challenging task, but it’s crucial to maintain the beauty and longevity of the roof. In this article, we will discuss the best way to clean cedar shake roofs, including the cleaning process, cleaning solutions, and when to hire a professional.

Cleaning Process

Cleaning cedar shake roofs require a specific cleaning process to avoid damaging the roof’s shingles. Here’s a step-by-step guide on the best way to clean cedar shake roofs:

  1. Safety Precautions: Start by wearing protective clothing and equipment, including gloves, goggles, and a respirator. Cedar shake roofs are prone to moss, algae, mildew, and other organic growth, which can be hazardous to your health.

  2. Remove Debris: Start by removing any debris, such as leaves, twigs, and branches, from the roof’s surface. Debris can accumulate on the roof and trap moisture, leading to decay and damage.

  3. Remove Moss and Lichen: Use a moss and lichen remover solution to remove any moss or lichen growth on the cedar shingles. Moss and lichen can cause decay and damage to the roof’s shingles, leading to costly repairs.

  4. Apply Cleaning Solution: Use a cleaning solution specifically designed for cedar shake roofs. Avoid using bleach, as it can damage the shingles and cause discoloration. The cleaning solution should be applied with a low-pressure sprayer, starting from the top of the roof and working your way down.

  5. Rinse: After applying the cleaning solution, rinse the roof thoroughly with a low-pressure sprayer. Ensure that all cleaning solution is removed from the roof’s surface to avoid any damage to the shingles.

  6. Dry: Allow the roof to dry completely before applying any cedar shake roof maintenance products, such as sealants or stains.

Best Way to Clean

Now that we’ve discussed the cleaning process, let’s look at the best way to clean cedar shake roofs.

  1. Regular Cleaning: Cedar shake roofs should be cleaned every three to five years to maintain their beauty and longevity. Regular cleaning can prevent moss, algae, and other organic growth from damaging the shingles.

  2. Use the Right Cleaning Solution: It’s essential to use the right cleaning solution to clean cedar shake roofs. Avoid using bleach or any harsh chemicals, as they can damage the shingles and cause discoloration.

  3. Remove Moss and Lichen: Moss and lichen can cause decay and damage to cedar shake roofs. It’s crucial to remove any moss or lichen growth as soon as possible to avoid costly repairs.

  4. Hire a Professional: Cleaning cedar shake roofs can be a challenging task, especially for homeowners with little or no experience. Hiring a professional can ensure that the roof is cleaned safely and effectively.

Cedar Shake Roof Maintenance

Cedar shake roofs require regular maintenance to maintain their beauty and longevity. Here are some cedar shake roof maintenance tips:

  1. Inspect the Roof Regularly: Inspect the roof regularly to identify any signs of damage, such as cracks, decay, or missing shingles. Early detection can prevent costly repairs in the future.

  2. Trim Overhanging Branches: Overhanging branches can damage cedar shake roofs by scratching or breaking the shingles. It’s essential to trim any overhanging branches to prevent damage to the roof.

  3. Apply Sealant: Applying sealant can protect cedar shake roofs from moisture and decay. It’s recommended to apply sealant every five years to maintain the roof’s durability.

  4. Apply Stain: Applying stain can enhance the beauty of cedar shake roofs and protect them from UV rays. Stain also helps to maintain the roof’s color and prevent discoloration.

When to Hire a Professional

Cleaning cedar shake roofs can be a challenging and time-consuming task. Here are some reasons to consider hiring a professional:

  1. Lack of Experience: Cleaning cedar shake roofs requires specific knowledge and experience. If you’re not confident in your ability to clean the roof safely and effectively, it’s best to hire a professional.

  2. Safety Concerns: Cedar shake roofs can be hazardous to clean, especially if there is moss or algae growth on the roof’s surface. Hiring a professional can ensure that the roof is cleaned safely and without any accidents.

  3. Cost-Effective: Hiring a professional can be cost-effective in the long run. Professional cleaners have the right equipment and cleaning solutions to clean cedar shake roofs effectively, preventing any damage that may lead to costly repairs.


Cleaning cedar shake roofs are crucial to maintaining their beauty and longevity. The best way to clean cedar shake roofs is to follow a specific cleaning process, use the right cleaning solutions, remove any moss or lichen growth, and hire a professional if necessary. Regular cedar shake roof maintenance can also prevent costly repairs and prolong the roof’s lifespan. By following these tips, homeowners can keep their cedar shake roofs in excellent condition for many years to come.

Cedar Shake Roof Cleaning in Des Moines Iowa
Cedar Shake Roof before & after cleaning

Meet Bruce

50 Years of Experience &
Over 2,000 Shake Roofs Cleaned

Bruce Sullivan has over 50 years of experience in maintaining, cleaning, and restoring cedar shake roofs. Making him one of the top authorities on cedar shake roofs in the US.

Watch the Cedar Shakes Cleaning Process in Action in this video

Play Video about Roof Cleaning How to Remove Moss, Lichen, Fungi from a Cedar Roof Sullivan Roof


What can I say? Bruce and Keith provided an exceptional service, and they are really nice guys too. Found out at the last minute they were in Minneapolis, and they fit me in for a cedar shake roof cleaning the next evening after their regular job was done. Even cleaned up my gutters, small fence, and small deck at no charge. The place looks outstanding! Highly recommended.

Mike Richards

I highly recommend this business. Due to the work performed we are going to get another 10-14 years out of our cedar shake roof. We were told by some roofing companies that the roof should be replaced in 2 years. I lucked out and found Sullivan Roof Cleaning while researching companies that perform this service, and was pleased to learn that the company does work outside of Iowa. If you need your cedar shakes cleaned, go with Sullivan Roof Cleaning.

Eric Oelrich, 
St Cloud, MN

Bruce did a great job cleaning the whole exterior of my house. The roof has new life! It looks practically brand new. All the mold and moss on the roof, on the gutters, under the eaves, completely gone. He exceeded all our expectations. When he tells you what he can do for your house, you can believe and trust him. Great guy, great service.

Stuart Malone
Kansas City, MO


Cedar shakes are organic. Though a resilient material. Being organic they need to be maintained. Over time, like any organic material that are subjected to weather elements, they reach a stage of deterioration. Like UV exposure, moisture and seasonal changes. Which results in moss, mold, mildew, lichen and brown rot fungi. These infestations need to be removed to further preserve the integrity of the cedar shake.
The proper way to clean a cedar shake roof is from a ladder. By spraying a special formulated solution onto the shakes and then rinsed with a garden hose pressure. Best done by a professional cedar shake roof cleaner. Not DIY recommended.
No. Pressure washer will require walking on the shakes, which will harm them, and even at its lowest setting will also damage the shakes.
On average, cedar shakes should be cleaned every 10 ten years. Subjective to the grade of the shakes and the amount of surrounding tree cover.
Avoiding walking on a cedar shake roof, other than for repairs.
Never seal a cedar shake roof. Cedar shakes need to breathe. They expand and contract in rain conditions. Seal will shorten the lifespan, to the point of premature replacement.
Staining has no real preserve value and can also harm the integrity of shakes, as stated, they need to be able to breathe. Also, if the shakes are not properly cleaned staining can seal the deteriorating infestation within the shakes.
Depending on the grade of the shakes and installation, and if maintained properly, 40 to 60 years.


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