Note: This is cleaning/treatment/restoration only. We do not offer roof repair services.
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Cleaning Cedar Shingle Roofs: What You Need To Know

Cedar Shingles Cleaning


If you are looking for the best-looking cedar roof shingles, then go talk to the homeowners who are keeping their shingles clean. The roofs with the best-looking cedar shingles are those that get cleaned periodically. Cedar roof cleaning takes your home to the next level and ensures that it will last as long as possible.

Here are some great tips on cleaning Cedar Shingle Roofs and to keep them looking great!

How Often Should You Clean Cedar Shingles?

Cedar roof shingles should be cleaned every 5-10 years, depending on your local weather conditions, climate, and immediate surroundings. Many cedar shingle roof homeowners are not aware that it is important to have the roof cleaned so it can not only look charming and beautiful, but also extend the life of your roof by removing all the infestations of algae, fungus, and moss.

Cleaning Cedar Shingle Roofs

Cleaning cedar roof shingles is not a simple task. It involves more steps than vacuuming a rug or mopping a floor! To clean your shingles in an effective and lasting manner, you need specific tools and specially formulated cleaning fluids. If you would like to clean your own cedar shake roof then correct safety precautions must be taken to ensure that there are no slips, falls, and no damage is caused to the cedar shingle roof or to yourself. In short, the steps required to clean a cedar rooftop are not for the faint of heart!

Why do Cedar Shingles Need to be Cleaned?

Cedar Roof Cleaning, Hobe Sound, Florida 850x433

Cedar is a popular choice for residential roofing because of its strength, longevity, and natural thermal qualities. Cedar is a lumber native to the Pacific Northwest and has been used by Native Americans for centuries as a housing material. Cedar roofs have stood the test of time and continue to be popular today for good reason.

Cedar shingle roofs will not last forever, after many years of exposure to sunlight, UV rays, rain, storms, snow, and weather conditions your shakes will degrade, but they will last longer than most other roofing materials if properly taken care of. You can do this by having your cedar roof shingles professionally cleaned every 5 to 10 years depending on your local weather conditions, they could last for 40 years or upwards of 50 years.

If you’re considering roofing your home with cedar shingles, there are a few things you need to know. Cedar remains the warmest roofing material on the market, providing infinitely more warmth than metal or aluminum and also having five times the insulating qualities of slate and eight times that of concrete.

What is a Cedar Shake Roof

Thanks to the superior insulating qualities of cedar shingles, you can maintain your desired temperatures indoors and allow you to live in comfort. Minimize your family’s use of your heating and cooling system with cedar shingles and save on your energy consumption!

The benefits of cedar shakes are not only financial, but they are aesthetic as well.

One of the biggest threats to the quality of your cedar shingles is the growth of organisms. These organisms grow on the surface of the wood and manifest through darkened colors, slimy areas, and green growth. If the shingles turn from a fresh or silvery cedar color to a dark brown or black tone, it is time to have your roof cleaned by a professional. There are things to look out for such as fungus, algae, and moss, these will trap moisture and cause the shakes to start to rot.

Can I Clean My Own Cedar Shingle Roof?

Can you clean your cedar roof shingles? Sure, there are some high risks and lots of preparation though. You’ll need the following:

A Ladder, a hose, specially formulated cleaning solution, a strong brush, sturdy boots, old clothes, and a way to ensure the runoff from the roof is channeled effectively to make sure you, your home, your family, your pets, and your garden stay safe, warm, and healthy.

The roofing shingles need to be cleaned for reasons of home maintenance and care, but safety should always come first when it comes to working on the roof. To clean the shingle, you need many tools. Tools needed are a ladder, harness, and also other tools to ensure there is no danger. For example, if the home has more than one story, there is a higher chance of accidents happening while cleaning shingles. A ladder with enough height is needed for ascending and descending safely from the height of the roof. A leaning ladder is better than a standing ladder for this task.

Bruce Cleaning the Roof From Ladder
A man spraying a roof with a hose.

Work Boots or Shoes

Top Tips for Cleaning Moss From a Cedar Shake Roof

Since the roof is steep and high, it is important to wear shoes or boots with good traction on them while climbing up and down the ladder. This type of footwear will help you stay balanced on the ladder. Never walk directly on the roof because this may crack the shingles and cause leaks. Another key reason for staying on the ladder is that cedar shakes and shingles are often very slippery and the chances of slipping and falling are high, combined with the height of the roof this is very dangerous.

A Sturdy and Long Ladder

A sturdy and long ladder is essential when cleaning cedar roof shingles. Make sure the ladder can hold at least three hundred pounds without buckling in the middle, and be sure it is two feet longer than the height of your house. When climbing up or down, always keep all four legs connected – 2 on the roof and 2 on the ground. If your ladder has extra balance points at the top this can help to stabilize the ladder and spread the weight on the shakes.

Work Clothes

When cleaning your cedar roof shingles, it’s important to remember to dress appropriately. Avoid wearing your favorite jeans and opt for old work clothes that you don’t mind getting wet and dirty. Make sure they’re free from holes or snags, as you want to keep your body protected and prevent your clothes from catching anything when walking on your roof.

When cleaning your cedar roof shingles, it’s important to be aware of the dangers involved. Walking on the roof is dangerous for you and the shingles and is not recommended at all. That’s why it’s best to hire a roofing professional to clean your cedar shingles.

A Strong Brush

A strong brush is needed when cleaning your cedar roof shingles. It’s a good idea to invest in a brush with a stiff bristle that you can attach to a long handle. The cleaning solution will need to be applied for the best results and an extra person may be required if the roof is large, but it’s best not to try and clean the entire roof yourself. Cleaning your cedar roof shingles can be dangerous, especially as you’ll be high up on a ladder and likely lack experience in roof cleaning. Be sure to use safety precautions such as gloves and protective clothing to keep yourself protected from the chemicals, any sharp edges, the cold, the water, and any debris that gets loosened up.

Safe Ways to Go About Cleaning Cedar Roof Shingles

Unfortunately, if you’re not confident in your ability to work on your roof, then you should probably call in a professional. If you do want to clean the shingles yourself, there are certain things that you need to be aware of when cleaning, such as not damaging them with any tools and following these recommended directions:

-Make sure the shingles remain intact when cleaning by using proper equipment. It’s easy for shingles to be damaged with the wrong tools.

-Use a special cedar shake detergent when cleaning to make sure the cedar is effective and safe for people, pets, and your garden. Do not use bleach!

-Use a high-quality brush with an extendable handle to get into all of the nooks and crannies of the shingles while rinsing with a garden hose.

-Spray the formula high onto the roof and allow it to come down to you, you should not spray underneath the shakes as it will penetrate inside and cause damage.

-Allow the solution to sit for at least 15 minutes before you begin scrubbing and rinsing, as this helps it work deeper into the shingles. Make sure you don’t leave it on too long, though, or else some of it will dry onto the surface of the shingles and make it harder to rinse off.

-Use a high-pressure nozzle on the end of your garden hose to remove dirt and grime, as this is more effective than using a regular-stream. This is not pressure washing, do not use a pressure washer in any part of the process or to rinse.  This remains garden hose pressure.

Avoid High-Pressure Equipment

When cleaning cedar roof shingles, it is important to avoid using high-pressure equipment. This is the most frequent mistake that homeowners make, and it will likely damage the shingles. This could compromise the integrity of your roof leading to much larger issues.

Roof Cleaning & Landscaping Protection Video 850x433

The use of a power cleaner is not recommended as it may rip the shingles apart causing serious damage. Pressurized water and fluid could get under the shingles and compromise your roof. Second, shingles can become chipped or loosened in the process. Finally, a professional roof cleaner could come to your house and take care of the cleaning for you — and at an affordable rate. There is no need to risk damage to your roof.

For the novice cleaner, it often feels tempting to use a high-pressure, high-power cleaner on your shingles. After all, you want to get the job done as quickly as possible. Given the enormity of your roof, the task can seem overwhelming too. And who wants to spend an entire afternoon completing this kind of chore? Not many, which is why a lot of homeowners use pressurized cleaners to blast dirt off their shingles.

It is satisfying to watch the moss, algae, and other infestations go flying off the roof but this does not however address the main (root) cause of the issue and infestations and they will quickly return, far more quickly than if the problem had been addressed correctly in the first place.

Should I Hire a Professional to Clean my Cedar Shake Roof?

A man holding a piece of wood in front of a house.

Hiring a professional roof cleaner is the easiest, least stressful, and best way to get your cedar shingle roofs looking as good and staying clean for years. Professional cleaners know all about the formulas, applications of pressure & anything else that might come up when you’re working on such an important project-they’ll take care in making sure everything gets done right! You won’t have any worries or concerns because these experts are here just like they trained to do – clean cedar shingle roofs.

Experts know how to clean a roof with ease, but many homeowners find themselves overwhelmed when they try. As soon as the professional starts working and you see them climbing up the ladder than getting right into work spraying, scrubbing, and cleaning – it can seem like an impossible task!

“It’s hard for most people who are not familiar with what tasks need doing in order for everything else around your property to stay safe.”

With the right tools, today’s professional roof cleaners can get your home looking new and extend the life of your roof. They will clean every square inch of it and make sure that everything is done to a high standard.

So Should I do it Myself?

Our answer is no but it is your home and you can do as you feel but when it comes to your home, the last thing you want is for anything on top of that roofing system to go wrong. That includes things like falls, leaks, or other damage because these could cause major problems with water intrusion into different parts inside the house where they don’t belong – not only will this make living space wet and uncomfortable but also the repairs will be expensive!

You will likely save some money by doing it yourself but the amount of time, high risk of injury, and high risk of damaging your beautiful cedar shingles on your roof make it not worth it overall.

How to Find the Perfect Cedar Shake Roof Cleaner

You can ask online, ask your neighbors, perform a quick Google search for “Cedar shake roof cleaning near me” and then find your cleaner that way. You could also read our guide on how to find a cedar shake cleaner.  Here at Cedar Shakes Roof Cleaning Bruce offers free quotes for the cleaning and long-term preservation of your cedar shake roof. Get in contact today and get a quote for your roof.

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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