Cleaning Your Roof By Yourself is a Bad Idea

Moss covered rooftop

Being a homeowner carries a bit of pride. Tackling cleaning, maintenance or repairs without needing to reach for the phone every time something arises is empowering. It provides a sense of accomplishment. However, knowing what you should do on your own and what your limits are is important. You can do more harm than good.

Sometimes it’s best to pick up the phone and leave it to the professionals. Plumbing, electrical, and roofing are 3 such areas where DIY is not recommended.


Safety 1st


Risk of falls

Of all the reasons for hiring a professional, your safety is at the top of the list. Roof maintenance carries a significant risk of falls. Even on roofs with minimal slope, all it takes is stepping on a small branch or a loose shingle to lose your footing. Many falls simply occur from carelessness. Set a piece of flashing or a tool on the roof, then turn around or step back and….it’s a sudden thud when you hit the ground. For all the pride and the sense of accomplishment you wanted, you end up with an embarrassing story (or far worse).


What goes up must come down.

Before stepping foot on the roof, you still need to tackle the ladder. Is it in working order? Is it tall enough? Do you know the correct angle to set it against the house? Do you have someone on the ground holding it?

Getting up the ladder and on the roof carries one set of risks. You still need to get down. According to an OSHA ‘Fall’ Hazards training guide, ‘Twice as many falls occur stepping down compared to going up ladders.

Stepping onto a ladder climbing off a roof adds an element of not being able to see where you are stepping. Plus there is the risk the ladder falls BEFORE you get on it. While you won’t get hurt, you will be stuck.

Safety 1st – hire a professional.


Experience and Expertise


Roof (and gutter) cleaning is not overly complicated. It isn’t exactly straightforward either. If it was just loose debris on your roof, that can be swept off easily (don’t forget the gutters). Properly cleaning and maintaining your roof involves a bit more.



Cleaning your gutters may seem easy. There isn’t much to do other than scoop out all that muck…until you realize you need to clean out those downspouts. They need to be cleaned too. Simply dragging a hose up to your roof to use water to flush them may not be enough. Sometimes a bit of high pressure is needed. That brings us back to the safety issue. Now you’re dragging a house up (and down) a ladder and wet surfaces increase the risk of slipping. 

Whenever your gutters are cleaned, they should also be inspected. Are they attached well? Are they angled correctly to collect rain and drain properly? Clean gutters are worthless if they can’t actually collect and drain.


Algae and Moss

In the great Pacific Northwest, our climate is perfect for moss and algae growth. The preferred method for cleaning is pressure washing. It’s the most thorough and efficient way to remove any growth. Done properly by someone with experience, it’s also the least damaging to the roof surface, flashing, and chimneys. The average homeowner or unskilled professional can do significant damage with pressure washing. 

If you choose the approach of using chemicals or solutions purchased at the local home repair mart, you MUST apply them in the exact amounts and evenly across the entire roof surface. If not, you likely won’t eliminate all of the growth and you’ll leave unsightly blemishes. It will be easy to tell where the roof was cleaned and where it wasn’t. Chemicals not spread evenly will create an ugly patchwork effect. Now your roof isn’t completely clean and your curb appeal is shot. 

Too many decide on taking DIY to the extreme. They opt for creating their own ‘chemical solution’. The usual ‘Google’ recommendation is to spray wash the roof with a 50 percent mix of water and bleach and use a brush to scrub the roof. This method will both damage the roof material (scrubbing destroys the integrity of asphalt shingles and other roofing materials) and anything else the spray contacts – including siding, expensive landscaping, decks, and garden furniture.


The cost/time factor

Hiring a professional to properly clean your roof or gutters is not that expensive. It is likely less expensive than doing it yourself.

Think about the amount of time the process will take: The trips to the store for the chemicals, a cost to rent a pressure washer, the time to set up, clean your roof and gutters, then the time to clean up. It adds up. Then you step back, look at your work and realized you missed spots.

The worst case scenario…you damage something in the process or get hurt. That adds up to costly repairs (though you’ll likely try them on your own first) or time off from work.


Roof cleaning is best left to the professionals.

Get it done properly, save money, and stay safe.

15 replies
  1. Derek McDoogle
    Derek McDoogle says:

    I totally agree with you when you said that roof maintenance carries a significant risk of falls. My neighbor told me that he wants to clean his roof this weekend and asked me if I ever cleaned my roof before. I will definitely suggest to him to contact a professional so he can avoid any accidents.

  2. Gutter Cleaning Logan UT
    Gutter Cleaning Logan UT says:

    Cleaning gutters does take time and energy, and can be risky. Not to mention it’s not something that’s at the forefront of most people’s mind. Here in Cache Valley, we’ve set up a system where we automatically come back every spring and fall unless someone cancels. That way they don’t even have to worry about remembering and calling a gutter cleaner!

  3. James Borst
    James Borst says:

    We bought our home pre-owned about a little over five years ago and it would be great to get the roof cleaned up. It is interesting that that pressure washing is the preferred way to remove algae and moss. We may consider hiring a roofing contractor.

    • rnissenbaum
      rnissenbaum says:


      When it is cleaned by a professional, pressure washing is the way to go. The damage tends to occur when the settings are too high or operated by someone without experience cleaning a roof.

  4. Charlotte Fleet
    Charlotte Fleet says:

    I like that you explain that when having your roof cleaned you should work with a professional to make sure it can get done well and safely. My husband and I have been wanting to get our roof cleaned before we put it on the market. I think we should look into hiring a professional with experience in roof washing for help.

  5. says:

    While technically you can clean your own roof, it’s not recommended. From personal injury to property damage, there are plenty of compelling reasons to leave roof cleaning to the professionals. Before you go grab your ladder and head out on the roof, consider why cleaning your own roof might not be a great idea.

  6. Best Roof Hatches
    Best Roof Hatches says:

    DIY roof cleaning can save money, but it is still best to contact professionals. There are many good reasons to hire a professional to clean your roof. Thank you so much for sharing your insights!

  7. Iris Smith
    Iris Smith says:

    Thank you for pointing out the substantial danger of falls associated with roof maintenance. I recently relocated and discovered that my roof is filthy. After reading your essay, I’ll hire a professional to keep my roof in top condition and to protect me from harm.


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