Can You Pressure Wash Shingles? A Friendly Guide to Cleaning Your Roof

As a homeowner with vast experience in pressure washing, I know that keeping your home’s exterior clean is important. However, when it comes to pressure washing shingles, it’s important to proceed with caution. While pressure washing can be an effective way to remove dirt and grime from many surfaces, it’s not always the best solution for shingles.

In fact, pressure washing shingles can actually cause more harm than good. The high pressure of the water can strip away the protective granules on the shingles, which can lead to premature wear and tear. Additionally, if water gets underneath the shingles, it can cause damage to the roof deck and potentially lead to leaks. That’s why it’s important to consider alternative methods for cleaning your shingles.

Can You Pressure Wash Shingles?

I have quite a bit of experience pressure washing everything around my home. I love it. I pressure wash everything I possibly can around the house.

That being said, I can confidently say that pressure washing shingles is not a good idea. While pressure washing can be a satisfying way to clean dirty surfaces, it can cause water-related damage to the home as well as structural problems due to heavy rainstorms or extended droughts.

In fact, many experts recommend against pressure washing shingles altogether. The high pressure can dislodge shingles and cause leaks, which can lead to expensive repairs. Additionally, pressure washing can damage the protective coating of the shingles, which can shorten their lifespan and lead to premature replacement.

Instead of pressure washing, a better approach is to use a soft wash. A soft wash is a gentler method that uses low pressure and a special cleaning solution to remove dirt and grime from shingles. This method is safer and more effective than pressure washing, and it won’t damage your shingles or void any warranties you may have on your shingle installation.

It may be tempting to blast moldy shingles with a pressure washer but take caution before you do so.

Understanding Pressure Washing

As a homeowner, I understand the appeal of using a pressure washer to clean everything around the house, including shingles. But before you go ahead and blast away with your pressure washer, it’s important to understand what pressure washing is and how it works.

Pressure washing is a cleaning method that uses high-pressure water to remove dirt, grime, and other stains from surfaces. The pressure washer works by forcing water through a narrow nozzle at high pressure, which creates a powerful stream of water that can strip away even the toughest stains.

It’s important to note that not all surfaces are suitable for pressure washing. For example, pressure washing can damage delicate surfaces like wood, paint, and some types of roofing materials, including shingles. Before you start pressure washing, it’s important to check the manufacturer’s recommendations for your specific surface. If in doubt, it’s always best to consult with a professional.

Potential Risks of Pressure Washing Shingles

Damage to Shingles

I have been pressure washing everything around my home for years, but I have learned the hard way that pressure washing shingles can cause significant damage. Years ago, I thought I’d give it a try and it wasn’t until I had cleaned a quarter of my roof that I noticed something wasn’t right.

What I didn’t realize is that the high-pressure water can strip off the protective granules on the shingles, which can lead to premature wear and tear. Additionally, the water can dislodge the shingles, causing them to loosen or even fall off. That’s exactly what happened to my roof. And I had to spend another $500 and two days of work repairing the damaged shingles.

Water Intrusion

Another potential risk of pressure washing shingles is water intrusion. If the water is forced under the shingles, it can seep into the roof deck, causing water damage and even mold growth. Water damage can be expensive to repair, and mold can pose a significant health risk to you and your family.

Decreases Lifespan of Roof

If all the above occur in the process of pressure washing your roof, you may be putting yourself at financial risk. That’s because pressure washing shingles can also decrease the lifespan of your roof. The high-pressure water can wear down the shingles and cause them to age prematurely.

This can lead to leaks, water damage, and the need for costly repairs or even a full roof replacement, which is one of the biggest costs a homeowner can face.

Safety Concerns

Lastly, pressure washing shingles can be dangerous. Climbing up on a ladder to reach the roof can be hazardous, especially if you are not experienced with using a pressure washer. Some roofing materials can become slippery and leading to a fall off your roof.

Additionally, the high-pressure water can cause injury if it comes into contact with your skin. It is essential to take the necessary safety precautions and wear protective gear when pressure washing shingles.

Shingle pressure washing technique
Wear shoes with grip to prevent slipping and spray downward when rinsing to avoid water intrusion

Alternatives to Pressure Washing Shingles

Is a Pressure Washer Even Needed?

Like I’ve previously mentioned, my default is to pressure wash everything. But I can tell you that pressure washing shingles is not always necessary. In fact, it can cause more harm than good. If your shingles are not too dirty or covered in moss, you might be able to get away with just using a garden hose and a soft-bristled brush to clean them.

If you do decide to use a pressure washer, make sure to set it to the lowest pressure setting and keep the nozzle at least 12 inches away from the shingles.

Soft Washing

Soft washing is a great alternative to pressure washing shingles. It involves using a low-pressure spray to apply a cleaning solution to the shingles and then rinsing it off with a gentle stream of water. Soft washing is less likely to cause damage to your shingles than pressure washing, and it is also more effective at removing dirt, grime, and moss.

Chemical Cleaning

Another alternative to pressure washing shingles is chemical cleaning. This involves applying a cleaning solution to the shingles and letting it sit for a certain amount of time before rinsing it off with water. Chemical cleaning is effective at removing dirt, grime, and moss, and it is also less likely to cause damage to your shingles than pressure washing. However, it is important to note that some cleaning solutions can be harmful to plants and animals, so make sure to choose a solution that is safe for the environment.

When Does it Make Sense to Pressure Wash Shingles

As a homeowner with vast experience in pressure washing, I know that pressure washing shingles can be a tricky task. However, there are certain situations where it makes sense to use a pressure washer on your shingles.

If you have stubborn stains or dirt on your shingles that cannot be removed with other cleaning methods, such as soft washing, then pressure washing may be your best option. Additionally, if your shingles are made of a durable material such as metal or clay, pressure washing can be a good way to clean them, having less of a chance of being damaged by your pressure washer.

Regardless, you should always set the pressure to the lowest setting and keep the spray tip at least 18 inches away from the roof. Keep the spray direction at an angle to avoid spraying water up under the shingles. Spray downward, towards the ground.

It’s important to note that pressure washing should be done with caution and care to avoid damaging your shingles. If you’re not confident in your ability to pressure wash your shingles safely, it’s best to call in a professional to do the job for you.

Tips to Power Washing a Roof

As someone who has pressure washed my fair share of roofs, I can tell you that it’s not as easy as just pointing and spraying. As mentioned above, it’s generally not advisable, but if you are set on doing it, here are some tips to keep in mind when power washing your roof:

  • Be careful with the pressure: Shingles can be delicate, so it’s important to use the right amount of pressure when washing them. Too much pressure can damage the shingles and cause leaks, while too little pressure won’t get the job done. I recommend using a pressure washer with a PSI of 1200-1300 and a wide-angle spray tip.
  • Use the right cleaning solution: While plain water can remove some dirt and debris, it won’t get rid of everything. I recommend using a cleaning solution specifically designed for roofs. Make sure to read the label carefully and follow the instructions for mixing and application.
  • Spray downward, towards the ground – make sure the spray angle is down the roof face, not up it. You want to avoid water being sprayed up and under your shingles, which can cause mold issues and damage to your roof decking.
  • Protect your plants and landscaping: The cleaning solution and runoff from the pressure washer can be harmful to plants and landscaping. Before you start washing your roof, cover any nearby plants and landscaping with plastic sheeting or a tarp. After you’re done, rinse the area thoroughly with water to dilute any remaining solution.

Remember, safety should always be your top priority when pressure washing your roof. Wear slip-resistant shoes, a safety harness, and goggles to protect your eyes. If you’re not comfortable working on your roof, consider hiring a professional to do the job for you.

Useful Video from a Professional Pressure Washer

Professional Help for Cleaning Shingles

Shingle cleaning is not a job for the faint of heart. While it may be tempting to go the DIY route, this is one pressure washing job that I’d recommend seeking professional help. There’s no shame in asking for help.

Professional roof cleaners have the expertise and equipment necessary to safely and effectively clean your shingles without causing any damage. They use low-pressure cleaning methods that won’t strip away the protective granules on your shingles or cause water to seep in and damage your roof.

They also know the types of chemicals and mix ratios to use them effectively. A sodium hydrochlorite (bleach) mixture is often sprayed and allowed to dwell for a period of time before rinsing with a garden hose, effectively known as soft washing. They may never even use a pressure washer at all on a roof.

While hiring a professional to clean your roof may cost more than doing it yourself, it’s worth the investment to ensure that your roof is properly cleaned and maintained. Plus, a thorough roof washing can help restore color and brightness, giving your home an instant facelift.

In summary, when it comes to cleaning shingles, it’s best to leave it to the professionals. They have the knowledge, experience, and equipment necessary to get the job done right while protecting your roof from damage.

What Time of Year Should Your Roof Be Cleaned?

As a homeowner with vast experience pressure washing everything around my home, I know that the timing of roof cleaning is crucial. It’s essential to ensure that your roof is free from debris, dirt, and other contaminants that can cause damage and reduce its lifespan.

The best time to clean your roof is during the spring or fall. During these seasons, the weather is mild, and the temperature is moderate. It’s also the time when trees shed their leaves and debris, which can accumulate on your roof. Cleaning your roof during these seasons will help prevent any damage caused by debris buildup.

It’s also important to consider the weather conditions before cleaning your roof. Avoid cleaning your roof during the rainy season. Wet shingles can be slippery and dangerous to walk on, and the water can also seep into your roof, causing damage. On the other hand, cleaning your roof during hot and dry weather can also cause damage to your shingles. The high-pressure water can cause the shingles to crack or break, leading to leaks and other issues.

In conclusion, the best time to clean your roof is during the spring or fall when the weather is mild, and there’s less chance of rain. Make sure to avoid cleaning your roof during the rainy season or when the weather is hot and dry. By following these tips, you can ensure that your roof stays clean and well-maintained throughout the year.

How Often Should You Clean Your Roof?

As a homeowner, I know how important it is to maintain the exterior of your home. When it comes to cleaning your roof, it’s important to find the right balance between keeping it clean and not damaging the shingles. So, how often should you clean your roof?

The answer to this question depends on a few factors. If you live in an area with a lot of trees or near the ocean, you may need to clean your roof more often. Debris from trees and saltwater can build up on your roof, leading to discoloration and damage. On the other hand, if you live in a dry area with little tree cover, you may only need to clean your roof every few years.


In my experience as a pressure washing expert, I strongly advise against pressure washing shingles on your roof. The risks far outweigh the benefits. The high-pressure water streams can lift and crack shingles, drive water beneath the layers, and soak the underlayment and sheathing, leading to roof leaks and further damage.

Additionally, pressure washing can remove the protective coating that protects shingles from UV rays, wind, and water damage, as well as the removal of granules from your roof. This can lead to premature aging and deterioration of your shingles, causing water to seep under your shingles and into your home. This can lead to serious water damage, mold growth, and other problems.

While it may seem like a quick and easy solution to cleaning your roof, pressure washing shingles is not recommended in general. If you are looking to clean your shingles, it is best to hire a professional roofer who has experience in cleaning shingles without causing any damage. They will have the proper equipment and techniques to ensure that your roof is cleaned effectively and safely.