How to Clean Lichen Off a Roof

Lichens are interesting creatures that are half algae and half fungus. They are a symbiotic blend of a type of green or blue-green algae and any number of fungi. Lichen doesn't damage the roof with any secretions or feeding habits but it may cause the material on the roof to remain overly wet which may encourage rot. The lichen also diminishes the appearance of the roof. Lichens are tenacious organisms that tend to require heavy mechanical scraping to remove them. Mosses and algae are easier to rinse or chip off. Lichen is extremely slow growing and unlikely to cause any serious damage to the roof, according to the Cleaning Expert website.

Lichen are sensitive to pollution and only grow where environmental conditions are healthy.
  1. Provide yourself with a safe environment before you embark on lichen removal. Wear good skid-proof boots and a safety harness tied to the chimney. If you slip, you won't fall off the roof.
  2. Set your ladder up on a flat area. Run a hose line from the faucet to connect to the pressure washer. Connect the hose that came with the pressure washer up to the roof. Turn on the pressure washer and the water.
  3. Spray a small test area on the roof with the wide sprayer nozzle. A newer roof will be able to take the pressure washing better than an old one. Asphalt roofs also seem to fair well without any damage.
  4. Hold the nozzle 12 inches from the roof and move it across a small space evenly. Turn off the machine and check for any damage, such as broken or chipped tiles, pulled up shingles or exposed tar paper. If there is damage you will have to remove the lichen manually. If there is not, proceed with the washer in slightly overlapping strokes.
  5. Remove the lichen manually with a hose and hose end sprayer. Moisten an area of the roof and scrub with a long handled scrub brush. You don't need to apply any chemicals or products. Hard work is sufficient and more environmentally friendly. For persistent areas of lichen, use a spatula to chip off the lichen. Use knee pads while crawling around on the roof to save your legs.

Things You Will Need

  • Safety harness
  • Non-skid boots
  • Ladder
  • Pressure washer
  • Hose
  • Hose end sprayer
  • Long handled scrub brush
  • Plastic spatula
  • Knee pads

About the Author

Bonnie Grant began writing professionally in 1990. She has been published on various websites, specializing in garden-related instructional articles. Grant recently earned a Bachelor of Arts in business management with a hospitality focus from South Seattle Community College.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images