How to Remove Lichen on a Roof Before Damage Occurs

July 12, 2023

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Lichens are a fascinating group of organisms that form when algae or cyanobacteria partner with fungi. Types of lichen include leprose, foliose, squamulose, fruticose, and crustose lichen. They can be found in almost any environment on Earth and are incredibly ancient—fossils of lichens have been dated to more than 400 million years ago!

If you notice unsightly green growth in your roof shingles, it's likely lichens--a common organism that appears in damp and shaded areas. Lichens can cause long-term damage to your roof if left untreated.

So, how do you get rid of lichens on your roof? In short, you begin with a good cleaning solution, safety equipment, and a plan. 

remove lichen and mold growth on metal roof

How to Remove Lichen from Roof?

Fortunately, there are safe and effective ways to clean lichens from rooftops.

Natural solutions

One strategy is to use natural solutions, such as a mixture of water and vinegar or water and baking soda, to scrub away the lichens gently.

Research formulated cleaners

Another option is to hire a professional cleaning company that uses non-toxic and biodegradable cleaners specifically formulated for tile roof cleaning. It's important to avoid using harsh chemicals or power washing, as these methods can damage the lichens and the roof itself. Researching and choosing a safe and appropriate cleaning method can ultimately save homeowners money in the long run by preventing costly roof repairs.

If you're dealing with roof lichens, it's important to approach their removal with care. Aggressive cleaning methods can damage your roof. Some species of lichens are even endangered! By choosing a safe and gentle cleaning method, you can effectively remove the lichens without causing harm to your roof or the environment. Plus, you'll likely extend the lifespan of your roof and prevent potential leaks, saving yourself the headache of expensive repairs down the road.

The safest way to clean roof lichens depends on your roof type, the severity of lichen growth, and your preferences. You'll be taking steps toward a healthier home and planet by choosing an effective and environmentally friendly method. Whether you choose a DIY solution or a professional cleaning service, research and select a strategy that aligns with your values and priorities.


residential roof cleaning

Choose the Right Cleaning Solution for Roof Shingles

If you're wondering what type of roof lichen cleaner to use, there are a few things to consider. First, it's important to understand what lichens are and how they can damage your roof. Lichens are a combination of algae and fungi that grow on roofs and other exterior surfaces. Lichen holds moisture which can cause harm to outdoor surfaces, especially your entire roof.

It's important to remove lichen before they cause more serious problems. When choosing a roof lichen cleaner, look for one designed to kill lichens and their spores. It's also important to select a cleaner that is safe for your roof material and won't harm surrounding plants or animals.

Lichens can be removed by using a combination of water and bleach solution or white vinegar. Both are effective in killing the lichen's roots. If you prefer a gentler solution, you can use plain water to remove the lichens, but it may not be as effective as a water and bleach/vinegar mixture.

Removing Lichen from Tile Roofs vs. Asphalt Roof Shingles

When removing lichen growing on roof tiles vs. asphalt shingles, the cleaning process can differ. When removing lichen growing on roof tiles vs. asphalt shingles, the cleaning process can differ. Roof tiles are usually treated with a pressurized cleaning system and then coated with a sealant. Asphalt shingles, on the other hand, should be sprayed with a mixture of water and chlorine bleach that is left to sit for 15 minutes before being scrubbed off or power-washed away. It's important not to use harsh chemicals on roof tiles as they can damage the surface. Always check with a professional roofer before attempting to clean any type of roofing material.

Apply the Cleaning Solution

Once you have chosen your cleaning solution, apply it to the affected areas of your roof using a garden sprayer or a soft-bristled brush. Be careful not to apply too much pressure to your tile or asphalt shingles, as it may loosen them from the roof.


lichens on roof

Wait and Rinse

After applying the cleaning solution to your roof, let it sit for at least 20-30 minutes to allow the mixture to penetrate the lichen's root system. Then, rinse off the solution from your roof using a hose. Be sure to rinse your plants and surrounding areas below your gutters to avoid any harm from the cleaning solution.

Preventing Future Lichen Regrowth

Lichens can be a major eyesore on your roof, and it's important to prevent their growth before it becomes a larger problem. To start, keeping your roof clean is important by regularly sweeping away debris and removing any standing water. When selecting roofing materials, opt for ones with anti-microbial properties, which can help inhibit lichens' growth.

Additionally, trimming any overhanging branches can prevent moisture buildup on your roof and hinder the growth of lichens. Taking these preventative measures saves you time and money in the long run, as roof lichen removal can be costly and time-consuming.

Not all lichens are harmful to your roof, but some species belonging to the Trapelia can cause serious damage over time. If you notice any lichen growth on your roof, it's best to act quickly by contacting a roofing professional. They can diagnose the type of lichen and determine the best course of action for its removal or management. Sometimes, a simple pressure washer or chemical treatment can get the job done, but in others, your roof may need to be replaced. It's always better to be safe than sorry, especially regarding your home and family's well-being.

While applying DIY lichen-removing solutions to your roof may seem like a good idea, it's best to leave the job to the professionals. Chemicals like bleach and copper sulfate may initially seem effective, but they can cause long-term damage to your roof and the environment. It's also important to remember that lichen growth is often a symptom of a larger roofing issue, such as poor ventilation or improper installation. Working with a roofing professional can get to the root of the problem and ensure your roof stays healthy and lichen-free for years.


roof cleaning

Why is it Important to Prevent Lichens?

Lichens are a common plant that grows on roofs, particularly shingles. They can fuse themselves to the roof's surface and spread quickly, leading to problems such as roof erosion, water damage, and reduced insulation.

The accumulation of debris from lichens can also lead to clogged gutters, which can cause water to seep into the foundation of a building. Therefore, it is crucial to prevent the growth of lichens to maintain the structure's integrity and prevent costly repairs.

Aside from its detrimental effects on the roof, lichens can compromise a property's aesthetic value. A roof covered in lichens can give the impression of neglect and affect a home's overall image. The appearance of a home provides a sense of pride for homeowners, and a clean roof can create a positive impression on potential buyers, neighbors, and guests. Therefore, preventing lichen growth can help maintain the roof's appearance, which is essential to maintaining a home's value and creating a sense of pride for the homeowner.

Overall, preventing lichens is not just an aesthetic concern but a matter of preserving the structural integrity of a building. Consistently monitoring and removing any traces of lichen growth while ensuring that the conditions for their development are eliminated can prevent roof damage and save homeowners from costly repairs. To maintain the value and appearance of your property, it is crucial to take proactive measures to keep lichens at bay.


Although they might seem innocent enough, lichens can cause a lot of damage over the long term. When following the aforementioned steps, you can prevent your roof from falling prey to costly repairs. Make sure you keep safety and high-quality cleaning solutions at the forefront of your lichen-cleanup project. Always keep in mind prevention is better than cure!

About Tampa Bay Roof Cleaning

We hope you've enjoyed this information about how to remove lichen! Tampa Bay Roof Cleaning has over 20 years of specialized experience in the pressure washing arena. The team is highly motivated to clean all residential and commercial exteriors, including rooftops, sidewalks, driveways, and more. Please call today to schedule a FREE estimate.

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