Ladder safety for roof cleaning

Full disclosure - I’m a newbie for sure and I don’t even have any equipment yet but at this point in the season I’m not in a rush. Winter will be here soon enough and even though I am in Southern Ontario, I’m still in Canada so freezing and ice/snow is a reality. I anticipate being up and running in time for the springtime thaw but in the meantime I’m spending a lot of time researching and planning.

In my area there don’t seem to be many (or any at all) contractors offering soft wash services - a few farm equipment washing guys, a painting contractor that offers to pressure wash siding as painting prep and of course the handyman that does everything possible super cheap. I think there’s a real opportunity and I’m getting excited about it.

The biggest challenge is that in my area MANY work in industrial/refinery environments. On the surface this is not a problem except that the perceived standard for safety in a workplace is much higher than anywhere else that I’ve ever heard of. I’m all about safety (preciously had a company with no lost time injuries with over 2 million man hours of labour because we made safety a priority). In industrial environments to “concept” of safety can be taken to extremes - for example, both not wearing gloves AND holding the handrail when walking up/stairs is considered a significant safety violation. In this area any company (residential, commercial or industrial) working from or even using a ladder is almost non-existent as it’s considered dangerous. Walking on a roof is almost never acceptable (even most roofing contractors have to use fall arrest systems).

So I’m trying to wrap my mind around how to perform roof cleaning…

How practical is it to clean roofs from ground level? I anticipate most of you will say it’s not a great idea. If working from a ladder, what do you do to make it safer to stop tipping, sliding and for dealing with uneven ground? I’ve seen the devices that hook on a ladder to keep the rails off a wall, roof and evestrough/gutter at the top but what do you do about uneven ground at the bottom?

EDIT - I realize the standards for ‘safe’ behaviour depend somewhat on where you are located so I’m not looking to criticise anyone who walks on roofs or anything like that - I do think it’s possible to walk a roof and be safe at the same time. Ultimately I’ll only offer roof cleaning if I can do it in a way that’s both actually safe and also has the perception of being safe in the eyes of the customer. Just curious about what you do and how you do it.

As I said, I’m planning a lot and trying to think of every detail in order to decide what services I can or won’t offer.

1 Like

Hard to clean roofs from the ground. Use a ladder stabilizer and clean from the gutter line. Anything that attaches the ladder to the gutter(ie… hooks, bungie cords etc) is not safe. If you go on the roof, wear cougar paw boots and tie off. If you can’t make a living avoiding roofs, at least avoid the ones you have to walk, in my opnion.


Like said above…shoot from the gutter line, or if low pitch then you can walk if you feel comfortable.

If your just getting started I’d stick with house washes and concrete. Although roofs can be profitable it comes with a lot of added stress and safety factors.

In my company I am the only one that gets on roofs and does roof cleaning because of the Workmens comp and OSHA.


Thanks for the replies.

I checked the search and a few of you have used ladder stabilizers mounted to the top to stand off the ladder from the roof or eaves. Has anyone used ladder spurs (other names?) that go on the base of the ladder - seems to basically be a stabilizer for the bottom of the ladder?

If I decide to include roof washing, I will definitely shoot from the edge of the roof. As I mentioned, around here walking around on a roof (especially a wet/soapy roof) will get likely cause the neighbourhood busybody to anonymously call the provincial labour/safety inspectors. They aren’t fun to deal with - even when you haven’t done anything wrong.

I am very interested in roof washing. As far as I can tell nobody in this city has ever had or heard of roof washing. From driving around, there are plenty of roofs needing a good wash!

“Ladder levelers” are what you’re looking for.


Check around, sure there are some ladder safety courses up there. Check with your local fire dept. If nothing else maybe you can pay one of the guys to spend a couple of hours with you going over ladder safety and handling procedures.