How Do You Clean an Asbestos Roof?

Updated April 17, 2017

When preparing to clean your asbestos roofing, it's important to prepare accordingly and understand the importance of safety when working with this hazardous material. Asbestos is a naturally occurring substance that was used extensively in construction products in the past. Asbestos-containing objects in your environment are potentially dangerous when the fibres that make up the material are exposed and inhaled into the lungs. According to the EPA, asbestos roofing is not likely to release fibres unless cut, drilled or sawn.

Secure the end of the ladder on a stable, flat surface, preferably the soil or grass. Put up the extension section of the ladder to a height of 2 or 3 feet above the start of the roof.

Climb to the top of the ladder and securely tie the ¾ inch rope to the uppermost step of the ladder. Throw the rope over the spine of the roof. Search for a suitable anchor and secure the rope to it.

Put on the protective mask and rubber gloves. Fill the bucket with water and add the appropriate amount of surface biocide by following the directions on the container for the surface area of the roof.

Attach the handle of the bucket to an upper step of the ladder with the metal hook to make it easier to wet the mop. Use the mop to completely cover the surface of the roof with the mixture. Let the chemical work on the dirt and plant matter for 30 minutes.

Wash off the roof with the hose. Clean out the bucket and mix the outdoor surface cleaner with the recommended amount of water.

Mop the roof again with this mixture. Do not allow the cleaning fluid to dry as it is much easier to remove the dirt when working with a wet surface.

Use the hard plastic bristle brush to gently scrub all dirt and plant matter from the asbestos roofing. Utilise the nonmetal trowel to dig into the corners where plant roots have set. Place all large plant matter in plastic bags.

Wipe the roof down with a rag and fresh water to remove any existing debris. Hose the entire surface off.

Collect all debris that may have fallen to the ground and place it in the plastic bag along with your gloves, face mask, brush, rags and mop head.

Seal the plastic bags containing debris and place them in a secure garbage area. Untie the rope from the anchor and take the ladder off the roof.


Tree trunks and metal railings make safe anchors for the rope. The dead spots of lichen are very difficult to remove and should be left in place if they do not come up. For greater safety when working with asbestos, a full body breathable chemical prevention suit is best. They're made from disposable cloth and are available from most large paint stores.


When scrubbing away the plant matter from the roof, don't use too much force, or you will remove asbestos fibres from the top layer of the roofing. Thoroughly wash away any residue that drips down onto plants, grasses and walkways with fresh water. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Organization, repeated exposure to asbestos can increase your risk of cancer of the lung tissue and mesothelioma, a cancer of thin membranes around the lung and other internal organs.

Things You'll Need

  • Extension ladder
  • 3/4 inch rope or thicker
  • Garden hose
  • Large bucket with handle
  • Protective mask
  • Rubber gloves
  • Surface biocide
  • Mop
  • Double-ended metal hook
  • Outdoor surface cleaner
  • Hard plastic bristle brush
  • Nonmetal trowel
  • Rags
  • Large plastic bags
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About the Author

Agustus Miller has been living and writing professionally in Brooklyn, N.Y., since 2005. He has contributed to publications such as "The Brooklyn Star" and Mountain Xpress. Miller holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature and creative writing from the University of North Carolina.