Homemade Copper Roofing Cleaners

copper roofing underside

Copper roofing can be a beautiful touch to a building, whether the roof is clean and bright or possesses the characteristic green hue unique among roofing systems. However, copper roofs can also quickly become black and mucky looking. You can spiff up your dirty copper roofing by cleaning it with either of the following homemade techniques, avoiding the use of expensive commercial cleaners.

Homemade Overnight Cleaning Paste

It is possible to effectively clean your copper roof by making your own moderately acidic cleanser using common household items. You can create your own cleaning pastes out of either one of the following recipes:

  • Recipe 1: Equal parts vinegar (apple cider vinegar works best, but any white vinegar will do), flour, and table salt
  • Recipe 2: Tomato Ketchup

Keep in mind that you will need to leave whatever cleaning paste you decide to use on your roof overnight. This has two implications. First, you’ll need to clean your roof on a night without rain. Second, tomato ketchup, while effective, probably isn’t the best choice to slather on a roof overnight due to the smell, especially in warmer climates.

Once you have your cleaning paste made, you’ll need to apply it to your roof. This can be done with whatever tool you want, even your fingers. The only important thing here is to apply it evenly across the entire surface of the roof. Leave the paste to break up the grime overnight - or for 8 hours minimum.

When enough time has passed, rinse off the roof with warm, soapy water and then rinse off the roof again with fresh water. Use a clean towel to dry and polish the roof.

Quick Lemon Juice Scrub

roof window made of copper

If you need your copper roof cleaned in a single day and don't mind applying a little elbow grease, you can clean it with a lemon juice scrub.

To make it, combine three parts lemon juice to one part coarse salt. Don’t use table salt, as it will dissolve and reduce the effectiveness of the scrub. Use a hard, nonmetallic scrub brush with a lot of force to scrub the lemon-salt grit into your roof. You don’t need to worry about scratching your roof as long as your scrub brush has fiber bristles, not metal, so throw your full weight behind it.

It’s best to start at the top of your roof and work your way down, as runoff which leaks onto the lower part of the roof will have a little time to penetrate the grime and make your job easier. Once you are done scrubbing your roof, rinse it with fresh water, while being careful not to touch it with your hands.

Congratulations, your copper roof is beautifully cleaned. You can help keep it that way by applying a clear lacquer or polyurethane spray once it is completely dry.