Sunday, April 18th, 2021

Shopper Client Stories


Mickey Ferrell knows that a clean house starts at the top

by Kathy Van Mullekom

Mickey Ferrell, owner of Sudsy House Washing

Mickey Ferrell, owner of Sudsy House Washing

Mickey Ferrell loves instantaneous results. After soft washing a house, he experiences a feeling of deep satisfaction. A home that may have gone unnoticed by passers-by just a few hours earlier is suddenly a sparkling eye-catcher. Add some of the other excellent services available from Sudsy House Washing—like washing windows, fences, and even driveways—and a house looks almost new.

Almost that is, except for the roof.

“Usually, people don’t give much thought to roof cleaning,” Mickey explains, “because shingles tend to get dirty more slowly and uniformly than siding. Siding may turn green and become an eyesore annually, but mold and algae on a roof dulls its appearance so slowly, you might not notice for a long time. I cleaned one roof that the client thought was slate-colored but was actually light grey. Another client had no idea his roof was tan. No matter the color, the house looks ten times better after the roof is cleaned.”

Readers may notice that the company’s name refers to “house washing,” not “power washing.” There’s a good reason for that. High power washing, at 4000 pounds of water pressure per square inch, will undoubtedly remove dirt and grime but also blast paint off trim, break window seals and force water behind siding where moisture can cause damage later on. Soft washing (“house washing”) with detergent and a low-pressure water pump removes destructive bacteria, mold, and mildew without damaging a house.

When asked about the notion that jet fuel from overhead airplanes is responsible for those unsightly dark stains on roofs, Mickey chuckles.  

“I think we have to chalk that up to science fiction,” he says. “Most roof stains are caused by airborne algae called gloeocapsa magma. It’s dark in color because it forms a shell to protect itself from UV light. That’s why most of the stains are on the north and east sides of a house, while the southern exposures have less noticeable stains. Like all algae, gloeocapsa magma thrives in wet conditions, out of direct sunlight.”

To keep a roof looking its best, Mickey suggests cleaning it every five to 10 years to remove moss, lichens, and streak-causing black mold. Cleaning frequency depends on whether trees shade and drop sap and leaves on the roof and whether acidic pine needles do their dirty work on the shingles.  

Before Mickey ever begins cleaning a roof, he first waters any plants around the house’s perimeter. This process makes sure the plants absorb as much freshwater as possible to keep them safe. Sensitive plants such as Japanese maples are covered with tarps. A collection system at the bottom of each downspout captures any potential roof runoff.

To clean a roof, Mickey and his helper work on ladders from the gutter edges.  They apply a soap mixture with anti-microbial properties to kill the mold’s organic growth. The application sets for 30 minutes or so, and then it is lightly rinsed off. “The roof will look great when we leave for the day,” Mickey points out, “but it will need a rain or two to complete the process.”

“Most people will admit
that they didn’t know
 you even needed to clean a roof,
but they always comment
on the big improvement it makes.”
                                                 —Mickey Ferrell

Sometimes while working, Mickey attracts the interest of curious neighbors or even people driving through the neighborhood.

“Most people will admit that they didn’t know you even needed to clean a roof,” he says, “but they always comment on the big improvement it makes.”

Sudsy House Washing and Roof Cleaning services homes throughout all of Southside Hampton Roads and the Moyock area of North Carolina. Last spring, Mickey planned to add more crews but put that expansion on hold due to COVID. Despite the pandemic’s uncertainty, Mickey describes last year as having been “busy-busy,” and so far, this year has been much the same.”

Early spring through late fall is the prime season for house washing. Mickey and an assistant tackle the jobs, and Trey, his 15-year-old son, will come on board to help this summer.  

“Trey has a strong work ethic, probably stronger than I had at his age,” Mickey says with pride. “He makes the day go much smoother when he’s helping out by taking care of the small tasks that add up: keeping the hoses organized and untangled, fetching things from the truck, keeping the plants watered while we’re working, and cleaning up the tools when we’re wrapping up. Trey not only saves me some time by doing those things but makes the day better by tackling the small irritations. He has a knack for anticipating what needs to be done without me having to direct him much anymore. Working together also gives us some quality time where I can learn more about him. There’s something about manual work that is bonding.”

Since COVID quarantines began, Mickey has offered homeowners contactless estimates. This process started out as a precaution, but it has actually helped lower service costs because estimates are done faster with less driving.

Mickey is proud of all the little details that go into the care Sudsy House Washing provides.
“It’s satisfying to provide an almost instant improvement to a home’s appearance,” Mickey smiles. “I’m able to start in the morning, and by lunchtime, a house looks brand new. Most major home improvement projects take days or weeks and cost thousands, while a good soft cleaning is a fraction of the cost and time. We offer concise price estimates, fast scheduling of services, and clear communication. Clients will know when to expect us, and we promise that they’ll be satisfied with the final results.”

Sudsy House Washing