Charlton tore apart sorry Preston after a devastating first-half performance.
The Addicks led when Johnnie Jackson followed up Danny Green's effort to score and doubled the advantage through Michael Morrison's close-range finish.
Jackson scored from the spot after Yann Kermorgant was fouled in the area by keeper Andreas Arestidou before Bradley Wright-Phillips headed home.
Danny Hollands headed in Rhoys Wiggins' centre for 5-0 before Craig Morgan and Keammar Daley scored consolation goals.
The comfortable victory sees Charlton stretch their lead at the top of League One to five points after Huddersfield drew with Walsall.
Preston, who have now conceded 18 goals in five games, are winless in seven league matches and are five points outside the play-offs.
The visitors had chances of their own in the first half but both Barry Nicholson and Paul Coutts fired narrowly wide and over respectively.
And the game was long over by the time Morgan headed home from Paul Parry's corner and Daley notched a superb strike after flicking the ball up and rifling home.