How to Clean Your Gutters in 5 Steps

What is gutter cleaning and why is it important?

It doesn’t take more than a few hours, but cleaning your gutters is a great way to prevent water damage to your home, which could require a costly repair in the future.

If your home has rain gutters installed, this gutter system guides the flow of rainwater and melting snow from the rooflines. When working properly, this protects your home’s roofing, walls, foundation, and even your landscaping.

A blockage in a downpipe or an abundance of debris in the gutters can lead to a variety of issues. For example, the extra weight could lead to sagging gutters, which can in time detach gutters from your home. The wet debris creates mold growth and sometimes a cozy home for rodents or other pests. Any water or moisture trapped on the exterior of your home should be avoided and cleaning your gutters is one way to prevent that!

Ideally, you can find a few hours twice a year to dedicate to gutter maintenance. Early Spring and late Fall are two important times to clean your gutters. In the early Spring, you will prepare your home for heavy Spring and Summer rain and prevent clogging.

If you live in an area with snow and ice, any trapped water can freeze, creating a dam and more issues over time. Additional gutter cleaning may be necessary if your home is surrounded by pine trees or any type of tree as there would be more leaves collected leading to more clogs.

Prior to cleaning your gutters, it is important to make sure you have all the tools and safety equipment needed. This guide will provide you with a checklist of those items, and a step-by-step guide to cleaning your gutters, plus any cleaning tips. If you find this homeowner’s task is out of your skillset, you can hire a cleaning service to do this for you.


The Best Tools to Clean a Gutter

If you do a lot of DIY projects, chances are you have most of the tools around your home, in the garage, or shed needed to clean your gutters. The list is pretty concise, here is what our experts recommend using to successfully clean your gutters.

1. A Ladder. step ladder will help you to reach any first floor gutters. For cleaning gutters on a two-story home, you will need an extension ladder. Be sure to practice ladder safety when working on a ladder. Make sure your ladder is positioned on level ground and use a stabilizer if needed. It is also important to remember not to climb above the second to last step. It doesn’t hurt to let someone know you’re climbing a ladder to keep an eye out for your safety.

2. Work Gloves. Cleaning out gutters can be a messy job. If it has recently rained, we recommend waiting a few days until the debris in the gutters can dry a bit, which will make the whole process easier. We also suggest wearing a pair of work gloves. There are a few options that are appropriate for this task, and it is your preference for what you’d like to use. A pair of work gloves will help protect your hands from any sharp pieces of debris and increase your grip on any tools you might be using. We suggest a pair of poly-cotton dipped gloves or leather work gloves.

3. A 5-Gallon Bucket. To collect the gunk, debris, and any blockages you pull out from your gutters and downspouts, you can use a 5-gallon bucket. For larger messes and a surface to empty your bucket on, a plastic tarp works well.

4. A Hose and Gutter Wash. If you are looking to wash your gutters after you have removed any leaves, sticks, and other debris, using a garden hose and gutter wash can remove any additional dirt, mold, and mildew.

5. A Pressure Washer. As an alternative, a pressure washer is another option for effective cleaning.

6. Gutter Guards. If you are finding a downspout blockage or debris build-up consistently in one place, it might be time to upgrade by installing gutter guards as a way to protect against blockages and debris build-up. We have put together a guide on The Best Gutter Guards to Protect your Gutters, which offers solutions for this problem.


5 Steps to Clean Your Gutters

Once you have collected all the gutter cleaning tools necessary to perform this home improvement project from your local hardware store or on, you are ready to get started.

Step 1

First, ensure your step-ladder or extension ladder is safely placed on the ground before you climb. Any tools can be placed in a bucket you attach to your ladder which helps to limit trips up and down. With your gloves on, use your hands to remove gunk and debris from the gutters. You can also use a garden trowel if you find using your hands isn’t working for any compacted debris. If you have a second bucket attached to your ladder you can put it in there, or toss it down to the tarp you have spread out below for collection.

Step 2

Once you have removed all debris from the gutters, it is time to use your garden hose to flush the gutters and the downspouts. This will confirm there are no blockages and also reveal any leaks. This is also a good time to put on safety glasses, if you have a pair. When using the hose to clean out remaining dirt and debris, make sure you spray carefully. Start from the far end of the gutter, working toward the downspout. You want to avoid spraying underneath the roof shingles as well as any fascia boards which can loosen them, trap water and cause damage.

Step 3

Next it is important to check the downspouts to make sure they are clear of blockages so water can flow out and away from the home’s foundation. If water isn’t coming through, use your garden hose to spray water down the spout. You can also try to loosen anything up by spraying the hose up the bottom of the downspout. If you are unable to dislodge the blockage, using a plumber’s snake can help.

Step 4

Now that your gutters are empty of debris and clear of blockages, check if they are properly attached to your home. Inspect each fastener to make sure it is securely attached on the fascia. If not, use support hangers to reinforce attachment. Gutters should slope ¼ inch every 10 feet toward the downspout to make sure water properly drains.

Step 5

Using a gutter sealant to fill in gutter joints and seams will prevent any water leakage that could cause water damage later on, but isn’t necessary every time you clean your gutters.

You are now prepared to take on the task of cleaning your gutters. A somewhat simple task, that can have a large impact on the maintenance of your home.


Related Products