How to Clean Gutters

clean gutters

Wondering how to clean gutters since you’ve probably realized they’re filled with all the debris your trees have shed? Gutters should be cleaned at least twice a year, more often if you have a large number of older trees around your home. If you’re considering how to clean gutters, you”ll want to make sure you have a few essential tools.

How to Clean Gutters With the Right Tools

First things first.  You may want to download our free gutter cleaning guide so you’ve got a 5 minute read that prepares you for the job at hand.  Have the knowledge right in your head before you  get started and the whole project will go swiftly.  You’ll also want to know how to clean your gutters with the right tools at hand.  Here’s our basic list:

How to Clean Gutters

How to clean gutters – It’s smart to have someone at the bottom of the ladder to hold it steady for the person doing the gutter cleaning.

  • Ladder – The ladder should extend higher than the gutter you are attempting to clean. Use a sturdy ladder, not a stepstool or ladder designed to be used indoors and be sure that it is on solid, level ground. As you move the ladder to reach a new area, be sure that you have it placed securely. Climbing and working on a ladder can be tricky and dangerous. It is helpful to have a buddy to hold the ladder to support you while you climb up or stand on a ladder.  See more of our ladder tips HERE.
  • Gloves – Months of leaves and other debris will be wet, messy and full of decaying organic material which leads to mildew and bacteria. Let’s be honest and note that birds and animals have been up there and who knows what they’ve done in your gutters. A good pair of waterproof work gloves or good quality latex/surgical gloves will help protect your hands from any contaminants.
  • Scoop or Trowel – To touch the mess or not, that is the question. You’re likely to find a special scoop designed to clean gutters at your local hardware or box store. More likely, you’ve got a garden trowel lying around that will do the job just fine with no extra investment (we know, you like your tools, but we like the idea of multi-tasking even more). Your hands alone can scoop but a trowel or some type of “scooper” may make the job a little less off-putting.
  • Plastic trash bag or bucket – Be extra careful if both your hands are in use scooping and holding the trash container while up on the ladder. A safer alternative is to attach the bag or bucket to the ladder or to toss debris to the ground for later collection in a bag. Note that if this debris is wet and sloppy, you could find it splashed onto your home. Consider also the fact that you’ll be doing a lot more work cleaning up the ground if it’s thrown there.
  • Brush – Residue remaining after debris removal may not clog your gutters, but you can just imagine what the mold and mildew may smell like. We love to see people commenting on gutter cleaning on Twitter, it’s obvious that they’re just not prepared for the smell. Don’t leave this scum behind: use a brush to scrub it out of the inside of the trough. All of you tool guys will find special brushes made for this purpose or all of you multi-taskers can use any type of water resistant brush that fits into the gutters. Believe it or not, a toilet brush can do just fine and keep your nose at a safe distance from the muck.
  • Hose – A garden hose can be used to spray out any residual residue and clear out any clogged downspouts. By flushing out any remaining debris in the gutters, you’ll have them in good shape for the season. Consider a final test of your downspout: drop a small pebble down from the top and make sure you hear it ping all the way down to the bottom, If it does, your downspout is clear.

There are other tools and cleaning kits made specifically for gutter cleaning. It’s a dirty job, so it’s not surprising that long handle tools or flushers exist. You may feel they make the job a little bit easier, but the tools that you already have around your home will often work just as well. With gutter cleaning being such a dirty job, and climbing ladders and dealing with working at some scary heights being uncomfortable to so many, you may consider a gutter guard worth the investment.

Most importantly, go slowly, take care and be safe!