What is the Best Way to Clean Gutters?

Malcolm Tatum

If you are a homeowner, you know the benefits of keeping the gutters around the exterior of your home clear of any obstructions. While some homeowners delegate this task to a lawn and garden care service, it is possible to learn how to clean out gutters with relatively little effort. Here is the simplest and perhaps the best way to clean gutters quickly and efficiently.

Rain gutters must be cleaned out regularly.
Rain gutters must be cleaned out regularly.

One of the first steps in preparing to clean gutters is to gather the materials needed for the job. While many people are aware that a steady ladder and a garden hose are essentials, they are not always aware of other tools that may come in very handy during the process. Just to be on the safe side, assemble items such as a large wooden spoon, a simple garden trowel, and sturdy trash bags. Don’t forget a sturdy pair of garden gloves. Along with the ladder and garden hose, these items will prepare you for just about any type of obstruction you may find.

A ladder is a necessary tool for cleaning gutters.
A ladder is a necessary tool for cleaning gutters.

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With your tools assembled, begin the process by placing the ladder in a position that allows you to easily access the gutter system. In order to clean gutters effectively, it is important to place the ladder so that you can easily see into the gutters, and have both hands free to use your tools without losing your balance. Do not lean the ladder against lightweight aluminum or resin gutters, as this could cause damage to the system and create another chore that must be addressed.

Sturdy trash bags will be needed when cleaning gutters.
Sturdy trash bags will be needed when cleaning gutters.

The next step in learning how to clean gutters is understanding what type of obstructions to address first. Generally, it is a good idea to remove loose items such as leaves or twigs first. You can accomplish this by scooping loose debris from the gutter with your gloved hand or the garden trowel. Dump the debris into the trash bag as you go rather than simply tossing it to the ground. This will eliminate the need to rake the yard later.

Next, focus your attention on obstructions that are not easily moved. This can include dirt and debris that is caked onto the interior of the gutters. Use the garden hose to flush water into the gutters. This will moisten the obstruction and help free it from the walls of the gutter system. You can then use the trowel or spoon to scoop the obstruction out of the gutters with ease.

Don’t forget to address any obstructions found in the downspout. Use the garden hose to run a steady stream of water through the body of the downspout until you see a steady flow emerging at the opposite end. This is an important part of thoroughly cleaning a resin or aluminum gutter system, as an unobstructed downspout means less opportunity for the gutters to become clogged.

Along with knowing how to clean aluminum gutters and resin gutter systems, you also need to know how to clean the outside of gutters. Keeping the exposed area of the gutters free of debris and dirt will make it easier to identify any cracks or rusted areas that require some type of patching or replacement. Also inspect the exterior of the system as you clean gutters. This close-up view will sometimes reveal small problems that you would not notice from ground level, and you can repair them before they have a chance to become big problems.

Open gutters can be clogged by snow.
Open gutters can be clogged by snow.

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Discussion Comments


My rain gutters are about four metres high and I start shaking at only two metres.

What works for me is a GCB gutter tool extension to my wet/dry type vacuum cleaner. It is a long wand with a crook in the end. The product works as advertised and there is no need for a ladder.

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