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How to Clean Gutters: With or Without a Ladder

A clogged gutter is a dangerous gutter. 

When gutters are clogged, they can’t direct water away from your home properly. Gutters full of debris can cause moisture damage inside the home.

But cleaning gutters sounds like an overwhelming task — where do you start? We’ve put together a handy guide sharing a few different ways for how to clean your gutters.

Key Takeaways

  • Use a ladder and garden hose to clean gutters effectively and safely.
  • Remove debris using a trowel or gutter scoop, and check downspouts for clogs.
  • Alternative methods include pressure washers and wet/dry vacuums with attachments.
  • Clean gutters twice a year to prevent moisture damage to your home.

What Is the Best Thing to Clean Gutters With?

We recommend using a ladder and a garden hose. This is enough to clean the gutters without causing damage that you might experience from a pressure washer. Plus, having a ladder to help you allows you to see that the gutters are definitely clean.

How to Clean Gutters

We’ll share our top method for cleaning gutters with you, providing a list of important supplies and step-by-step instructions.

What You Need

  • A ladder, tall enough to see over the gutters.
  • A garden hose with a spray nozzle.
  • Safety glasses and gloves.
  • Trowel or gutter scoop.
  • Bucket.
  • Trash bags.
  • Tarp.

Step by Step Instructions

Let’s get into our favorite method.

  1. First of all, put down a tarp. This will protect your yard from fallen debris. Plus, it makes it easier to collect later.
  2. Put on your safety glasses and gloves.
  3. Set up your ladder. Make sure you’re clued up on general ladder safety. If using an extension ladder, make sure to have a ladder stabilizer. As an extra precaution, have someone at the bottom spotting you. If you’re not familiar with using ladders, we recommend hiring a professional.
  4. Take a bucket and a trowel or gutter scoop, and climb the ladder. You can hook the bucket to the top of the ladder. Use your trowel or gutter scoop to get rid of big clumps of debris in the gutters. Place it in the bucket.
  5. Once the debris is out the way, climb back down the ladder and get your garden hose. Start at the far end and move towards the downspout, spraying the gutters to clean them well. Don’t spray underneath the roof shingles.
  6. Now your gutters are clean, but it’s important to check the downspouts. Spray your garden hose into the downspout. If there is a clog somewhere, climb back down your ladder and feed your garden hose up the downspout until you hit the clog.
  7. Turn the hose on to dislodge it.
  8. If this doesn’t work, use a plumber’s snake to dislodge the clog.
  9. Dispose of all the waste you collected. Make sure to empty what’s on your tarp into bags and dispose of it according to your local regulations.

Voila! Your gutters are now clean and free of clogs.

Other Ways to Clean Gutters

Perhaps you don’t have one of these tools, or maybe you just want to try a different method. We have a few other approaches you could take.

How to Clean Gutters With a Pressure Washer

Follow the same steps as above but swap out the garden hose for a pressure washer. This is ideal if you have mold and mildew build-up since the high pressure can blast this away.

On another note, if you don’t have a ladder, you can buy a gutter and pipe accessory for your pressure washer so you can clean from the ground.

How to Clean Gutters With a Wet/Dry Vacuum

This is another option that works from the ground since many hardware or home improvement stores sell curved attachments. Wet/dry vacuums let you clean gutters while standing on the ground. With this, you basically vacuum all the debris in the gutter up, like you do when vacuuming the floors in your home.

You may need to wet the debris beforehand with your garden hose, but this is a fun and efficient experiment to try.

How to Clean Gutters by Hand

Don’t have any gutter cleaning tools? You can definitely clean gutters by hand. It just might take a little longer.

As mentioned in our favorite method, you’ll still need a ladder, a bucket and a gutter scoop to get rid of the debris, first. Then use a bucket with soapy water and a cloth or sponge to clean the gutters by hand, scrubbing hard on stubborn dirt.

Top Tip

When in doubt or without access to tools, you can always hire a professional who will do an excellent job. They also have safety measures in place, which is less risky than you doing it yourself, if you’ve not got the proper training.

FAQs on How to Clean Gutters

What Happens If You Never Clean Your Gutters?

All the debris, such as leaves, twigs, and even dead animals, can create clogs in the gutters.

When it rains or snows, the water can’t drain properly. It will build up and eventually seep into your home. This can cause moisture damage to your roof, walls, and the interior of your house.

How Do I Know If Gutters Need Cleaning?

The biggest telltale sign will be that you can see the debris when you’re standing on the ground. If you can visibly see leaves and other debris from your gutters, then you know it’s time for a good clean.

On the other hand, you should get to your gutters before they are in this state. We recommend cleaning your gutters once at the end of spring and once again at the end of fall. This is because your gutters will quickly fill up with the floral droppings from spring and the leaf droppings from fall.

How Do You Clean Gutters Without a Ladder?

As mentioned above, you can get curved attachments for vacuums, or you can use a gutter and pipe accessory for pressure washers.

You’ll also find specialist gutter cleans, which is basically a long pole attached to a hose. It has a 180-degree bend, so you can hang it over your gutter and clean it from the ground.

Top Tip

When you clean gutters without a ladder, you can’t see if they’re definitely clean. That’s why we recommend a ladder as the best way to clean your gutters.

How Do You Remove Black Stains From Gutters?

At first glance, you might think those black stains are mold or mildew. But they’re not. They’re actually caused by a chemical reaction between two materials: the asphalt in your roof shingles and the aluminum gutters (1).

You can diminish them with products such as Gutter Butter or Gutter Zap, but they may not completely remove the marks.

How Much Should I Pay to Have My Gutters Cleaned?

If you hire a professional, you can expect it to cost between $70 and $425, depending on the size of your home (2). The general rule is $1 per linear foot for single-story homes or $2 per linear foot for two-story homes.

Is it OK to Lean a Ladder On a Gutter?

It’s not ok to lean a ladder against a gutter because if the gutter snaps or gives way, you could fall from the ladder and sustain serious injuries. Always find a stable point to rest the ladder against.

Do I Need to Clean Gutters If I Don’t Have Trees?

You do need to clean gutters if you don’t have trees because leaves and debris gets blown on the wind and still find their way into your gutters. Also, birds carry berries and seeds that can. become lodged in your gutters. If there is mulch present, they begin to grow.

Don’t Gutter Out This Chore

While this may seem like a boring chore, it’s a very important one that you should do at least twice a year. Don’t neglect it. If so, it could lead to some serious moisture damage in the home.

The easiest and most efficient way to do this is with a ladder and a garden hose.

However, if you have the cash for it and don’t want to do this job yourself, you can definitely hire a professional who will safely and effectively clean the gutters for you.

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About the Author

Beth McCallum

Beth McCallum is a freelance writer & book blogger with a degree in creative writing, journalism, and English literature. Beth firmly believes that a tidy house is a tidy mind. She is always looking for new ways to sustainably clean and tidy her house, that's kind on the environment but effective in the house, too!