5 Tips for the Best Way to Clean Gutters

Remove gunk from your gutters and clean downspouts with our quick-and-easy tips for cleaning gutters. Find out when to clean your gutters and what tools you’ll need to get the job done. 

Cleaning the gutters

Taking care of your roof is essential and should be at the top of your home maintenance checklist. Proper gutter maintenance can help prevent:

  • Water damage. Gutters help to whisk away water from rain and melting snow. If they’re clogged, the water has nowhere to go; so it just collects, slowly seeping into the exterior and eventually the interior of your home. Make sure to check out roof warranty coverage from American Home Shield to help with roof repair.

  • Pest problems. Leaves and gunk are prime real estate for wildlife like bees, wasps, birds, and rodents. Cleaning out the gutters will encourage them to make their home elsewhere. 

  • Foundation issues. Pooling water from a clogged gutter is bad news for your home. It not only affects your roof but can also damage the foundation, which is a nightmare to fix and can cost a small fortune. 

How often to clean gutters depends on how many and what types of trees you have around your home. If you’re surrounded by pine trees, the needles likely will need to be removed about four times a year. If you have less foliage, twice-yearly may be enough. The best time to clean your gutters is in the spring and fall, so you don’t have to worry about ice. 

American Home Shield has some tricks to accomplish this task quickly and efficiently—maybe you’ll even have some fun getting your gloved hands dirty. Here are some tips for how to clean gutters. 

1. Review your options. 

Before embarking on your gutter-cleaning journey, decide whether or not it’s worth it for you to do this task yourself. If you have to get on the roof to clean your gutters and have trouble keeping your balance or get vertigo, you may be better off hiring a professional. The average cost to clean gutters is $0.40–$2.15 per linear foot. The price may be worth it to prevent a fall. 

To help you clean gutters from the ground, you can use tools like the gutter cleaning spoon, the extendable Guttermaster pole, or even a wet/dry vacuum with a long hose. Prevention is also crucial—keeping your trees trimmed and using gutter guards are two of the best ways to keep your gutters clean year-round. 

2. Get your supplies ready. 

Investing in the right gutter-cleaning tools can save you time and help you get to the gutters you can’t reach—but a lot of equipment isn’t necessary. To clean your gutters safely and efficiently, you will need:

  • Comfortable shoes  

  • Old clothes you don’t mind getting dirty

  • Water-resistant work gloves

  • Safety glasses

  • A gutter scoop (a trowel or your hands will work, but a scoop is much more efficient)

  • A sturdy ladder with stabilizers 

  • A hose (preferably one with a high-pressure nozzle attached)

  • A bucket or trash can 

3. Time to de-gunk.

After situating yourself on the ladder and making sure your hose isn’t a tripping hazard, it’s time to dig in. (Alternatively, you can use the extendable gutter-cleaning tools from the ground.) If you have a downspout strainer, remove and clean it thoroughly. Then, pick out any large twigs or debris. After that, use your gutter scoop to dig out all of the rotting vegetation. Discard it in your bucket or trash can, or put it in your compost. 

Cleaning out gutters can be a tedious job, but resist the urge to lean over too far while on your ladder to get more gunk. Always move your ladder so you can clean safely. You should also never lean the ladder against the gutters themselves. Instead, find a stable resting point. Use the 4-to-1 rule: the ladder’s base should be placed one foot away from your house for every four feet the ladder rises. 

4. Hose it down.

Use your hose to spray away the remaining gunk, paying careful attention to your downspouts. You’ll want to blast away any clogs. If the hose doesn’t cut it, you can try an auger. Avoid power snakes—while they can clear metal pipes, they can easily damage lightweight plastic pipes.

5. Check for wear and tear.

Finally, check your gutter attachments, then examine your gutters and look for possible leaks caused by holes in the seams. A silicone sealant can help secure the area between the gutters and potentially rotting boards. Also, check the rivets on your downspout and make sure they’re secure.

When it’s time for some outdoor maintenance, remember this list of the best way to clean your gutters. Clearing your gutters protects your home from damage and keeps it in tip-top shape. 

American Home Shield helps you take care of your home, both inside and out. We provide tips on everything from winter care lawn tips to home-buying advice.

AHS assumes no responsibility, and specifically disclaims all liability, for your use of any and all information contained herein.

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