If it’s Spring or Fall (or after a big storm), it’s gutter cleaning time. It’s usually not something you look forward to, especially if you live in a tree-heavy area. But, unless you want to drop a few hundred dollars to repair your gutters, it’s time to get on top of your gutter cleaning duties. Neglect is a top reason repairs are needed in the first place.

Here are several of our favorite gutter cleaning tricks to make your life easier.

Safety Comes First

Not every job requires a ladder; but if it does, we want everyone to be as careful as possible. For one-story homes, several devices can be found to assist with cleaning, like an extension pole with a scoop on the end that will help scoop debris. It is not ideal, because there is guesswork involved and you are not seeing the insides of the gutters with your eyes.

The first step in DIY gutter cleaning is focused on safety, because having clean gutters is far less important than preventing injury. If you are not physically capable of safely climbing and remaining on a ladder for extended periods of time, please do not risk it, and instead call professionals. The same applies if you are near power lines or do not feel safe up there.

There are plenty of safety tips out there for you to choose from, but here are some basics:

  1. You should always let someone know you’ll be working on the ladder to clean the gutters. Have them check on you often.
  2. It’s best to have someone holding the ladder for you, in case something happens. Make sure they have access to a phone and know who to call in case of emergency.
  3. For a single-story structure, a four-legged stepladder works well, especially one with a sturdy shelf that can hold a five-gallon bucket to collect your gutter debris.
  4. Do not use an orchard ladder. Orchard ladders have three legs and can become unbalanced. Also, wooden ladders are often wobbly, especially older ones.
  5. If you have a plastic sheet on the ground for tossing down debris, make sure the ladder isn’t on top of the plastic, creating less traction for the ladder feet. Also, make sure the ladder is on even ground or use a ladder that has a leveling feature.
  6. Use gloves, as you’ll be working with piles of debris and they can contain sharp edges or ends. Consider using waterproof gloves (like rubber gloves) underneath the work gloves as water will be used to clear unreachable areas and also for testing once cleaning is completed.
  7. Since you don’t know what will come flying out of the gutter or in what direction, make sure to wear eye protection. Safety glasses or goggles are always preferable to meeting wasps, rats, birds, and frogs without protected eyes.

The Garden Hose Is Your Friend

You should check your gutters at two points: before you start cleaning and after you’ve finished. Checking before cleaning will let you know how big a job this will be and if you can expect any challenges. And checking after you clean will help make sure that you haven’t missed anything, and will also show any leaks.

If you are up on the ladder and the gutters are full, a trowel or specialized scoop is a good tool for digging out debris. Make sure to clear the areas near the downspout opening, where clogging problems begin. Also, if the downspout itself is clogged, a tool like a plumber’s auger/snake can be very useful for punching through the lodged trash or debris and clearing the area without needing to remove the downspout.

If you’re using a hose to help clean the gutters, make sure to use a hose with a pistol-grip spray nozzle. This will allow you to adjust water pressure with one hand, which is useful if you’re on a ladder. If you notice standing water after the gutters are cleaned, there may be an issue with the angle of your gutters, as they should have been installed on a mild decline for the water to flow downhill and into the downspout.

As you’re cleaning, remember to be aware of the gutter guards. And if you don’t have gutter guards, here are our picks for the best gutter guards to keep leaves out.

Protect Your Hands and Eyes

Cleaning your gutters isn’t just about removing rotting leaves. Rotting leaf debris in your gutters often contains bird and squirrel droppings—an invitation for a bacterial infection.

So, don’t handle your gutters without wearing gloves. Besides keeping bacteria off your hands, they’ll help protect you from cuts. Using a suede material is ideal, as it helps prevent the water from soaking through to your hands.

Clean the Roof Too

Of course, cleaning the gutters isn’t just about cleaning the gutters. It’s also about cleaning the roof, where debris can hang out before it takes up residence in your gutters. Think of it like cleaning a vehicle where you’d start washing the car rooftop first and then wash downwards, so no new dirt finds its way to the lower parts of the car.

Before you start cleaning the gutters, you should clean the roof using a rake to clear away any leaves and debris. You can also use a power washer if you have access to one. A leaf blower can also do the trick if it is not too bulky or cumbersome or a safety issue. Leaf blower attachment kits are available for purchase for the specific task of cleaning roofs and gutters on one-story homes. Please read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Cleaning your roof first is only logical. If you don’t, all the debris on your roof will wind up in the gutters—after you spent all that time getting the gutters clear!

The Professionals Are Here for You

If you need a few more gutter cleaning tricks to get your gutters under control, we’ve got you covered. Or, if you need help cleaning the gutters, we can help with that too.

We have almost 50 years of experience in residential and commercial roofing and restoration services, including gutters. We’re licensed, insured, and ready to go. Get an estimate today!

Need A New Roof? Contact The Experts.

We’ve been working the residents of Southeastern Wisconsin since 1975. Contact us today for a quick quote on your roofing project.