Best Ways to Clean Gutters: 10 Tips That Really Help

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: November 1, 2019

Some seasonal chores around the house always seem like a big job. Climbing the ladder and tackling the gutters isn’t a project you look forward to, but you know you have to get it done.

Do you sometimes wish you knew the best way to clean gutters? Could you use a few tips and tricks?

We know you know the drill, but this is a job that’s a little easier when you’re armed with a few smart strategies. To help you avoid the soggy problems we often see as Chicago’s leading water damage restoration contractor, we offer our handy guide to cleaning dirty gutters.

10 Tips That Make Cleaning the Gutters Easier

cleaning clogged downspout
Clean debris off the roof with a rake; be careful as you climb up a latter.

Always take a look at the weather forecast before heading up to the roof. You don’t want to be surprised by an afternoon shower while you’re putting these 10 gutter cleaning tips to work.

1. Assemble Your Gear

Start with a ladder safety check. When you’re sure about the climb, assemble the following gear.

  • Heavy gloves and non-slip shoes
  • Plastic buckets with easy-grip handles
  • Ladder horns and heavy wire hooks
  • Trowel and gutter scoop

2. Check the Roof

Even the best-trimmed trees scatter leaves and small twigs across your roof year-round. Check for gutter-clogging litter that can complicate cleaning plans. Carefully clear debris off the roof with a rake or low-pressure power wash.

3. Begin Near a Downspout

Start digging out leaves and dirt near a downspout and work away from it along the gutter length. This keeps potential clogs from falling into the spout’s drop outlet. Be careful around gutter hangers and brackets.

Power Tip: Resist the temptation to fill your bucket to the brim. You don’t want it to splash gutter gunk on walls and windows down below while you’re working.

4. Attack Slime Buildup

One of the best ways to keep gutters from clogging is to get rid of the natural glue that makes them so sticky. Attack algae and fungus buildup with products formulated for cleaning gutter slime and mildew.

5. Clean the Downspout

Once you clear out the gutters, rinse the downspout with a garden hose. If you have to deal with cleaning a clogged downspout, pack a rag around the hose to seal it in the top of the spout, and blast out debris with water pressure.

6. Be Ready for Big Stuff

Be ready for any big surprises in the downspout with a plumber’s snake. If you run into a bird’s nest, squirrel’s stash or one of the kid’s tennis balls, this tool might save you the trouble of taking the downspout apart.

7. Give the System a Final Flush

Finish cleaning gutters and spouts with a steady rinse from the garden hose. Start the flush with medium pressure at a point farthest from the downspout, and let it run for 10 or 15 minutes.

Power Tip: As water flows through the system, watch gutters and downspouts for any signs of leaks.

8. Be Careful With Power Tools

Be careful with robot cleaners, leaf blowers and high-pressure washers. These power tools can scatter debris, loosen hangers and blast pinholes through gutters. Always follow instructions in product manuals, and use with caution.

9. Try Capping Off Downspouts

Ask a home improvement pro about how to keep leaves out of downspouts. His or her answer might be an easy-to-install plastic cover. A downspout screen does the job, but it can clog without regular maintenance and cleaning.

10. Think About Gutter Guards

gutter guard
There are many different gutter guard varieties on the market that can help prevent clogged gutters.

Ask that same home improvement pro about how to stop leaves from blocking gutters. DIY solutions range from mesh covers to screen installations. Before you decide on a permanent solution, investigate the pros and cons of different gutter guard systems.

It’s Really Worth It

The best way to keep gutters clean is to tackle the project knowing that you’re saving the house from potential flooding as well as these homeowner headaches:

  • Rotting soffits and fascia
  • Warped and buckled gutters
  • Eroded gardens and lawns
  • Foundation and basement damage

A little motivation can go a long way, so keep in mind that your hard work now and next spring pays off in fewer repair problems and a beautiful landscape.

Please Be Careful

keeping gutters clean

When you head up the ladder for gutter duty, please be careful. We want you to stay safe, so ask someone to keep an eye on you while you’re up there. If you have favorite tricks for cleaning the gutters, share them with our online community. Just post your tips in our Comments Section.

Keeping your gutters clean makes a big difference when heavy rains move through the city. We’re always here for you when storms and flooding take their toll on your home. You can depend on ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba for expert water damage restoration services across Chicago and the suburbs.