Person on ladder cleaning gutters

How to Safely Clean Gutters

 a rooftop with gutters, badly in need of cleaning.

Fall is a beautiful and colorful time of the year. Unfortunately, those beautiful colors inevitably clog up our gutters in the spring. We know that no one wants to do it, but eventually, you have to. Clearing debris from your gutters prevents water buildup and possible damage to your roof and gutters. Below, you can read through several different gutter cleanup methods, choose what best suits you, and learn how to properly and safely clean your gutters. It is also important to note that you should try to clean your gutters at least twice a year. 

Gutter Cleaning Safety & Prep 

First, we will be covering the most important topic, safety. Cleaning your gutters can lead to many possible injuries, so having the proper safety equipment is essential. This job can get pretty dirty, so we recommend that you wear a long-sleeved shirt and work pants to cover yourself. Next, have safety glasses, and gloves to protect you from any debris getting into your eyes as well as possible cutting yourself during the process. You may even want to consider buying fall protection such as a harness, anchor, etc., to ensure you’re secure.

Woman Cleaning Gutters While Standing On Ladder

When working with ladders, falling can cause serious injuries. Ensure you have a sturdy extendable ladder on a sturdy surface and possibly a helper to hold the ladder. When standing on a ladder, set it up so that when you’re standing with your feet at the ladder’s base and reach out to grab it, your arms are at a right angle with your legs. Capping the ends with rubber prevents the metal feet from gouging into your exterior wall and increases friction, making the ladder less likely to slide.

Gutter Cleaning Methods

There are three different methods for cleaning your gutters. Depending on what materials you have, safety concerns or preferences can help you decide which option you want. The three methods listed below are: cleaning your gutters on a ladder, sitting or standing on your roof, and cleaning from the ground.

Gutter Cleaning From a Ladder

Tradesman climbing a ladder to clean and unblock the gutters and pipes

The first method for cleaning your gutters is with a ladder. You will need a garden hose, a high-pressure nozzle, and a ladder for this method. Once you have the required materials, begin by placing your ladder in a secure spot. Then climb the ladder with your hose and work your way down the gutter. You may be required to manually remove some of the debris throughout the job.

Gutter Cleaning Sitting or Standing on Roof

Man cleaning rain gutters on roof with blower

The next method for cleaning your gutters is sitting or standing on the roof. Like the previous method, you’ll first start by securely placing your ladder and then climbing it safely. You’ll want to have a bucket, a pole, and a gutter scoop for this method. Start by gathering debris and creating piles every few feet or so. Once you have gathered all the debris, start placing your debris in your bucket. When doing this, sit down, placing the debris in the bucket. When filling up your bucket, make sure that you don’t fill it up too much, or you may become uncomfortable with how heavy it can be, especially if the debris is wet and possibly risk an injury.

Another option when you’re up on the roof is using a blower or pressure washer. Start by working your way down the gutter, blowing out all the debris. This way is a bit messier as you will have to clean your driveway or lawn, but you can also lay down a tarp on the ground to make it a bit easier.

Gutter Cleaning From the Ground

The final method for cleaning your gutter is staying on the ground. This option is great for those who may feel uncomfortable climbing onto their roofs. You’ll need a gutter cleaning wand to extend your reach to your gutters for this method. Once you have your necessary materials, you can attach them to your hose and place them into your gutter. Then slowly work your way down the gutter as the water pressure removes the debris from the downspout. This option can be messy as the previous method, so consider laying down a tarp. 

Check Elbows & Downspouts

Worker Attaching Aluminum Rain Gutter and Down Spout to Fascia of House.Worker Attaching Aluminum Rain Gutter to Fascia of House.

After you’ve cleaned out your gutters, you’ll want to ensure that there aren’t any blockages. To start this, remove the elbow, which connects the gutter to the downspout. Once the elbow is out, use a hose to spray water into it. If the water is flowing out quickly, your gutter is clean. If the water is not flowing out fast or backed up, you’ll have to remove a clog. To do this, use a plumber’s snake into the downspout to loosen up the debris. Then try your hose again. If the problem continues, repeat the previous step until water begins to flow out quickly. Reattach the elbow once you’re down, and you’re good to go.

Clean Up

Now that your gutters are cleaned, you have a few final steps to ensure the job is done. It’s important to do one final water test with your gutters. It never hurts to make sure the job is 100 percent complete. With high-pressure, use your hose and ensure water runs smoothly through your gutters. Once you’ve made your final run, the last thing to do is clean up your workspace.

Check out our other blog on the best gutter cleaners to learn about the best tools for cleaning your gutters.

10 Comments

  • James

    October 24, 2017 at 3:41 pm

    Ladder standoffs/stabilizers should always be used on extension ladders when getting up on a roof and/or cleaning out gutters. Why risk marring up & denting gutters w/o one?!

    Reply
    • Acme Tools

      October 24, 2017 at 3:44 pm

      Hello, Thank you for your comment. That is a great point, they also increase the safety when working on a ladder because of their increased width.

      Thank you,
      Acme Tools

      Reply
  • David Rich of DMR Gutters

    October 27, 2017 at 11:47 am

    I have been installing gutter for 24 years and use ladder standoffs/stabilizers on all my ladders. I would feel unsafe without it. I usually brace the ladder standoffs/stabilizer on the roof above the gutter. I even tell my clients that they should buy a ladder standoffs/stabilizer even if they do not own a ladder. If they have someone working on their roof who does not have this on their ladder to insist they use it. They will often ask ‘what if they do not give it back to me?’ i remind them that they would have suffered more than $30 damage to their gutters if they did not use it, so not really a loss, and they can still call them to ask for it back.

    Also, I bring up a 5 gallon bucket to put the debris into and hook it onto the ladder, or the stabilizer. I will often slide one leg into the ladder rung above the one I am standing on to hook my leg in for better stability if I need to use both my hands. It puts extra weight on that one foot, but better to be safe. a Rung Step device can also be used to help give a larger platform to stand on, so the arch of your foot will not hurt so badly.

    Reply
  • Azoay Boni

    December 24, 2017 at 1:03 am

    Historically, I am the guy that goes to clean objects around my home and I end up wrecking them because I didn’t fully know what I was doing. Are there any cleaning agents for gutters that could wreck the weather protective coating and other elements of the gutter’s physical integrity? It wouldn’t do well to wreck my gutters right before winter kicks in.

    Reply
    • Acme Tools

      December 26, 2017 at 9:15 am

      Hello, Thank you for your comment. If you are using a chemical to clean your gutters we recommend contacting the manufacturer of the gutter system to see if the cleaning agent could harm the integrity of the gutter.

      Thank you,
      Acme Tools

      Reply
  • Easton Memmott

    July 26, 2018 at 9:05 am

    I found it very interesting when it was mentioned that you can use a leaf blower to clean out your gutters. I have never thought of that before. My wife and I are looking to buy a home and we want to be sure that we know the ins and outs of cleaning and taking care of our new home. If we buy a home soon, I will seriously consider using a leaf blower to clean out the gutters.

    Reply
  • Ridley Fitzgerald

    February 5, 2019 at 12:53 pm

    I appreciate your tips for cleaning gutters. Like you said, using a rubber-capped ladder would help me avoid slipping and falling like my neighbor did not too long ago. To be honest, I’d rather hire a professional to clean all our gutters, so I think I’ll do that.

    Reply
  • Mark Murphy

    February 20, 2019 at 10:54 am

    I really appreciate your tip to spray all of the waste in your gutter into one central location so you can get rid of it easier. My wife and I have been thinking of getting a new house with a lot of tall trees on the property, and we are concerned that the trees are causing a lot of leaves to fall into the gutter. I will be sure to tell my wife that we should try and clean it by spraying it all into one pile!

    Reply
  • Ben Stout

    March 12, 2022 at 5:35 pm

    This was definitely a great article. I wished I had this the first time I was thinking I was man enough to know everything. I eventually fell and learned a valuable lesson.

    Reply

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