How to Clean Gutters

Aaron holding a ladder with his Global Exterior Experts gear on.
Aaron Venegaz
min read
Expert cleaning gutters that are full with leafs.

Gutters play a crucial role in protecting your home from water damage by effectively channeling water flow from your roof and into your downspouts. However, they can easily become clogged with leaves, twigs, and debris, leading to overflows and potential damage to your roof, foundation, and landscaping.

Fortunately, cleaning your gutters is a DIY task that most homeowners can tackle with the right tools, techniques, and safety. As a homeowner, you should aim to clean your gutters twice a year, every mid-fall and mid-spring.

Why Clean Your Gutters?

Before we dive into how to clean your gutters, let's go over why it's essential:

  • Prevents Water Damage: Clogged gutters can cause water to back up and overflow, damaging your roof, siding, and foundation.
  • Protects Your Landscaping: If gutters overflow, water can pour over the sides, leading to large dents and depression in your garden beds.
  • Deters Pests: Gutters that are filled with debris invite pests like rodents, insects, and birds
  • Boosts Curb Appeal: Believe it or not, having clean gutters can also help increase your curb appeal.

Tools & Supplies You'll Need:

  • Ladder: A stable ladder that can reach your gutters safely.
  • 2 Buckets: Get two good-sized buckets to collect the debris and hold your tools in.
  • Gloves: Waterproof gloves are recommended to protect your hands from debris and muck.
  • Scoop or Trowel: For scooping out debris efficiently.
  • Garden Hose: This will be used to flush your gutters.
  • Safety Glasses: Protect your eyes from debris.

Step-by-Step Guide For Gutter Cleaning

Ladder positioned against the gutter and a bucket on the roof with tools in it.


1. Gather Supplies & Tools:

  • Gather a sturdy ladder (extension ladder if your house is tall), waterproof work gloves, a garden hose with a spray nozzle, two buckets, trowel, or scoop, and old rags or towels. In addition, gutter cleaning tools and safety glasses can make the job easier and safer.

2. Choose The Right Time:

  • Clean your gutters in mid-spring and mid-fall after most leaves have fallen.
  • Avoid cleaning during or right after heavy rain since the debris will be heavier and more difficult to remove from your gutters.
  • Choose a clear day with good weather. This will make it easier for you to spot any issues and clean your gutters thoroughly.

3. Proper Safety:

  • Have someone spot you while you're on the ladder, or obtain a ladder stabilizer tool.
  • Position the ladder on level, solid ground.
  • Never overextend yourself while on the ladder. Instead, move the ladder if needed.
  • Never climb above the second to last step on your ladder.
  • Wear work gloves to protect your hands from sharp edges and debris.
  • Be aware of power lines and avoid contact with them at all times.
Person holding debris from gutters in hand on a ladder.

Cleaning Steps

1. Start With a Visual Inspection:

Over time, gutters can develop leaks or begin to sag, so it's crucial to inspect them thoroughly before cleaning.

  • Before getting on the ladder, scan the gutters from the ground and look for areas with debris buildup, sagging sections, or obvious damage.
  • Inspecting your gutters helps you plan your cleaning approach and determine whether your gutters need to be replaced, repaired, or simply cleaned.

2. Clear Debris From the Gutters

Securely position your ladder safely and have two buckets, one for putting the debris in and the other for your tools (hook the buckets to the ladder if possible).

  • Scoop out leaves, twigs, and other large debris from the gutters with your gloved hands or a trowel.
  • After removing debris, use a trowel or a gutter cleaning tool to scrape away any caked-on dirt, grime, or decaying debris.
  • Be sure to work in sections, moving your ladder as needed to avoid overreaching, and dispose of the debris in your bucket.

3. Flush The Gutters

Once your gutters are cleared of debris, you can then begin to flush each section.

  • Use a spray nozzle with a strong stream of water to prevent water from spraying under the roof shingles.
  • Flush your gutters by starting at the far end and working towards the downspout.

4. Check for Gutter Leaks and Damage

While cleaning your gutters, keep an eye out for damage and leaks.

  • Look for signs of leaks, holes, cracks, rust, or loose fasteners.
  • Pay attention to areas where the gutter is sagging or pulling away from the house. This may indicate a gutter replacement or repair is needed.
  • Address any minor repairs yourself or contact a professional for more significant damage.

5. Check The Downspouts

After cleaning and flushing, if water doesn't drain quickly from your gutters, clogged downspouts may be the culprit.

  • Insert the hose into the downspout opening and run water at full pressure to attempt to dislodge any debris.
  • If the downspout blockage persists, you can utilize a plumber's snake to break up the debris.
  • For downspouts connected to underground tiling, detach the lower end for better access and clog removal.

6. Complete The Gutter Cleaning

Once you've completed the five steps mentioned previously, you can then add the finishing touches to your gutters!

  • Apply gutter sealant to any leaking seams or joints, following the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Boost your home's curb appeal using a pressure washer to remove dirt and mildew from the exterior of the gutters.
  • Touch up with paint, if necessary.
Clean gutters in the color white for a home in Bartlett, IL.


1. How often should I clean my gutters?

Cleaning your gutters twice yearly, once in mid-spring and once in mid-fall, is ideal.

2. Why is gutter cleaning important?

Gutter cleaning prevents water damage, pest infestations, ice dams, and more.

3. How much does gutter cleaning cost?

Gutter cleaning costs generally between $119 and $234 in 2024.

4. How to clean gutter guards?

Depending on the type of gutter guard, rinse with a hose, use a soft-bristled brush, or remove and pressure wash.


Regular gutter cleaning is a simple yet essential task for every homeowner and it should never be put off. Gutter cleaning is small investment of time and effort that can save you from costly repairs and protect your home from water damage. Whether you choose to tackle it yourself or hire a professional, keeping your gutters clean is a vital part of keeping your home healthy and happy.