If you had to ask people what tasks around the house they hate to do more than anything, chances are you are going to hear a lot of people say cleaning the gutters. While gutter cleaning may be an unpleasant job, it’s also a necessary one. We recommend doing it once per year—at least. Clogged clutters can cause many serious problems around the house, including pooling water that can damage the foundation, the sidewalk, or the driveway. We show you our favorite methods of how to clean gutters quickly including how to clean gutters from the ground without using a ladder.
Clogged gutters increase the risk of leaking roofs—most people don’t realize this. If the gutters become too full, they can even break and come loose from the house.
You can save yourself from a lot of expensive repair work, simply by keeping your gutters cleaned. We have several methods of how to clean your gutters. Some help you stay on the ground, while others involve a ladder. Let’s start with the basic method and work our way up.
Gutter Cleaning Method 1: Ladder and Hose
For this step, you’ll need three main ingredients: a garden hose, jet sweeper or high-pressure nozzle, and a ladder you trust. The big picture on this method of how to clean gutters is simple. You position the ladder, climb it, and work your way down with the hose until it’s done. In some scenarios, you may have to actually remove debris from the gutters manually.
If you need to physically remove a bunch of debris, an assistant with a large garbage bag helps. Most of the time, however, if you keep up with this task, you can simply drive the debris to the end and get it all in one place. I typically start at the high end and drive the debris towards the downspout. I find it much easier to remove damp or wet debris, so I prefer the hose method as opposed to grabbing handfuls of dry leaves.
Hint: Clamping a trash bag to the side of the ladder with a spring clamp makes for a GREAT time-saver as you work your way from one end of the gutter to the other.
Once you make it all the way down to the end the gutter, go back to the high end and run the hose. Make sure your downspout flows freely and that all that water is running properly down the gutter and not getting stuck in the middle. If you have a problem with drainage, this is the time to correctly slope your gutters so they work properly.
Method 2: How to Clean Gutters from the Ground
While the scooping and moving method goes pretty quickly, sometimes you simply want or need to stay on the ground. The best way we know how to clean gutters from the ground involves an accessory.
It’s also a bit messy as you tend to get a lot of sprayed grime on you as you work. But that’s the price for avoiding the ladder!
To clean gutters from the ground, pick up a gutter-cleaning wand. Several models exist but look for something that telescopes or otherwise reaches the height you need while standing on the ground. A gutter cleaning wand attaches to your hose and typically has a curved end that you can direct into the gutter and force the water pressure to move debris either out of the gutter or towards the downspout.
These range in price from $30 to $100 or more depending on the length, build-quality, and options you want. You want to make sure it applies enough pressure at the business end to drive the debris out or along the gutter so you can get it clear.
Method 3: Use a Pressure Washer to Clean Your Gutters
Similar to Method 2 above, you can also use a pressure washer to clean your gutters. With the right attachment, a pressure washer easily provides the power necessary to remove any type of debris from your gutters. For gutters with years of built-up debris, this might prove the best option and method.
Safety Gear for Cleaning Gutters
It really doesn’t take a ton of effort to clean your gutters. However, regardless of which method you choose, it tends to create quite a mess. It can also take a long time and require spending a lot of time perched precariously on a ladder. Here are a few tips to possibly make the job easier.
- Always wear sturdy, protective gloves to protect your hands from anything sharp in the debris, as well as the sharp parts of the gutters themselves
- Wear trustworthy work boots. You don’t want to lose your grip on the ladder while you work.
- Done some eye protection. Using a high-pressure hose nozzle or pressure washer means you can encounter all manner of blowback from flying debris.
Final Gutter Cleaning How-to Tips
Plan on cleaning the gutters at least once or twice a year. Doing this prevents it from becoming so clogged that the task becomes even harder. If you stay with it, you should spend less time on the ladder each year—and that makes for a safer cleaning experience overall.
Of course, the safest way to clean gutters involves knowing how to clean gutters from the ground. That keeps you off the ladder, though it may have you buying some extensions wands or other accessories. If that makes you feel safer, then by all means use that method whenever possible.
Don’t forget to clean out the downspout. Sometimes as the debris starts coming down the drain it can become clogged. When that happens, you can break it free with a shot from the hose. In the worst cases, you may need to reach for a manual plumbers auger.
Final Tip: Consider Prevention with Gutter Guards
If you really hate gutter cleaning, consider purchasing and installing a gutter guard. These guards stop debris from getting into your gutters but still allow the rainwater to pour into them from your roof. In this way, the water can still be safely diverted away from your house—which is the whole purpose for the gutters.
While the guards may represent an investment, installing is usually cheaper than paying for damage caused by standing water. Plus, you won’t have to clean out those gutters. There are various styles and you’ll need to shop around to see which fits your needs. Most are available in the more popular colors, so matching your gutter color shouldn’t be a problem.
If you have a lot of trees overhead, this might be the best decision you can make for protecting your gutters from debris.