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What is the Best Way to Clean Gutters?

January 17, 2024
Angela Stringfellow
Read Time
6 minutes

As a homeowner, you may know the rain gutters on your home play a vital role in protecting your house and the foundation it sits on. Without them, water can pool on the ground, soak into the soil and cause erosion, with the foundation potentially shifting or cracking as a result.

And problems with your home’s foundation are the last thing you want.

That’s why it’s essential to keep your gutters clear of leaves and debris. Not only should you know the best way to clean gutters, but also when you should clean them and the safest way to do it.

In this article:

How Do You Know When It’s Time to Clean Your Gutters?

If you were to step outside today and look up at your gutters, would you know if it was time to clean them out—or perhaps even replace them? There are several tell-tale signs you should look for, and while some are obvious, others might not be so apparent.

These can include:

  • Overflowing water
  • Sagging gutters
  • Pools of water
  • Pests
  • Unwanted growth

Overflowing Water

If you notice water overflowing your gutters, that’s a clear sign they’re probably clogged and need to be cleaned out. However, don’t wait too long, as the longer you wait, the greater the risk of water damage to your home.

Sagging Gutters

Gutters will sag when they become heavy with debris. Sagging gutters require immediate attention, as the weight of water build-up and soggy leaves puts stress on your gutters and the mechanisms attaching them to your house.

Pools of Water

Pools of water near your home’s foundation, or streaks and stains along your home’s siding, suggest that your gutters are leaking because they’re clogged.


Birds, squirrels, and rodents like to build nests in your gutters. You may be able to spot these nests from the ground. Otherwise, seeing a common occurrence of them may mean that nests are sitting insider your gutters and it’s time to clean them out.

Unwanted Growth

Be on the lookout for any greenery growing out of your gutters. If you see this occurrence, it means there’s too much dirt inside your gutters that is now becoming an ideal home for plants to grow.

The Best Way to Clean Gutters

You have two options when it comes to cleaning out your gutters: you can either climb a ladder and clean them out directly or clean them out from the ground. Climbing a ladder might be the first choice, but with safety in mind, other options should be considered. Cleaning your gutters from the ground is obviously the safer option, but you’ll need at least one extra tool.

Below, we’ll take a look at a few of the most common gutter-cleaning tools.

Garden Hose Attachment

Garden hose attachments typically look like long wands with a hook at the end, with many different models to choose from. One end attaches to your hose while the other is curved at the end to get into your gutters.

When using, place the curved end inside your gutter and turn on the water. Start near the downspout and walk along, allowing the water pressure to clean your gutters. Be careful, as the last thing you want to do is accidentally block the downspout with the debris!

Spray the entire length of the gutter, then work your way back to the downspout. You’ll notice leaves and other debris spraying over the sides as you work, so be sure to dress appropriately as you’re likely to get a bit dirty in the process. Eye protection is also a good idea.

Finally, check your downspouts. Run water through to make sure they’re clear, and if they’re not, try a pressure washer or a plumbing snake to remove any clogs. You can also use a pressure washer for the entire job if you have the appropriate attachment.

Wet/Dry Vacuum Attachment

Another option is to use a gutter-cleaning attachment for your wet/dry vacuum. They look much like the hose attachment with a curve at the end.

You can use the vacuum in much the same way as the hose, starting at the downspout and then walking along the length of the gutter, allowing the vacuum to suck up the debris. If there’s a lot of debris, be sure to stop and empty the vacuum as needed, then work your way back to the downspout.

Leaf Blower Attachment

Clearing the yard of leaves in the fall can be a great way for the kids to earn some allowance, and you may already have a leaf blower to make life a little easier. If so, you may be able to use it to clean your gutters if most of the debris is dry.

A gutter cleaner attachment for your leaf blower looks much like the attachment for a wet/dry vacuum. Be sure to work the blower from side to side, and in the opposite direction of the downspout so you don’t clog it with the debris.

Some homeowners choose to clean out their gutters in this way as it’s safer than using a ladder and can make for faster completion of the job. However, it won’t work on any wet or moist debris, so if you live in a humid or wet climate, you may have more success with one of the other methods.

Best Way to Clean Gutters from a Ladder

Climbing a ladder can be dangerous if you don’t take the proper precautions. According to the American Ladder Institute, 500,000 people are treated for ladder-related injuries each year. Common mistakes include choosing the wrong ladder, setting it up at the wrong angle, overreaching, slips, and missteps.

If you decide to clean your gutters from a ladder, be sure to choose a sturdy one that stands on its own and does not need to be braced against your gutters. Also, be sure to have a friend or family member nearby to make sure the ladder remains steady.

If you have a lot of mud or large debris in your gutter, use a gutter scoop (available at most hardware stores) to remove it. It’s a good idea to spread a tarp underneath your workspace to collect all the gunk and protect your lawn and sidewalk.

Once you’ve finished digging everything out, use a garden hose to flush the gutters and downspouts. You can also use a pressure washer to thoroughly clean, but keep in mind it will splatter.

Once you’re finished and your gutters look clean again, repair any sagging areas.

Try a Gutter-Cleaning Robot

In today’s technological world, it may come as no surprise to learn you can buy gutter-cleaning robots. In reality, gutter-cleaning robots are fairly simple machines, so there’s no AI involved here!

Gutter-cleaning robots are remote-controlled devices that you place inside the gutter. They make their way down the gutter trough, dislodging debris with a spinning auger. If choosing to use this method, be prepared for debris to scatter everywhere, as gutter-cleaning robots have a reputation for being messy!

The good news is that you only need to climb the ladder to place the robot in the gutter and retrieve it once it’s done, so it can be a little safer than cleaning the gutters from a ladder yourself. Be sure to research your options carefully before purchasing one to be sure you’ll be happy with your decision.

For tips on how to clean gutters the easy way, check out the video below:

Prevent Debris Buildup with Gutter Guards

For most of us, gutter cleaning is not on our list of fun things to do, but fortunately, there’s a simple, inexpensive solution that can make your life a lot easier. Put simply, gutter guards prevent debris from getting into the gutters.

This means you won’t have to clean out your gutters multiple times a year—something every homeowner can appreciate!

There are various styles of gutter guards available, but they’re not all created equal. LeafFilter gutter guards provide patented technology that will allow only rainwater through while keeping small debris—even pollen—out.

Plus, LeafFilter gutter guards feature a micromesh screen made of surgical-grade stainless steel, which rarely rusts or corrodes, so you don’t need to worry about having to replace them after only a few years.

In fact, we’re so confident that our gutter guards are built to last that we offer a transferable Lifetime Warranty. Each installation is also handled by a team of expertly trained local professionals who’ll get the job done on your schedule.

But don’t just take our word for it. Over 1.2 million homeowners have trusted LeafFilter gutter guards to protect their homes, resulting in an Excellent rating on TrustPilot. You can read about their experiences here.

For a free quote, call Leaf Filter toll-free today at 1-800-290-6106 or contact us for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the quickest way to clean gutters?

Opinions vary on the quickest way to clean out your gutters, but it often depends on the type of debris you have. If it’s dry, a leaf blower or pressure washer attachment may work best. For a mix of wet and dry debris, a wet/dry vacuum or a garden hose attachment may be the way to go.

Choosing a proven gutter guard solution means you won’t need to clean out your gutters at all. Gutter guards prevent everything but water from entering your gutters, protecting your home from the potential water damage that clogged gutters can cause.

When is the best time to clean gutters?

When it comes to the best time of year to clean your gutters, we recommend inspecting your gutters at least once per season with more frequent inspections and cleanings in the fall. We recommend cleaning your gutters at least twice per year, in the spring and fall, and more often as needed.

In the spring, you’ll be cleaning out everything that gathered in the gutters throughout the winter. In the fall, wait until the leaves have fallen, then clean them out so your gutters can handle the winter runoff.

Can you clean gutters from the ground?

Cleaning your gutters from the ground is often recommended because it is much safer than climbing a ladder. Use an extension for your garden hose, pressure washer, wet/dry vacuum, or leaf blower to make the job easier.