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How to Clean Gutters in 5 Steps

LeafFilter product installer cleaning out gutters for a customer
January 9, 2024
Angela Stringfellow
Read Time
4 minutes

In mid-autumn, when most of the leaves have dropped to the ground while the snow has yet to fall, it’s the perfect time to clean out your gutters.

Why now? Because you’ll need to get those leaves out of your gutters before they start to freeze and disintegrate. You don’t want frozen sludge clogging up the pipes, so it’s best to roll up your sleeves and tackle the job now before it gets too cold.

Chances are, you don’t enjoy this chore any more than anyone else. That being the case, installing gutter guards is a great solution. Leaf Filter gutter guards feature patented technology that block even the smallest of debris—including shingle grit and pollen—so you won’t need to worry about clogs inside your gutters again.

We’re here to provide step-by-step instructions for how to clean gutters. Keep reading to learn some gutter cleaning techniques that don’t require you to climb a ladder.

In this article:

Step 1: Gather Up Your Materials

Before you start any time-intensive chore, it’s a good idea to gather the gutter-cleaning materials you’ll be using. You’ll first need to decide what to use to remove the gunk that has accumulated inside your gutters.

Part of this will depend on what’s actually building up inside your gutters. If you have gutter guards that have kept out the bulk of the leaves, twigs, and other debris, you might be able to simply flush it out with a garden hose or a leaf blower. However, if your gutters are pretty full, you’ll likely need a telescopic gutter cleaning tool that lets you grasp whatever’s inside them.

In addition to the tools you’ll be using to remove the debris, you’ll also need:

  • Safety glasses to protect your eyes from falling dirt and debris
  • Work gloves to protect your hands
  • Plastic tarp to cover the ground
  • Sturdy shoes with good traction to minimize the risk of slipping
  • A 5-gallon bucket for debris

Step 2: Set Up Your Worksite

Once you have everything you need, it’s time to bring it over to your worksite. Decide where you’ll be starting, and set up there, making sure that everything is within easy reach. If you need to plug anything in (such as a wet/dry vac or a leaf blower), ensure you have the extension cord set up safely. Spread out your tarp under the section of the gutter you’re starting with.

While you’re setting up, also run a safety check. Watch for piled-up leaves where you’ll be walking, as they’ll make the ground slippery. Remove any tripping hazards; you’ll be looking up, so you won’t necessarily notice what’s on the ground once you get started.

Step 3: Physically Remove the Debris

The first step in cleaning your gutters is to get as much debris out as possible. If you have only a small amount of dry debris, you could use an attachment on your wet/dry vac and put it on the “blow” setting. A leaf blower with an attachment will have the same effect, but with more power.

Otherwise, you’ll probably need to use a garden trowel or manual gutter cleaner to scoop or slide out the leaves, twigs, and dirt. Just scoop or push up and over the gutters on the sidewall furthest from the house; you don’t want to be scooping goop onto the roof.

Move along section by section, putting any debris that you scoop out into your bucket and emptying that as needed.

You’ll also want to use your gutter cleaner to clear out the downspouts. You may need a plumber’s snake if there are clogs, but you can often pull out the debris that has fallen to the bottom with your (gloved) hands.

Step 4: Flush Out the Gutters and Downspouts

Once most of the debris has been physically removed, it’s time to flush out the gutters. For this, you’ll want to use your garden hose with a spray attachment. Aim the spray into the tops of the gutters so the water runs toward the downspouts.

Monitor how quickly the water is flowing through. If it’s not coming down the spouts easily, there might be an additional clog that you’ll need to remove manually.

Step 5: Perform a Visual Inspection

Now’s a great time to take a good look at your gutters. Are there any loose screws, sagging sections, or corrosion that you can see from the ground? If you do have gutter guards, are they lifting, warped, or otherwise not looking their best?

If you need repairs and you’re not comfortable handling them yourself, call a gutter professional to have them addressed before the winter arrives in full force. If you normally get a very snowy, icy, or rainy winter, you want your gutters in tip-top shape to help avoid ice dams and other issues.

Final Thoughts

Cleaning out your gutters is crucial if you want to avoid clogs inside your gutters, but that doesn’t mean there are no alternatives. LeafFilter gutter guards are professionally installed all year round and have been trusted by over 100,000 satisfied customers across the country. To learn more about how we can help, call us toll-free today at 1-800-290-6106.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to clean out the gutters by yourself?

It depends on a few variables, but it’s always a good idea to let someone know you’re cleaning out the gutters. Even if you’re not using a ladder, there’s the potential to slip and fall or to have an issue with one of the tools you’re using to clean inside the gutters. Alternatively, the best way to avoid cleaning out your gutters is to have LeafFilter gutter guards professionally installed.

Is it okay to walk on the roof to clean the gutters?

We don’t recommend climbing onto the roof to clean your gutters. You could fall, or you could damage your roof, particularly if it’s compromised to begin with. It’s much safer to stay on the ground.

Are gutter guards worth it?

Yes! If you don’t want to clean muck out of your gutters, we recommend you take advantage of our patented, award-winning gutter protection solution. LeafFilter gutter guards prevent debris from clogging inside your gutters. In fact, they’re designed to keep your gutters clog-free for life and even come with a limited lifetime transferable warranty. Your only regret will be that you’ll wish you’d done so sooner!