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How to Clean Gutters with Guards

Person on a ladder cleaning a home's gutters
December 29, 2023
Angela Stringfellow
Read Time
6 minutes

Gutter guards can play a vital role in keeping your gutters free of debris and clogs. In fact, LeafFilter’s gutter guards work so well, you won’t have to worry about cleaning out your gutters again!

However, not all gutter guards have LeafFilter’s clog-free guarantee. If you installed another gutter guard system—even if you had it professionally installed—you’ll probably still need to clean out your gutters from time to time.

But when should you clean out your gutters if they have gutter guards? And what’s the best way to do it? Keep reading to find out!

In this article:

When Do I Have to Clean Gutters with Gutter Guards?

You may have hoped that installing gutter guards would take gutter cleaning off your to-do list. The good news is that if you choose the LeafFilter Gutter Protection System, you won’t have to worry about clogs inside your gutters again.

Unfortunately, few gutter guards come with this type of guarantee. In most cases, you’ll still have to keep an eye out for signs that your gutters need cleaning.

Those signs may include the following:

  • Water is overflowing and spilling over the sides of your gutters.
  • Your siding has stain marks.
  • Animals and pests are present in and around your gutters.
  • Your gutters are sagging under the weight of debris.
  • Plants, moss, or algae are growing in and around your gutters.

If you notice any of the above, it’s time to clean out your gutters. This can be disappointing if you hoped your gutter guards would prevent the buildup of debris that leads to clogs inside your gutters.

Unlike LeafFilter gutter guards, many types of gutter guards aren’t built to catch smaller particles, such as pine needles, dirt, and other small blowing debris.

For example, if you have a lot of tree cover around your home, falling leaves can collect on top of the guards. Later, when they get wet from rain and snow, they can stick to the gutter guards, creating a cover that can block water flow.

The bottom line is that unless your gutter guard system is guaranteed to keep your gutters clog-free (like LeafFilter’s), you’ll probably still have to clean out your gutters from time to time.

How to Clean Gutters with Gutter Guards: 5 Different Types

When it comes to cleaning gutters with gutter guards, it depends on what type of gutter guards you have. Below, we have general instructions on how to do it with the five most common types of gutter guards. Typically, you must begin by removing the gutter guards and cleaning them first.

Once your gutter guards are clean, you can proceed with cleaning out the gutters themselves.

Cleaning Foam Gutter Guards

Foam gutter guards are placed inside the gutter and expand to fill the gutter, creating a barrier against debris. These are economical and easy to install yourself, which makes them popular for the homeowner who enjoys DIY projects.

To clean these guards, it’s usually best to remove them first, then rinse them with water using either a garden hose or a pressure washer. Since they’re made of foam, they’re light enough to be removed fairly easily, though you’ll need to climb a ladder to do so. Make sure you practice ladder safety or, alternatively, hire a professional gutter cleaning service to do the job for you.

Cleaning Brush Gutter Guards

Brush gutter guards are similar to foam gutter guards in that they are placed inside the gutter, making them economical and easy to install. To clean them, pull them out of your gutters, then use a pressure washer to wash away the debris and dirt built up between the bristles. If you don’t have a pressure washer, a garden hose with a strong spray nozzle may work.

Again, you’ll need to climb a ladder to remove the gutter guards, so have a partner with you at all times and work slowly and carefully.

Cleaning Screen Gutter Guards

These are made of plastic or aluminum and sit atop your gutters. They are not attached to them, which makes them easy to remove, though it also makes them vulnerable to heavy rains and strong winds.

To clean these types of gutter guards, detach them from your gutters, shake off the loose debris, then rinse them clean with a garden hose or pressure washer.

Cleaning Mesh Gutter Guards

Mesh gutter guards are made of a metal or nylon material that is formed into a mesh-like netting. Depending on the opening size in the mesh, they can allow some debris through into your gutter, which can accumulate inside your gutters over time.

They’re a little different from the previous three, as these guards are typically attached to your gutters—unless they’re made of plastic. Plastic guards cost less but are less durable.

If you have plastic guards, you can simply remove them as you would screen gutter guards and then rinse them clean.

If you have metal guards that are attached to your gutters, start by using a soft-bristled brush to scrub away any stubborn debris. Then, rinse the mesh down with a garden hose or pressure washer. (If you have a pressure washer attachment, you can complete this step from the ground.)

If the water isn’t flowing through, you’ll need to remove the guard to loosen the clog.

Inspect the gutter and see if you can spot where the water is accumulating. Then, pry the small metal clips that hold the gutter guards to your gutter with a flathead screwdriver.

Lift the guard off the gutter and let it rest against the roof. Then you can use a gutter scoop or trowel to clean out the clog. Rinse the gutter clean and reattach the guard.

Cleaning Micro-Mesh Gutter Guards

Micro-mesh gutter guards are similar to mesh guards, except they usually have smaller holes in the mesh and are better at keeping debris out. Still, over time, small debris may build up on top of the guard, slowing water flow.

Try cleaning with a soft-bristled brush first. Brush off as much debris as you can before using a garden hose or pressure washer to rinse.

Cleaning Surface Tension (Reverse Curve) Gutter Guards

These gutter guard systems are designed to redirect water into the gutters while allowing debris to slide off. They are placed over the gutters via a special roof attachment, so removing them isn’t recommended.

These gutter guards cost more than the other types, as they last longer and work more efficiently. Over time, however, dirt, small debris, and grime can accumulate underneath the gutter.

To clean them, brush any accumulated debris off the top, then rinse them down with a hose or pressure washer. Lastly, check for any remaining caked-up dirt and debris underneath the gutter. If you see some, use a scrubbing motion to remove it.

Final Thoughts

You may have noticed that in most of the situations above, it’s necessary to climb a ladder to clean out your gutter guards. This can be risky, as according to the American Ladder Institute, 500,000 people are treated every year for ladder-related injuries.

You can hire a professional to clean out your gutters, or you can choose to install our LeafFilter Gutter Protection System. Our patented, award-winning technology can prevent the smallest debris from entering your gutters—including pollen—and comes with a limited lifetime transferable warranty.

Call us today at 1-844-970-1750 to learn why over a million customers nationwide have trusted LeafFilter to protect their homes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I clean out gutters with gutter guards?

Unless you have LeafFilter installed on your gutters, it’s best to clean your gutter guards (and clean out your gutters) at least twice per year. In between cleanings, check them periodically to make sure water is still flowing freely.

How do you clean the top of gutter guards?

It depends on the type of gutter guards you have. With foam and brush gutter guards, you usually have to climb a ladder, remove the guards, and then rinse them with a garden hose. With screen, mesh, and surface tension guards, you can clean these from the ground with a pressure washer attachment.

Why does water run over my gutter guards?

If you notice water running over your gutter guards, you’ve probably got a clog somewhere, and you’ll need to clean both your gutter guards and the gutters themselves.

How do you remove leaves from the top of gutter guards?

You can climb a ladder and spray the leaves off, but it’s safer to work from the ground. Try using a leaf blower attachment to blow dry leaves away. If the leaves are wet, try using a wet/dry vacuum or pressure washer attachment to remove them from your gutter guards.

How do you clean gutters without climbing a ladder?

You can find gutter-cleaning attachments for your leaf blower, wet/dry vacuum, or pressure washer at your home improvement store or online. Use these to blow, vacuum, or wash away debris from your gutters.