How to Clean Gutters

Many homeowners take their gutters for granted. They think that if they ignore the fact that they are clogged with leaves and other debris, the problem will eventually go away. But of course it doesn’t work that way. It only gets worse, and could eventually lead to sagging gutters, flooded basements or even foundation problems. Watch this video and learn the basics of cleaning your gutters and downspouts.



  1. How to Clean Your Gutters - Step 1

    Remove gutter covers.

  2. How to Clean Your Gutters - Step 2

    Scoop out debris with a tool or with your hands. Be sure to wear gloves.

  3. How to Clean Your Gutters - Step 3

    Flush the gutter with water and check for proper flow.

  4. How to Clean Your Gutters - Step 4

    Check the down spouts for any lodged debris. Put the hose on full force and spray down the spout. If the volume of water coming out is less, there is a clog.

  5. How to Clean Your Gutters - Step 5

    If there is a clog, remove the nozzle and work the hose up the down spout.

  6. How to Clean Your Gutters - Step 6

    Make sure that all gutters are securely attached and don’t look loose.

Read Video Transcript

Many homeowners take their gutters for granted. They think that if they ignore the fact that they are clogged with leaves and other debris, the problem will eventually go away. But of course it doesn’t work that way. It only gets worse, and could eventually lead to sagging gutters, flooded basements or even foundation problems. So take some time to periodically inspect and clean out your gutters. It doesn’t take that much time, and in the long run, you and your wallet will be glad you did.

Today we’re going to show you how to clean your gutters and downspouts. We’ll show you the proper methods, recommend some tools to make it easier, and give you some safety tips as well.

So let’s get started.

A fact that might surprise you is that an average sized roof can shed nearly 1,000 gallons of water for each inch of rain that falls. That’s a lot of water. When you gutters and downspouts are clogged or sagging, that water overflows out of the gutters and can damage your roof, your gutter boards, and work its way down your foundation and eventually into your basement, where it can lead to mold, mildew and even flooding. When flowing properly, however, your gutters and downspouts carry this water away from your house.

So when is the best time to clean your gutters? The ideal time is after several dry days. The debris in your gutters won’t be as wet, and dry leaves and debris are less messy to remove. A dry day is also a safer time to work on the ladder.

Now let’s talk about the equipment you’ll need. Cleaning gutters requires getting on a ladder, so if you aren’t comfortable with this, be sure to call a licensed professional to do the work. You’ll also probably want some rubber gloves, especially if the contents of your gutters is wet. To keep from climbing up and down the ladder more frequently than necessary, get a large bucket that you can hang from the ladder with a wire. And finally, you’ll also probably want a trowel or a gutter scoop to help you dig debris out of the gutters.

Whenever using a ladder, be sure to read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to use the ladder safely.

These gutters don’t have gutter covers, which certainly makes our job easier. While gutter covers dramatically cut down on the amount of debris that gets in your gutters, most will eventually still need to be cleaned, so be sure to pick a cover that can be easily removed for cleaning.

Now it’s time to get up on the ladder and start scooping out the debris. There is no right or wrong way to do it. It just takes some time and persistence on your part. When it’s clean, flush the gutter with clean water to check for proper flow.

After the gutters are clean, check the downspouts for any debris that might be lodged inside. The best way to do this is with a hose and spray nozzle. On the full spray setting, spray down the downspout and check the volume that comes out at the bottom. You’ll be able to tell if there is a clog. If there is, remove the nozzle and work the hose up into the downspout as far as it will go, flushing it with water. This is also a good time to make sure you splash blocks are placed properly and that all your gutters and downspouts are attached securely.

In between regular cleanings, one way to keep your gutters free of debris is to use a gutter wand like you see here. It has a curved head and a telescoping handle that reaches high enough on a single story home to keep from getting the ladder out.

Well there you have it. Now your gutters are now flowing properly. And you’ve taken proper precautionary measures to keep the water away from where it can do a whole lot of damage to your home.

If you have questions about this or any other home improvement project, be sure to read our list of Frequently Asked Questions for this video. And be sure to print out our Project Instructions, which includes a Tools and Materials checklist, before visiting your local independent home improvement retailer. That’s where you’ll find all the products and helpful advice to complete your project. If you’re not sure where to find your local store, check out our Store Locator.

Good luck with your project and thanks for watching.

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18 responses to “How to Clean Gutters”

  1. Clogged gutters are one of the simplest fixes on a home, but if not cleaned can lead to very costly repairs. When we go to work on garage doors throughout Westchester during the winter (where it gets very cold) we always see bad ice damming on roofs. This is almost always associated with clogged gutters. Homeowners would be wise to take care of this during the fall after the leaves fall to prevent problems with their home over the winter.

  2. Ornametals says:

    With proper installation of products like copper gutters cleaning can be mininmal, especially if you install gutter guards.

  3. Please, please, please clean your gutters! I won’t go out of business but you guys need to prevent major damage with this simple step. You really only need to do it a couple times in the fall. You can even install rain gutter guards to avoid this all together.

  4. I suggest twice a year in our part of the country – Northeast. In heavily wooded lots even 3 times a year is great!

  5. Great thanks for sharing this information. You should think about the maintenance of a gutter before the gutter stop working properly. A Gutter cleaning is Very important for smooth and effective water drainage system.

  6. Heather says:

    This is a great informative article & 100% accurate when you say that “ignored” gutters will lead to flooded basements and foundation problems ! Don’t ignore your home’s exterior ! A simple clean up now will save you $1000’s in future problems ! If you aren’t able to do it yourself, please give us a shout ! We service all of Ontario, Canada.

  7. Jeff Wiersma says:

    Also helpful to make the project much easier in the future = installing gutter strainers at the outlet into the downspouts

  8. I’m currently working on a DIY guide for my customers as well. These are some great and succinct steps to gutter cleaning.

  9. Jason says:

    One tool that will really help you clean your gutters is the Guttertong. You can reach those first floor gutters from the ground and they are quick and efficient to use. Give it a try and you will be happy you invested in it instead of paying big $$ to hire someone.

  10. J Lopes says:

    I also agree. Check your house rain water drainage system annually – at least.
    Check gutters and downspouts: are they aligned? Are they sagging? Are they clogged? Are they misaligned? If so, clear the gutters of leaves and debris by hand. You could also use a garden hose. Check if the downspouts direct water away from your home’s foundation. Check for any leaks. If you see damage use caulking or epoxy to seal holes and seams. Otherwise, call a downspouts/gutters drainage contractor to clean them out. I think a roofing contractor may also inspect and clean gutters/downspouts, overall rain water drainage system.

  11. This is great, we should NOT ignore gutters ! A cleaning dirty or plugged gutters will save our money and time. we normally inspect our home’s rain gutter system each year for leaks and debris.

  12. Noel says:

    Nice video. One tip that can save you a lot of time, effort is to tie wrap a sponge to a extendible pole (I.e a car wash brush, without the brush attached) this will enable you to reach either side of the ladder a good 8ft and pull the debris towards you. Make sure you tie off the ladder and someone is footing you.start at the down pipe, unblocking this first will enable any water in the gutter to drain. Failing that, hire in a pro with a gutter vac. Makes it effortless.

  13. I really appreciate your tip for putting the hose up the downspout to get out a clog. Up until now I have been using an old broom handle to knock the clogs loose. However, this probably isn’t the best thing for my downspout. Also, if I notice that my gutters are coming away from the roof, how should I fix it? Going along with this, how will I know if I need new gutters?

  14. If you live in an area with a lot of trees around you should think about investing in gutter guards, it will save you a lot of money.

  15. Daniel says:

    What a great guide to show home owners how to empty their own guttering, its essential to have someone footing the ladders on hirer buildings as a fall from gutter height can cause serious injuries.
    To minimize the amount of times the ladders need to be moved you can use a pro gutter scraper attached to an extendable pole which enables you to empty a much larger run of the guttering without having to keep moving your ladders.
    If you do not feel comfortable climbing ladders up to your gutter line you can always hire a professional gutter cleaning company
    who can clear your gutters using a gutter vacuum system safely from the ground.

  16. Kevin Leahy says:

    When advising about rain gutters be sure to highlight The SpoutOff,
    The EXTRA LARGE SpoutOff outlet will not clog so gutters will always work every time it rains.
    SpoutOff BONUS: Removable Downspout feature, 1, 2 even 3-story, keeps Homeowners safe because they can check all their outlets while standing safely down on the ground. Thanks!

  17. Alex S says:

    Checking the condition of our gutters are very important in our home. Good thing these tips was posted for everyone to help us on how to take good care of our gutters. I have also checked this website for additional tips in the maintenance of our gutter. Readers can check it for additional help.

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