How to Clean Gutters

Step-by-step instructions for DIY gutter cleaning.

When I called several gutter cleaning services, I was shocked to find out how much they charged for a simple gutter cleaning. And of course they all wanted to sell me brand new gutters for the whole house. So, I decided to get the ladder out and do it myself. Here’s what you need to know for DIY gutter cleaning.

Materials and Tools

You’ll almost certainly need an extension ladder if your house is two stories. I would recommend something close to 30 ft.

Just be sure to practice ladder safety: (1) firmly plant the ladder on solid, level ground, and (2) either have someone hold the ladder, or use a ladder stabilizer like this one:

If your house is one story, or sections of your roof are one story, you can use a more secure step ladder (I would recommend something close to 10 ft.), like this one:

You’ll need something to scoop out leaves, dirt, and other debris from the gutters. A trowel or handheld garden shovel works great.

The right pair of work gloves makes all the difference, and you’ll need a durable pair of work gloves to manually scoop out anything that the trowel can’t.

You’ll want a garbage bag handy to place all the debris you scoop out of the gutters. I hang it on the ladder, and when you’re done with cleaning the gutters you can simply tie it off and put it in the trash. No clean up necessary.

After you clean out the gutters, you’ll want to flush any remaining dirt and small debris from the gutters with a hose.

Optional, but you might want a flashlight to peek in the downspouts to ensure they don’t have any blockages.

Step 1: Remove Gutter Guards

This step will depend on which gutter guards you have (if any). These are the gutter guards that are on my house:

These gutter guards have a snap-in design (one side snaps onto the gutter, and the other side tucks under the roofing shingles). So you’ll need to unsnap the gutter guards and pull them out from under the roofing shingles:

Snap-in gutter guards installed on a gutter
Red arrow shows the snap-in design of this gutter guard. Unsnap the gutter guard from the gutter (yellow arrow) and pull the gutter guard out from under the roofing shingles (green arrow).

These gutter guards also come in 3 ft. sections, so as you work your way down the gutter you’ll need to remove each 3 ft. gutter guard section. I temporarily place the gutter guard sections in a row on the roof (and reattach them all later) like this:

Gutter guards in a line on a roof
Temporarily place gutter guard sections in a row on the roof.

Step 2: Remove Debris from the Gutters

You’ll primarily use the trowel/handheld garden shovel to scoop out debris from the gutters. You can also use your hand to manually remove larger debris (like twigs and leaves).

This is the disgusting nastiness that was growing in my gutters (I don’t think the previous owners of this house ever cleaned these gutters!):

Debris inside a gutter
Remove debris from the gutters using a trowel/handheld garden shovel.

I hang a garbage bag on the ladder scoop debris out of the gutter directly into the garbage bag. No clean up necessary later on. Simply tie off the garbage bag and throw it out.

Step 3: Use a Flashlight to Check the Downspouts

A gutter downspout is at the draining end of a gutter. It will take water from the gutter and channel it down toward to the ground. This is what a gutter downspout (red arrow) looks like:

A gutter downspout
A gutter downspout (red arrow).

Since you’re up by the gutters, you might as well use a flashlight to look in the downspouts and make sure you don’t see any blockages:

Flashlight shining into a gutter downspout
Use a flashlight to inspect gutter downspouts for blockages.

Step 4: Use a Hose to Flush the Gutters

After you move debris from the gutters, you’ll want to flush any remaining dirt and small debris with a hose. Set the hose nozzle to full blast and aim it at an angle toward the gutter, like this:

Hose water flushing debris from a gutter
Flush remaining dirt and small debris from gutters with a hose.

Flush the remaining dirt and small debris toward the gutter downspout (red arrow):

Hose water flushing debris from a gutter toward a gutter downspout
Flush remaining dirt and small debris toward the gutter downspout (red arrow).

Flushing the gutters is a great way to assess blockages in the downspout that you couldn’t visually see with a flashlight. It’s also a great way to assess if water is actually draining into the downspout. If it isn’t, and the water is pooling in the gutter instead, then the gutter is not properly sloped. You can rehang the gutters to adjust the slope toward the downspout, or call a gutter or roofing service to have the gutters rehung.

Step 5: Repair the Gutters

With clean gutters, you can now repair or fix any issues with the gutters.

Two screws weren’t even fastened in their hangers on one stretch of gutters on my house, so I used an impact driver with a 1/4 inch magnetic nut driver to fasten these screws:

Fastening a gutter hanger with a screw and impact driver
After cleaning, you can repair gutters (fastening screws to gutter hangers here).

Step 6: Reattach Gutter Guards

If you removed gutter guards in Step 1, then reattach them now. Hopefully they’ll help keep you from having to clean the gutters again anytime soon!

Snap-in gutter guards
Reattach gutter guards after cleaning the gutters..

Did you find this guide useful? What have you done to clean gutters? Let me know in the comments below!

Discover more at

Post content, images, and featured image © 2021 – All rights reserved.

Leave a Reply