How to Clean Rain Gutters
Rain gutters are critical in keeping water away from your house, but to do their job properly, they need to be free of clogging leaves and debris. The fuller your gutters get with wet debris and standing water, the more potential water damage to your roofing and fascia boards. This can lead to leakage into your home's foundation, basement and crawl space.
Keeping your rain gutters clean is also important in terms of boosting your home's curb appeal. Naturally, the muddy gunk that builds up in your gutters will eventually pour over the edges. This leads to the appearance of dark vertical stripes, particularly on aluminum gutters, called tiger stripes.
To keep your gutters clear and help your home look its best, clean them at least once a year – and more frequently if there are a lot of trees around your house. It's also a good idea to clean them after big storms, as well as before a storm hits to prevent buildup before it's too late.
Although it's been a go-to choice for tough cleaning jobs, avoid using TSP to clean your rain gutters. This cleaner is toxic and can cause depletion of oxygen levels in lakes and streams if it ends up being rinsed down a storm drain.
Before you begin cleaning, put on a long sleeve shirt, gloves to protect your hands from sharp metal or sheet metal screws, a dust mask and safety goggles. Clean gutters when they are slightly damp and pliable. It's best to pressure wash under cooler, non-windy conditions.
- Begin scooping. When using an extendable ladder, use standoff stabilizers to prevent the ladder from leaning on the gutters themselves, which can cause damage. It's also important that you do not reach further than is safe to do from your ladder. Use a narrow gutter scoop, garden trowel, or even a toy shovel to remove built-up dirt, leaves and debris. Drop the scooped-up gunk onto a plastic tarp on the ground below you so it doesn't end up all over your lawn or landscaping. When you've cleaned as much as you safely can in one spot, scoot the ladder and tarp down and repeat.
- Rinse. Once you've scooped out all of the debris, use a garden hose to flush out any leftover dirt, starting at the end opposite the downspout. Ensure that the water is coming cleanly through the spout. Also use this time to check for any leaks.
- Prepare your pressure washer. Drop the siphon tube into your bottle of Simple Green Oxy Solve Total Outdoor Cleaner or fill the on-board soap reservoir.
- Build your wand. Connect a telescoping wand to your pressure washer wand. This can be extended 12, 18 or 24 feet. Then connect a U-shaped gutter cleaning wand to the end of the telescoping wand.
- Wash. Stick the wand inside your gutters at an angle. At low pressure setting, apply Simple Green Oxy Solve to an area that is small enough to be rinsed before it dries. Allow the cleaner to dwell on the surface for 3-5 minutes.
- Rinse at high pressure.
- Prepare your Simple Green solution. In a bucket or large container, mix 1.5 cups of Simple Green Oxy Solve Total Outdoor Cleaner with a gallon of water. Hang the bucket from your ladder or set it on the roof next to where you're cleaning.
- Scrub. Use a medium-bristle brush to apply the cleaning solution in sections. Do not allow the cleaner to dry on the surface before rinsing. Again, when you've cleaned as much as you safely can in one spot, move the ladder down and repeat.
- Rinse each section thoroughly with your hose.
- Rinse surrounding areas. After the job is done, rinse all lawn, plants, shrubs and trees contacted by the cleaner, and flush equipment with water before storage.
Do not use a pressure washer while on a ladder - only operate with feet planted on the ground.