What to Use to Clean the Outside of Gutters

Updated February 21, 2017

Your home's gutter system removes water and debris from the roof and guides it to your yard. The system includes vertical and horizontal gutters as well as downspouts at the bottom of the gutters. Gutters, both metal and plastic, need cleaning at least yearly to remove dirt and debris and to keep water flowing freely through the system. Failure to clean your home's gutters can lead to mildew and dirt building up on the gutters' surface as well as debris forming on the areas around the gutters.

Supplies and Cleaning

Spray the outside of your home's gutter system with water from a water hose, and then use a cleaner or detergent with a built-in degreaser to clean the gutters. Pour the cleaner or detergent in a bucket, then dilute it with the amount of water recommended on the cleaner's or detergent's label. Apply the solution using a soft-bristle brush, then scrub away any dust, dirt and mildew from the gutters' surface. Rinse the gutters thoroughly with a water hose to remove the debris. Repeat the cleaning process until the surfaces are debris-free. Let the gutters air-dry or dry them manually using an old towel.

When rinsing, spray the areas surrounding the gutters to remove any debris that may have splashed on your home.

Gutter Leaks and Repair

If you see any areas of the gutter system ripped or cracked, use a commercial gutter sealant to mend the rips or cracks from the inside of the gutter. For holes, cut a piece of metal or plastic flashing to cover the hole, then seal the material using gutter sealant on both the inside and outside of the gutter.

Use a putty knife to spread the gutter sealant, and wear gloves to keep the adhesive off your hands.

Rust Removal

To remove rust from your gutters' exterior surfaces, sand the rust using a piece of 80-grit or 100-grit sandpaper. Clean the area thoroughly using the method in the "Supplies and Cleaning" section. Paint the area with a rust-preventing paint, and let the paint air-dry. Do not attempt to sand or paint the gutter system when rain is in the forecast.

Pressure Sprayer or Washer

You can also use a pressure sprayer or washer to pre-wash and rinse your home's gutter system. Set the device's pressure rating to a high setting to blow off dust, dirt and debris as well as any mildew.

Protective Gear

Wear rubber gloves to keep your hands dry and clean as you wash your home's gutters. Also wear a hat and safety goggles. Use a stable ladder and wear rubber work boots or similar non-slip boots to keep your balance on the ladder. If available, solicit help in cleaning the outside of your home's gutters.

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About the Author

Nick Davis is a freelance writer specializing in technical, travel and entertainment articles. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Memphis and an associate degree in computer information systems from the State Technical Institute at Memphis. His work has appeared in "Elite Memphis" and "The Daily Helmsman" in Memphis, Tenn. He is currently living in Albuquerque, N.M.