The best way to clean the outside of gutters

Updated April 17, 2017

Cleaning your gutters, inside and out, is important, and not just because it will improve the looks of your house. Clean gutters allow you to see any gutter damage before water leaks lead to major damage and repair. While you can clean only the outside of your gutters or the inside of your gutters, you will save time and possibly money if you do both jobs at once.

Equipment Needed

You will need a ladder tall enough to allow you to reach the gutter comfortably. Make sure that this ladder will not have to rest against the gutter because that could cause damage. You will need a source of water. The best source is a heated pressure washer, although you can use a cold water pressure washer, a garden hose, or even a bucket of water to which you have added cleaning solution if necessary. If you do not own a pressure washer, you can rent one at many home improvement stores. You will need a sponge or cleaning rags, eye protection, garden gloves and trash bags. A small garden trowel or plastic scoop will help remove any leaf debris in the gutter.

Start Inside

It may seem counter-intuitive to begin cleaning the outside of your gutters by cleaning the inside, but this serves an important purpose: cleaning the inside first prevents any dirt or debris from inside the gutter from washing out onto your clean exterior during the cleaning process, or even during the next rain. This will keep your gutters cleaner longer. Remove all debris from the inside of the gutter and place it in a trash bag. Use the trowel or scoop to help you remove decomposing leaves. Gutter edges can be sharp, so wear gloves and use caution. Rinse the inside of the gutter clean, then rinse the outside of the gutter using the pressure washer. If rinsing alone does not remove all dirt from the exterior of the gutter, use a cleaning solution. A solution of bleach in water can help remove any mildew.


Gutter cleaning is a necessary part of gutter maintenance and should be performed at least twice each year. When you are cleaning the gutter, check for any signs of leaks or damage, and make or schedule any needed repairs. Do not overextend your reach: work on an area about three feet wide, and move your ladder frequently. Always use caution when climbing on a ladder. Observe all safety protocols for pressure washer use.

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About the Author

Stephanie Crumley Hill is a childbirth educator who for more than 20 years has written professionally about pregnancy, family and a variety of health and medical topics. A former print magazine editor, her insurance articles for “Resource” magazine garnered numerous awards. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Georgia.