Just because you can’t see the buildup from below doesn’t mean it’s not there. Keep your gutters in good shape with our guide to cleaning gutters.

By Real Simple Editors
Updated June 22, 2020
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How to clean gutters - supplies, steps, and more
Credit: Getty Images

Learning how to clean gutters isn’t exactly something you want to do, but it’s something you have to do. Not cleaning gutters can lead to all sorts of drainage issues for your home—and even roof damage—so it’s best to stay ahead of potential disaster and proactively clean your gutters.

You can clean your gutters yourself, with a little physical fitness, agility, and patience, but know that it’s a tough job. You can learn how to clean gutters yourself and save yourself a chunk of cash, or you can hire the professionals to clean your gutter for you—we’ll even give you a sense of how much it costs to clean gutters.

Here, you’ll learn how to clean gutters, see the supplies you’ll need to get the job done, find out how often you need to clean your gutters, and more. Knowledge is power, and if it falls on you to keep your house in good shape, you’re going to want to know how to clean gutters so you can do it yourself in a pinch. Just be smart about deciding to clean your gutters yourself: It’s a tough, risky job, particularly if you have a multi-story house.

The supplies you need to clean gutters

  • extension ladder with stabilizer attachment (this is so the ladder doesn’t have to rest against the gutters, which could cause damage)
  • work gloves
  • hand trowel
  • hose with sprayer
  • rake
  • plastic garbage bags (or, ideally, compostable paper leaf bags)
  • rubber-soled shoes (to prevent slipping)
  • patience (this job can take several hours if your house is large).

How to clean gutters

  1. Place the ladder at one end of the roof so you can reach into the gutter without much leaning or straining; then you are ready to climb up. Wearing gloves and using the hand trowel, scoop the leaves and debris from the gutter and drop them onto the ground. Keep going until you’ve gotten out all of the gunk that you can possibly get out.
  2. Move the ladder over a few feet and repeat on the next stretch of the gutter. Continue this process and repeat until the whole gutter is clear of leaves and debris.
  3. Use the sprayer to flush out the gutter. Make sure that you direct the stream toward the downspout.
  4. Come down from the ladder and rake up the debris that has been scattered throughout your yard. Place it in as many garbage bags as you need.

How often to clean gutters

We recommend that you clean your gutters twice a year—once in the spring and once in the fall, when your yard gets the heaviest rain and leaf accumulation. If you have an unusually stormy season or live in a heavily forested area, consider adding a third gutter-cleaning each year.

How much gutter cleaning costs

The national average cost for cleaning gutters is $157 and can range between $118 and $225, according to HomeAdvisor. Note that gutter cleaning costs are typically calculated based on the size of your home, so taller homes—homes with second or third stories—will cost more. HomeAdvisor’s data says gutter cleaning for two-story homes can cost between $90 and $225 per cleaning, and three-story homes (or taller) can cost an additional $75 to $200 per cleaning.

If you don’t want to clean your gutters yourself, hiring a pro is always an option—just be aware of the costs.