Like most people, you probably care more about cleaning the inside of your gutters than the outside. After all, the consequences of clogged gutters are too great to ignore, including the potential water damage to your property. But you shouldn’t ignore the outside of your gutters either.
Without proper care, your gutters’ exterior will become unsightly due to moldy spots, streaks of grime, moss, and algae growth. Plus, improper cleaning can lead to corrosion over time.
Fresh, clean gutters will add more curb appeal to your home. Fortunately, keeping them that way doesn’t have to be a chore. If you’re ready to add some sparkle to your house’s exterior, read on to learn the dos and don’ts of exterior gutter cleaning.
Use the Right Cleaning Solution
You need the right cleaning solution to clean the outside of your gutters. Depending on your gutters’ material, you may need to use a special cleaner or detergent. Below are some cleaning solutions you can consider:
Cleaning the outside of gutters with white vinegar is a safe and effective way to remove grime and gunk. To create your homemade cleaner, mix three parts vinegar with one part water and pour it into a spray bottle.
Spray the solution directly onto the gutters and allow it to sit for several minutes to really break down the dirt and grime. Then, scrub them clean using a soft-bristled brush or sponge. Rinse off the solution with a hose or bucket of clean water to prevent any residue from forming on your gutters.
Store-Bought Gutter Cleaner
If you don’t want to make your own cleaner, there are many store-bought gutter cleaners available. You can purchase them at most home improvement stores or online retailers. Consider cleaners from popular brands such as Krud Kutter, 30 Seconds, Chomp, Simple Green, and Formula 409.
Before buying the cleaner, ensure that it suits your gutters’ material. As with all cleaning products, use caution and read the instructions carefully to ensure you get the best results.
Liquid Dish Soap and Baking Soda
A combination of liquid dish soap and baking soda is an effective way to clean the outside of your gutters without harsh chemicals. Baking soda contains mild abrasive properties that are effective at removing dirt, grime, and mildew without damaging the gutters. The solution will break down the dirt particles, making them easier to remove.
Cream of Tartar and Water
Another safe and inexpensive solution is to mix cream of tartar with water. Cream of tartar is an acidic salt, as it’s the powdered form of tartaric acid. The slightly acidic nature of cream of tartar helps it cut through dirt and grime on the outside of your gutters.
To make the solution, mix the cream of tartar with water in a bowl to make a paste. Use a brush to apply this paste on the outside of your gutters. After a few minutes, you can use a hose to wash off the paste and leave your gutter to dry.
Use the Right Equipment and Safety Precautions
When cleaning the outside of your gutters, you need to use the right equipment and take safety precautions. Some of the tools and equipment you’ll need include:
A ladder is necessary for reaching all parts of the gutter. However, you should be careful when using a ladder, as the risk of falling off and sustaining injuries is high. A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that ladder-related falls are responsible for 100 deaths and thousands of injuries every year in the U.S.
If you don’t want to be a part of this statistic, use a sturdy ladder and place it at the correct angle. Follow safety precautions like wearing shoes with good grip and always keeping three points of contact on the ladder.
You can avoid using a ladder by cleaning the outside of your gutters from the ground. In this case, you will need a wand hose attachment that you can attach to any garden hose, making it easy to reach the top of your gutters.
A Garden Hose
A garden hose is essential for rinsing off all the cleaning solutions you’ve applied to your gutters. You’ll need a long enough hose and proper water pressure for an effective rinse.
The water pressure from a garden hose should be enough to loosen stuck-on materials, making it easy to remove even stubborn grime. The hose should be long enough to reach the highest point of your gutters. As mentioned above, you might need a wand hose attachment to get the job done.
Soft-Bristled Brush or Sponge
Soft bristles are effective at removing dirt and debris accumulated in your gutters, yet gentle enough not to damage the surface. Use the brush to scrub away algae, moss, mildew build-up, and any stubborn stains.
A soft-bristled brush or sponge is especially important when cleaning painted surfaces such as vinyl, aluminum, and fiberglass gutters because it won’t scratch the paint. Additionally, they provide better control over scrubbing than a garden hose alone.
Protective gear is also important when cleaning your gutters. The gear includes gloves, safety glasses, and a dust mask to protect you from dirt, debris, and other materials in the gutter. The right gear will help prevent allergic reactions or skin irritation due to contact with these materials.
Protective gear will keep you safe from the harmful chemicals in the cleaning solution. Some chemicals can irritate your eyes or skin, so taking the necessary precautions when handling them is important.
Use the Right Cleaning Technique and Solutions for Different Types of Dirt
Different types of dirt require different cleaning techniques. Here are the various types of dirt you might encounter and how to blast them off your gutter:
Caked-on grime is common on gutters that are exposed to dust and dirt. A soft-bristled brush or sponge will be the best tool for scrubbing away this type of grime. A soft brush is especially vital if you have aluminum gutters, as other tools may scratch the surface. Use a gentle motion and not too much force, as you can damage the surface of your gutter if you are too aggressive when scrubbing. If you don’t want to use a ladder, use an extended brush to reach the highest parts of your gutter.
Moss and Mildew
Moss and mildew are common in wet, humid environments, leaving an unsightly greenish-black film on your gutters. To get rid of them, use a mild bleach-based cleaner that won’t damage the surface of your gutters.
The best thing about bleach is that it will kill any moss or mildew spores, preventing them from spreading further. However, you may also consider using a store-bought cleaner specifically designed to remove moss and mildew.
Black Streaks or Tiger Striping
Tiger stripping refers to the black streaks that may form on the surface of your gutters due to dirt and debris. When these elements mix with moisture, they drip down your gutters, causing black lines.
Tiger striping can be difficult to remove, especially when it has been on the gutters for a long time. As such, it’s best to use a stronger store-bought gutter cleaner.
You can consider painting or replacing the gutter if the cleaner doesn’t work. You can avoid the replacement and painting costs by regularly cleaning your gutter to prevent the buildup of materials that can cause the streaks.
Rust and Corrosion
Aluminum gutters are more durable than other materials because they don’t corrode or rust. However, over time, aluminum can become weak and susceptible to corrosion if exposed to extreme temperatures or moisture for extended periods. The gutters may also corrode if you neglect them for too long.
If normal cleaning doesn’t remove the rust, you can sand the surface or use a wire brush for scrubbing. The downside of this technique is that you’ll remove the aluminum’s protective layer. As such, you should seal the scrubbed surface using paint or a rust sealant.
Pressure Wash With Care
Pressure washing is an effective way of cleaning your gutters, but you must be careful when using this technique. High-pressure jets of water can cause damage to the surface of your gutters if not used correctly.
It can strip away the protective layer on the aluminum gutter, leading to corrosion over time. It also causes vinyl or plastic gutters dents, as these materials cannot withstand high PSI.
For best results, use a low-pressure setting and keep the nozzle at least six inches from the gutter surface. You should also use a wider fan tip because a narrow tip will produce a concentrated water stream that can damage your gutters.
Leave Gutters Cleaning to a Professional Cleaning Company
Your gutters work hard to keep your home and property dry and protected, so they deserve regular pampering to keep them in top condition. Battling dirt, grime, and other elements that stick to the outside of your gutters isn’t easy. For this reason, it’s best to leave the job to a professional cleaning company.Advantage Pro Services should be your go-to cleaning company if you’re in Houston. We have been serving Houstonian homes and businesses for over 20 years, offering gutter cleaning, deck cleaning, window cleaning, and more services. Contact us today to learn how we can take care of your gutters.