The Tools You Need To Clean Gutters

pressure washing a gutter

Let’s be real. No one looks forward to gutter cleaning. However, gutter cleaning is a dirty job with a big payoff. Your gutters protect your home from water damage diverting rain away from your foundation. Most DIY-savvy homeowners can safely clear clogs in their own gutters with minimal tools and skills. In fact, you may have the tools you need to clean gutters in your garage or garden shed right now. 

Whether you are in a one-story or two-story home, we’ve got you covered. We’ve compiled a list of the best gutter cleaning tools you’ll need with safety in mind. We’ve got pro tips so you can take on this home improvement project yourself and when to call a professional. 

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Basic Tools

The first step is to evaluate what tools you will need to tackle this job. The good news is most homeowners have the basic tools to clean the gutters in their garage or tool shed. Pros advise cleaning gutters using an extension ladder or working from the ground using extension wands or gutter cleaning kits. We do not recommend walking on the roof to clean gutters from above. 

Here is a list of basic tools you’ll need to keep your gutters clean: 

  • Extension Ladder – Experts recommend a high-quality ladder that can extend at least 4 feet above gutter height. Just like any tool, inspect your ladder before using it. Always use the three points of contact rule for any ladder work – this means both feet are securely on the ladder, and one hand is gripping the ladder. Don’t use the gutter for stability while cleaning. Gutters are not stable enough to prevent a fall. The pros recommend cleaning gutters in 5-foot sections.  
  • Buckets or Yard Waste Bags – A bucket or yard waste bag with a sturdy handle is a great place to put gutter debris instead of letting it fall to the ground. Place the bucket or bag on your roof line or hang it from the ladder at the waist-high step. If leaf debris is wet or molded, the bucket method is the recommended method of removal.
  • Drop Cloth or Tarp – Use a drop cloth or tarp to help catch dry leaves, twigs, and sticks. Wear eye protection in case the wind blows debris and dirt back at you. 
  • Brush, Trowel, or Gutter Scoop – Any sturdy hand-held scoop or trowel will work to clean large debris and clogged gutters. After leaves are scooped and removed, the pros advise using a brush or water to move dirt so that you can inspect for holes and cracks. Try the Gutter Getter scoop from Amazon.
  • Garden Hose with Pressure Nozzle – A hose is a great way to clean gutters after removing larger debris. Adding a pressure nozzle to direct water flow can help make the job easier.
  • Grabbers, Snakes, and Tongs – Cleaning downspouts around roof corners and gutter guards can require tricky maneuvers. Grabbers like the Gutterwhiz can help you reach debris and grab it to save you time and effort. Using tongs to pull out leaves from the bottom of downspouts or using a flexible rod with or without a brush attachment can push compacted debris loose. 
  • Extension Poles – Several brands of universal, multi-purpose extension poles on the market can come in handy when cleaning your gutters. These poles attach to wands, brush handles, and even scoops, giving you a farther reach. 
  • Personal Protection – Wear gloves and long sleeves to protect your arms from sharp gutter edges and branches. Shoes with a rubber sole will grip better on the ladder, helping prevent falls. Lastly, eye and sun protection is recommended. 

Tools for the Two-Story Home

A home with two-story gutters can have gutter cleaning challenges that some homeowners are not willing to tackle and rely on professional gutter cleaning. If you decide to take on the project yourself, here are the tips the pros use to clean hard-to-reach second-story gutters.

  • Using a Ladder – Most two-story homes have a roof line over 20 feet. Your ladder should extend past the roof line by at least 4 feet for stability and safety. If you are leaning the ladder against the gutter, choose an area with a bracket or clip for additional stability. It’s safest to lean the ladder on the roof edge instead of the gutter system. 
  • Extendable Tools – Use a telescoping gutter cleaning wand or extendable rod with a hook or brush attachment on the top to clear gutters. Some of these tools can extend up to 30 feet, meaning you can clean your gutters from the ground. Using basic tools like tarps, eye protection, and gloves will make the job and clean-up easier. 

Using Pressurized Water

pressure washing on roof and gutter
Photo Credit: welcomia / Canva Pro / License

Using a power washer is a great way to clean your gutters. You can purchase gutter-cleaning attachments for your power washer. If all you have is a water hose, you can purchase attachment spray head tools specifically pressured for cleaning.

Pressurized water efficiently clears gutters by pushing debris out and away, allowing debris to fall to the ground, and it can remove dirt or silt. As easy as power washing seems, the pros recommend pulling larger areas of buildup out of gutters by hand or using hand tools before attempting to power wash.

  • Pressure Power Washer – Using a specialized machine that uses forced water to clean your gutters is a time and energy-saving way to do the job. Using a gutter cleaning attachment will reduce damage to your gutters. Wash away from downspouts so that power washing does not create the bigger problem of clogging drains and downspouts.
  • Water Hose with Nozzle – A garden hose can be useful when adding a water nozzle that can move debris, leaves, and dirt from gutters. The pros recommend using a 25-degree, green nozzle pressure tip that gives you just enough pressure to push leaves and dirt from gutters without causing damage. 

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Using a Leaf Blower

rain gutter full of leaves
Photo Credit: soupstock / Canva Pro / License

A leaf blower can be a great way to clean gutters quickly and easily. Just understand that a leaf blower can force debris under eaves, which can cause a bigger problem than dirty gutters. Use a leaf blower gutter cleaning attachment to ensure you are not damaging your roof or gutters. 

  • Attachments and Extensions – Attachments for leaf blowers can reach up to 20 feet, and extenders may get you even farther, depending on your leaf blower’s power. Using forced air to clean your gutters can launch debris and dirt into the air, so the pros recommend eye and face protection. 

Using a Brush Tool

brush tool for cleaning gutter
Photo Credit: DenBoma / Canva Pro / License

A brush tool will have a telescoping handle that reaches up to 6 feet. The sturdy rounded brush on the end fits inside your gutter so you can push out debris. These tools also have various accessories you can swap out for the brush, including hooks and scrapers.

  • Water-Fed Brush Tool – A water-fed brush tool uses a water hose to both brush and wash gutters at the same time. Its nozzle regulates water pressure through a brush that helps to clean gutters effectively without causing damage. 
  • Angled Gutter Cleaning Brush – Choosing a telescoping brush with an angled head can be a more comfortable way to clean gutters. The angle allows for better removal with less effort. 


Q. How can I keep pine needles out of my gutters?

A. Gutter guards are good at keeping pine needles and other debris out of gutters. These are removed while you clean, then they pop right back onto your gutter system, keeping your gutters clear for another season.

Q. Can I use my shop vac to clean my gutters?

A. Using a shop vac to clean gutters is certainly possible if you have the right vacuum accessories. Some shop vacs have gutter cleaning accessories that let you clean from the ground, and they are great at sucking up the gunk that gets stuck near rain-gutter downspouts.

When To Hire a Pro

Whichever method you choose to clean your gutters MyGutterGnome is the place for expert advice, information, and all things related to your home’s gutter system. We also can connect you with a local gutter company if you’d rather leave cleaning to the pros.

You’ve got gutter and gutter guard questions. We’ve got answers. Find a pro near you.

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Main Image Credit: BanksPhotos / Canva Pro / License

Robin Chipman

Robin Chipman is a technical writer working toward her master's degree in Strategic Communication. She teaches QiGong in her community and enjoys exploring nature or sipping on a cup of herbal tea.