If you’ve ever been told you’re stubborn, you’ve probably simmered a little bit with resentment. After all, “stubborn” has a bad reputation. There are positives, though. Put more simply, stubborn people get more done.
What does being stubborn have to do with gutter cleaning? A lot, as it turns out. Over the last few years, as we’ve gotten to know our customers better, we’ve realized that there are two types of people in life—people who clean their gutters, and people who leave it to someone else (a spouse, partner, or hired help). The first category is a big one: there are plenty of homeowners who simply refuse—out of pride, frugality, or pure stubbornness—to leave the job of gutter cleaning to anyone else.
If you are one of those people, or you know and love one of these people, this article is for you. It’s especially for you if the gutter cleaner in question is getting up there in years. Many homeowners are reluctant to pay for professional gutter cleaning service, or they’ve always done it, or they’re committed to do-it-yourself everything—and they won’t let you pry the ladder out of their hands.
If you’re nodding along, this article is for you—and for you to share. Here is how to safely clean the gutters.
The biggest risk in gutter cleaning has to do with ladder safety. Each year, thousands of people are treated for ladder-related injuries, and as many as 300 die. On a ladder, things can go wrong in just seconds—and when you’re up high, you could get hurt (or worse) if you fall. Ladder safety comes down to having a safe, working ladder placed in on stable, level ground. A fall can be catastrophic for older homeowners, so ladder safety is even a higher priority for these folks.
If you’re taking the traditional DIY approach to house gutter cleaning, you’re going to be hauling tools up on that ladder with you: a hose, attachment, a bucket or container for the debris, maybe even a hammer to fix something you’ve found up there. While it’s no big deal to drop one of these things from a few feet above the ground, it’s another entirely to imagine what could happen if you drop a hammer from 15 feet up, and it hits a person or the pup on the way down. The safest way to clean gutters is to clean them from the ground and leave the ladder and a heavy handful of tools out of the job entirely.
It seems like common sense, but it’s not: don’t wear flip-flops or sandals while cleaning the gutters. You want supportive, closed-toe footwear with rubber, non-skid soles, whether you’re climbing a ladder or not—but especially so if you are.
Another common-sense safety principle is don’t overreach—but again, it’s easier said than done. Once you’re up on a ladder, it’s tempting to lean just a bit further to get that last bit of gunk. It’s very easy to lose your balance and end up falling off the ladder.
NOT WEARING GLOVES
What’s sitting in your gutters isn’t soft and silky. It’s spiky and sloppy and sharp, and it’s not going to be fun to grab with bare hands. The gutters themselves can be a hazard, too. They’re made of sheet metal that has been rolled and cut, and they’re studded with screws with sharp ends. As you grasp about in the muck, you run the risk of slicing open your hand if you’re not wearing gloves.
NOT USING THE RIGHT GUTTER CLEANING TOOLS
If you’re going the traditional route, you’ll need the proper tools to clean out gutters. That’s more than a kinked hose, a bucket, and a ladder.
NOT CLEANING AT THE RIGHT TIME
When should you clean the gutters? In general, you’ll want to do it in the spring and fall. Why? The point is to keep water flowing from the rooflines to your drainage system well before summer storms if they’re common in your area. This prevents damage to your house. If you live near pine trees, you might want to clean your gutters every three months.
SAFELY CLEAN THE GUTTERS FROM THE GROUND
It’s all right to embrace stubbornness! Committed do-it-yourselfers don’t have to give up cleaning the gutters or rely on someone else to do it for them. There is a better, safer, easier way to clean gutters from the ground.
Gutter Sense is a lightweight, easy-to-use tool that lets you safely clean gutters from the ground. It attaches to any 12- to 20-foot standard extension pole, so you won’t have to climb a ladder to do the job. This eliminates the first three common mistakes on our list right away!
Gutter Sense’s angled tongs also grab the gutter gunk for you, so there’s no chance you’re going to cut up your hands in the gutter (see #5). And it solves #6 because it’s an easy-to-use, devastatingly effective tool for first- and second-story gutters. This only leaves #7, and we think it will be easy to eliminate as you’ll no longer dread gutter cleaning.
Best of all, gutter sense is easy for anyone to use. Many of our customers are first-time gutter cleaners—they’re new homeowners, or they’ve lost their partner of many years and need to take on this task for the first time. Here at Gutter Sense, we’re plenty stubborn ourselves, and we admire those of like minds. We’ve created a tool to make being stubborn that much safer.
See it in action and purchase online.
This article originally appeared in August 2021 and was updated in March 2023.