Gutter cleaning is a messy job, but someone has to do it. And at many homes, it’s the homeowner who does it. 

It looks like a job that’s easy to do but looks can be deceiving. Gutter cleaning can be complicated and dangerous, especially if your home has second-story gutters. It’s even riskier if you’ve never taken on the job before. 

Many homeowners, though, are reluctant to pay for professional gutter cleaning. If you’re a committed do-it-yourself homeowner, you should know how to clean your gutters without making these seven common mistakes.  

Poor ladder safety precautions 

The #1 mistake most people make in gutter cleaning is not following ladder safety precautions. 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’re going to get hurt (or worse) if you fall. And there’s a lot that can go wrong, from a ladder in disrepair to unstable placement to unexpected contact with electrical wiring, or sudden vertigo or dizziness, which is more common than many people realize. 

If you are going to go up on a ladder, for gutters or any other reason, be sure you’re placing the ladder securely and ask a family member to hold the ladder for stability. 

Dropping tools

If you’re taking the traditional DIY approach to 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.  

Improper footwear

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. 

Overreaching

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 cleaning tools

If you’re going the traditional route, you’ll need the proper tools to clean out the gutters. That’s more than a kinked hose, a bucket, and a ladder. 

Not cleaning at the right time

When do 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. 

If you’re rethinking how to clean the gutters, it’s time to look at a better, safer, easier way. Gutter Sense is a lightweight, easy-to-use tool to clean gutters from the ground. It attaches to any 12- to 20-foot standard extension pole, so you don’t have to climb a ladder to get the job done. 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 getting the job done.