Cleaning the Gutters Inside and Out

After the gunk has been cleared out of the gutter troughs, it’s customary to rinse the inside and outside of the gutters to finish the job. Sometimes, however, your gutter system needs a more thorough scrubbing than rinsing alone can provide. Here are some tips for cleaning the gutters inside and out.

Inside of the Gutters

You get why the gutter system has to be cleared of clog-forming debris, but why bother with cleaning the inside of the gutters when they can’t be seen? Stains compromise the finish of aluminum gutters and vinyl gutters, decreasing the gutter material’s ability to inhibit moisture penetration. Aluminum gutters can develop rust spots that start out as pinholes and eventually become holes that can’t be repaired. Vinyl gutters might start to split or crack over time.

To clean the inside of gutters use a vinegar/warm water solution. Before applying, ensure that the gutter channel is free of any debris. Block the gutter outlets (where downspouts connect to the gutter system). Pour the vinegar mixture into the gutter trough. Let it sit for 30 to 60 minutes. Unplug the outlet and then rinse the inside of the gutters. Remove any remaining residue with a soft bristle brush. Vinegar won’t harm your aluminum gutter system.

Outside of the Gutters

Dirt marks on the outside of the gutters are often the first warning sign of clogged gutters causing rainwater to spill over the outside of your gutters. Dark vertical streaks, often referred to as tiger striping, on the outside of gutters can seriously mess with your curb appeal. While making the exterior of your home appear dingy and dirty, tiger striping can also damage the gutter’s protective finish, potentially leading to a breakdown of the gutter system.

Depending on the severity of the black streaks, particulates can be removed with a number of cleaning products including TSP and dish detergent. If the streaks are lighter in colour, cleaning with liquid dish detergent might be all the cleaning power you’ll need.

To remove darker surface grime and streaks from the outside of the gutters, mix TSP (trisodium phosphate) with hot water, adding the appropriate amount of bleach if needed. Apply solvent to the gutter section with a soft-bristle brush or cloth and let it sit on the surface for 10 to 15 minutes before rinsing.

Inside and Outside Cleaning Tips

Be safe – wear protective eyewear and gloves when handling and cleaning with solvents.

Before cleaning inside or outside, determine what kind of cleaning solution is best for the material the gutters are made of and the intensity (amount) of the dirt. Use stronger solvents only when necessary.

Spray the gutters first to wash away dust and break-up loose dirt and other surface pollutants.

When rinsing off the dirt use warm water.