You use vinegar to wash the windows, polish mirrors, and descale the coffee maker. But will it really remove stains from the gutters? You don’t just want to do away with leaves, twigs, seed pods, and other types of organic debris – you also want to make unattractive stains disappear. Aren’t heavy duty over-the-counter cleaners better suited to such home maintenance tasks as gutter cleaning and washing the siding? When cleaning the gutters this fall, consider using some of these earth friendly homemade gutter cleaning solutions. They’re safer for the environment, and the results just might surprise you.
White Vinegar and Water
White vinegar is a popular household cleaner for a reason – it gets the job done. And it will also dissolve the common and tough stains found on gutters, both inside and out.
In a pail, mix equal parts of warm water and white vinegar.
Inside the gutters: Once the debris has been removed, the white vinegar solution will need to sit inside the gutter trough for at least one hour. To stop the liquid from flowing straight down the downspouts, plug the gutter outlet before pouring the cleaner inside the gutters. Gently scrub with a soft-bristle brush. After scrubbing the gutter run, pour in more vinegar cleaning solution. Let it sit for another hour. Remove the plug from the gutter outlet before rinsing the inside of the gutters with a garden hose.
Outside the gutters: Apply solution with a soft-bristle brush in small circles. Scrub until the area is clear of all dirt, marks, and streaks. For stubborn stains, apply more white vinegar solution and a little more pressure if needed.
Liquid Detergent, Bleach, and Water
A solution of liquid detergent and bleach makes the ideal all-purpose cleaner for a number of gutter systems including aluminum gutters and vinyl gutters. When making any type of homemade cleaning solution that uses bleach or other kinds of potentially harmful chemicals, ensure the surrounding area is protected by covering the ground directly beneath the gutters and any nearby landscaping.
Add some liquid detergent and 79 ml (1/2 cup) of bleach to eight litres (2 gallons) of water. Mix well by stirring slowly to avoid suds.
Inside the gutters: Apply the cleaning solution to the inside sides of the gutters with a soft-bristled brush. Scrub gently. Plug the gutter outlet before pouring the solution into the bottom of the trough. Let it sit for at least 15 minutes before scrubbing the bottom and the sides again. Unplug the gutter outlet to release the dirty water. Rinse thoroughly with a garden hose.
Outside the gutters: If stains aren’t removed with the first application, reapply with a brush or a cloth made of natural fibres and let it sit on the stain for 10 to 15 minutes before rinsing.
Cream of Tartar Paste
Cream of tartar, also known as potassium hydrogen tartrate, has powerful buffing and cleaning properties. Used as a paste, it makes the outside of your gutters sparkle.
Take a small amount of cream of tartar. Add just enough water to form a paste – too much liquid will make it runny and the solution won’t be as effective.
Inside the gutters: Once the gutters have been cleared of debris, use the cream of tartar paste only for stubborn stains, or really stained patches. Apply the paste with a soft-bristled brush. Let it sit for 10 minutes before rinsing with a garden hose. Cleaning inside the entire gutter run with cream of tartar paste might prove too labour-intensive.
Outside the gutters: Use a soft-bristled brush or a cloth to apply the paste in small circles. Let is sit for at least 10 minutes before rinsing with water. Buff and dry with a clean cloth.
Baking Soda and Water
Baking soda is a common household cleaner that you can use in and on your gutter system to break up stains and decontaminate the gutters and downspouts. Because baking soda has abrasive properties, use it with caution on aluminum gutters.
Fill a pail half full with warm water. Add ¼ cup backing soda. Stir until it is completely dissolved.
This solution can be applied to inside the gutters and outside of the gutters and downspouts using the same method.
Dip a soft-bristled brush or a cloth into the baking soda and water solution. Apply the cleaning solution in a circular motion. Do only small sections at a time, both scrubbing and then rinsing – you don’t want the solution to dry once it’s been applied. When the sections of the entire run have been cleaned, rinse the gutters and downspouts again.
TSP-PF, Bleach, and Water
Another popular cleaner people have around the house is TSP or Trisodium Phospate, a cleaning powder with degreasing and cleaning properties. The phosphate-free version has no phosphate, which can be harmful to the environment. TSP-PF is made up of a mineral called sodium sesquicarbonate, a mineral similar to baking soda. Since the cleaning solution includes bleach, lay down a tarp or a sheet of plastic to protect any nearby vegetation.
Take one cup of TSP-PF, ½ cup bleach, and a pail of hot water. Mix thoroughly.
Inside the gutters: Pour the solution into the gutter trough. The mixture should dissolve any stains. To remove stubborn stains, scrub with a soft-bristled brush. Rinse the inside of the gutters thoroughly with a garden hose or multiple pails of water to eliminate any remaining residue.
Outside the gutters: Apply the solution with a soft-bristled brush or cloth. Gently scrub until stains and grime have disappeared. Do small sections at a time and rinse thoroughly before moving onto the next section.