How to Clean Your Eaves Troughs

Eaves on a roof.
  • 1-3 hours
  • Beginner
  • 0-20
What You'll Need
Gutter toppers (optional)
What You'll Need
Gutter toppers (optional)

Cleaning out the eaves troughs is never a fun task but, unfortunately, it is a necessary evil of home maintenance. Failing to flush out your troughs and keep them clear of debris can lead to gutter rusting and roof damage, not to mention the fact that decaying plant matter in your gutters can smell horrible and stain the sides of your home. Taking a short amount of time to clean out your eaves troughs, two or three times a year, will minimize damage to the home, not to mention making the job easier to complete.


The purpose of the eaves trough, or gutter, is to direct rainwater off your roof and away from your home. This helps to prevent standing water around your home and minimizes the amount of damage that your home will suffer from water during the rainy season or even spring thaw. When these troughs become blocked, however, it allows the water to sit there in the troughs and this can eventually lead to rusting eaves troughs and a leaking roof; neither of which is fun to repair. If you stay on top of this job, it will be quick and virtually effortless.

Use a Trowel

There are several ways of cleaning your eaves troughs. While some companies market special gutter rakes and eaves trowels, the task can be done with a simple garden trowel. In addition to this, you will also want a sturdy and reliable ladder, some rubber gloves, and a garden hose, preferably equipped with a spray and stream adjustable nozzle (you will want to turn it to stream). Some people will suggest using a power washer, but this is not advisable — not only is it dangerous to use a power washer from atop a ladder, but you also risk damaging your home due to the angle you would have to spray at.

Drain Pipe

For best results, start at the drain pipe that leads down off the side of your house and to where the water is draining off to. Ensure that nothing is obstructing the end of this pipe and that it’s draining to a good area, where you won’t be walking around. Once you have cleared away anything in the way, spray water down your pipe and continue to do so until the water runs clear out onto the ground. When it has done so, you’re safe to move on.

Working your way back from the drainpipe, use your trowel to scoop and scrape any debris you find out of the eaves troughs. While you’re working on the roof, it’s highly advisable that you have someone with you, helping to support the ladder. Take your time and be sure never to over-stretch. It’s much easier to get down and move the ladder over than to try and reach an itch in a body cast. Safety should always come first.

Alternate between scooping, scraping and spraying, ensuring that the water flows easily behind your work area and that no small sticks or leaves escape, that could get down inside and block up your eaves trough again. In no time, you will be done with this task and, if you do it every few months, you’ll find it’s a quick snap to spray out the gutters and then put all your supplies away. Like many things in life; an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.


If you really want to make your job a snap, look into purchasing gutter toppers or eaves trough screens. Toppers block debris and keep it from getting into your gutters in the first place. Toppers can be a hassle to install but make for a lot less work in the long run.

Cleaning the eaves troughs isn’t really that much of a chore and it is necessary to maintain a beautiful and trouble-free home. Regular cleanings will save you time and energy, and you can rest easier, knowing you’ve taken these extra steps to keep your home beautiful, inside and out. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to get to cleaning.