If you own a home with gutters, you know it's important to clean them out regularly. Experts say this task should be done twice a year, in early autumn and spring. Although routine, the task is not without potential dangers. Most homeowners know to be careful on a ladder when cleaning out gutters, but many neglect to protect against cuts and scrapes to their hands. As you clean out your home's rain gutters in the coming months, keep your hands safe by putting on the right type of gloves.
The Dangers You Face When Cleaning Gutters
Cleaning gutters out is a simple process:
- Reach into the gutter.
- Grab whatever you can.
- Pull the debris out.
- Repeat until all junk is removed.
Many times, it's impossible to see what you're grabbing when reaching into a gutter. Even if you're up high enough on a ladder to peer into the gutter, you won't be able to see what lies below the topmost layer of leaves and debris. The lack of visibility presents two dangers.
First, your hand may come into contact with rotten items that have mold and bacteria growing on them. In addition to leaves and branches, there may also be rodent droppings, bird poop and dead insects in the gutters. All winter long, everything in your gutters has been decomposing. Any pathogens introduced by birds, rodents or insects have had months to grow on the wet debris as it rotted.
Second, you could cut your hand on unseen metal edges. Sharp metal protrusions are more common in old gutters that are starting to corrode, but newly installed rain gutters can also have metal edges sticking out. Corners of metal plates and screws are particularly dangerous, as they poke out from the gutter's walls. They're also where the debris often collects, making it difficult to see them.
Two Gloves for Cleaning Out Rain Gutters
Wearing gloves won't eliminate all dangers, but they will help you keep your hands safe from pathogens and sharp metal pieces while cleaning out your rain gutters. There are two main types of gloves to wear when for the job, each of which protects against only one of the two risks.
Latex or rubber gloves create an impenetrable barrier that mold and bacteria can't get through. Even if you grab a dead animal, these gloves will protect your hands from any pathogens that the decomposing matter has -- as long as they're free from holes.
Latex and rubber gloves don't provide a good defense against metal. They'll easily tear on a sharp piece of metal, and they won't prevent you from getting cut.
Cotton gloves will give you a better defense against metal edges. They'll soak up water and let pathogens pass through, but they won't easily tear on a metal object. Because they're thicker than latex or rubber gloves, and don't tear easily, they'll protect your hands from cuts.
Protect Your Hands by Wearing Both Gloves
For the best protection, wear both kinds of gloves when you go to clean your rain gutters.
First, put on either a pair of latex or rubber gloves. Ideally, these should reach up to your elbow so that nothing gets inside of them when you reach down into the gutters.
Second, put on a pair of cotton gloves over the latex or rubber ones. The cotton gloves don't need to ride up as high on your arm. Their purpose is to protect both the other gloves and your hands from sharp metal objects, which you're first likely to encounter with your hand. Once you feel the metal edges, you can avoid scraping your arm against them.
Don't underestimate the dangers of cleaning out rain gutters. Protect your hands with the right gloves when you go to perform this routine home maintenance this spring so that they don't become infected or cut. For more tips, contact a professional, like those at Custom Exteriors.