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How to Clean Tiger Stripes on Aluminum Gutters (Step By Step)

How to Clean Tiger Stripes on Aluminum Gutters (Step By Step)

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A properly functioning gutter is a necessary implement for every house. It protects your home from water damage from your roof’s rain runoff.

Aside from the practical uses of a gutter, it’s also one of the most visible components of a building. A dirty trough won’t only lead to water issues but will appear unsightly as well.

One issue that most homeowners report is the presence of tiger stripes in their gutters, particularly aluminum ones. Although this type of dirt won’t immediately affect the function of a channel, it can look unappealing to your home’s aesthetic.

Fortunately, you can effortlessly remedy this ugly dirt problem using simple cleaning tools. Keep reading, and let’s teach you how to clean tiger stripes on aluminum gutters!

What Causes Tiger Stripes in Aluminum Gutters?

We know you want to get rid of the dirt from your gutter as soon as possible, but before we delve into cleaning tiger stripes, any homeowner needs to know what causes them.

Gutters are constantly exposed to outside elements. These devices suffer from the mercy of extreme heat, torrential rains, freezing cold, debris, and dust—lots of dust.

Over time, dust, dirt, and mildew collect on the exterior and interior of the water channel. These accumulations typically start at the lip of the water channel and extend to the bottom part.

As the water drips from the lips of the gutter, it’ll form a streak of dirt along its path. Give it enough time, and these dirty streaks will harden and turn into tiger stripes.

Are Tiger Stripes Cause for Concern?

It’s a common question among homeowners with tiger-striped water channels. Do this ugly issue cause concerning consequences to your home?

Thankfully, as we mentioned earlier, the dirt streaks don’t cause immediate problems to your rain gutter system. Your water channels will still function as intended.

However, if left unchecked, the dirt will eventually embed into the paint of your aluminum gutters. Due to oxidation, the stripes will be harder to remove and damage your gutter finish.

In such cases, even power washing may not be able to clean your water channels. You may need to call a gutter cleaning service to solve the unsightly problem—which means more costs!

How to Clean Tiger Stripes from Your Gutters

Removing tiger stripes is easy if you use the right tools. And luckily, you can utilize products you probably already have in your home or kitchen.


Examining the severity of the tiger stripes is the first thing you should do. You can evaluate the dirt based on the time of your last cleaning and the color of the streaks.

Superficial tiger strips that haven’t been ingrained will look brownish or lighter. You may be able to remedy these dirt stripes with regular cleaning products.

Sometimes they’ll appear black with greenish undertones. The darker color means the dirt is several months old, which needs more powerful and specialized gutter cleaning tools.

What Cleaning Products Should You Use?

Cleaning embedded gutter stains is tough if you don’t know what materials to use. So, here are the tools to clean tiger stripes on your aluminum gutter.

Depending on the degree of dirt, you may replace the aluminum gutter cleaner with regular cleaning brands. You may use detergent or potent cleaning soap products as an alternative.

Steps in Cleaning Tiger Stripes

Don’t forget to wear your goggles and gloves to lessen the risk of injury. Follow these steps to clean the dirty streaks off gutter channels:

Step 1: Setting Up

First and foremost, gutter cleaners typically use potent chemicals that can be toxic to plants and animals. As such, you should clear the area before spraying and wiping.

Now, it’s usually the case that homeowners set up plants and flowers under the rain gutters. If you do, move them to safer areas where they’re safe from chemical mist and droplets.

If you have kids or pets, you must secure them away while cleaning. Aside from the hazardous chemicals, they could be endangered by falling debris or tools.

Step 2: Bottling Up

After clearing everything around the cleaning area, you may prepare your aluminum gutter cleaner. A convenient way to use this cleaning solution is through spray bottles.

Some brands would require you to mix solvents or water in the mix. So, don’t forget to read the instructions and follow them to the letter for the best results.

To conserve your gutter cleaner solution, only use it on tough stains. Milder dirt stripes should come off with regular cleaning materials, such as water, soap, and a sponge.

Step 3: Climbing Up

When the gutter cleaner solution, brush, sponge, hand shovel, and bucket are all ready, you may begin cleaning. Take your ladder and place it on the side of your water channel.

You can tie the ladder to the roof truss with a strong rope for more security. This method will ensure that the ladder doesn’t slide down or sideways while you’re working.

Once your ladder is secured, take your hand shovel and scoop out leaves and other debris from the water channel. It will allow for a better view of your target and save you time when cleaning your gutters the next time!

Step 4: Washing Up

After clearing the debris, the next step is to get your garden hose and spray it on the interior and exterior of the water channel. It will clear up the remaining dust and debris.

Let the gutter dry out for a few minutes before applying the cleaning solution. It’s so that the potency of the cleaner doesn’t tone down because of moisture.

Next, apply a generous amount of your gutter-cleaning solution to the tiger stripes. Follow it up by wiping or brushing to remove the deep-seated stains on the surface and crevices.

Some brands will instruct you to let the liquid soak for a few minutes, while others will allow you to rinse it immediately after application. This step will depend on the type of solution you have.

Step 5: Rinsing Up

Rinse up when you’ve cleaned and covered all dirty surfaces. Take your garden hose and spray the gutter to wash up the chemical cleaners.

You may reapply the cleaning solution more than once for the cleanest results. When washing, make sure to rinse the underside of the roof for chemical residues.

If a longer garden hose isn’t available, you can use buckets and splash the water manually. After rinsing, clean up and hide the remaining gutter cleaner solution from sight.

Afterward, let all sides of your gutter system dry thoroughly. Avoid placing your plants when the underside of the water channels is still dripping.

How to Prevent Tiger Stripes from Forming in Your Gutters

Like any gutter system issue, appropriate and regular maintenance can prevent unsightly tiger stripes from accumulating on your rain gutters.

To create a maintenance schedule, consider the location of your house. If you live near busy streets, forests, and constantly raining areas, you may need to clean up multiple times per year.

Here’s another pro tip, install gutter guards to minimize the chances of dirt collecting on the lips of your water channels. It’s also a practice device to prevent clogging and debris from entering and blocking your troughs and downspouts.

Finally, only use aluminum-safe cleaners when washing your gutters. Some cleaning brands are highly corrosive, which will likely reduce the integrity of your metal channels.

Final Thoughts

Here’s a final warning, while tiger stripes don’t pose critical problems aside from being unsightly, they may be a sign of gutter-cleaning that’s well overdue.

Regular maintenance is the key to keeping up with dust, debris, and mold accumulation. Use the techniques we discussed above, and your water channels will be squeaky clean in no time!


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