Your home’s gutter system is a vital drainage system that can protect your home’s foundation and landscaping from excessive moisture. However, even well-functioning gutters will need to be periodically cleaned and rinsed to keep them free of debris. While performing this type of maintenance, you may have to flush large amounts of water into your gutter drainage system.

Large amounts of water can be problematic for your home’s foundation and landscaping. If you are also cleaning your roof at the same time, the chemical runoff can also damage your plants. Rain gutter downspout bags are useful in these situations as they provide a place for the water and chemical runoff to go so you are not dealing with too much moisture while you clean.

I’ve put together this guide to provide you with an overview of gutter downspout bags. I’ll also discuss when you should use them, and how you can incorporate them into your DIY gutter maintenance process. Let’s start by looking at what gutter downspout bags are and why they are useful?

*Costs in this article sourced from product averages from Lowe’s and Amazon.

What Are Gutter Downspout Bags?

Gutter downspout bags are temporary water collection devices that attach to the end of a downspout to catch the water runoff from gutters. They are usually made of durable, waterproof materials like vinyl or polyethylene. They can be used to help alleviate the effects of heavy rains. But they are especially useful when you need to temporarily redirect water away from areas when you are getting a roof cleaning, house cleaning, flushing your gutters, or repairing your drainage system.

Why Are Gutter Downspout Bags Useful?

Bagging gutters prevents water damage from excessive drainage. I recommend purchasing gutter downspout bags for the following reasons.

Flowing water can erode the soil at the base of your home’s external walls. Moisture accumulation in your home’s structural foundation can cause brick and mortar cracks, leading to bigger durability problems. Opting for a gutter downspout bag can prevent this water from running where it shouldn’t, which is important when you are flushing or cleaning your gutters.

Gutters and downspouts which are older or cannot handle large amounts of water are at risk of collapsing. This, in turn can cause your house’s drainage system to pull away from the exterior paneling, causing damage to your siding and fascia. Gutter downspout bags can help alleviate this issue by providing the water with someplace to go as you clean and inspect your gutter system.

When you are cleaning your gutter system, large amounts of water can flow onto your landscaping and result in erosion. Additionally, if you clean your roof, chemicals can flow off the eaves, through your gutters, and onto your plants, damaging them. Gutter downspout bags can protect your lawn by collecting rainwater and greywater and redirecting it away from your landscaping.

If you are looking to buy gutter downspout bags, there are a few considerations to keep in mind, starting with the best type of materials for your situation.

There are a variety of materials that you can use for a gutter downspout bag, but I find that heavy-duty poly tubing rolls work best. I recommend purchasing a roll with a thickness of at least 4mm so it can contain any moisture and chemical runoff. Depending on its thickness and width, a poly-tubing roll offers versatility and flexibility in holding as much fluid as possible. 

Poly tubing rolls, which are sometimes sold as discharge hoses, are very durable which can work as diversion tubes and gutter downspout bags. You just simply have to tie and seal both ends of the tubing roll, and you’re good to go. You can also leave the end unsealed and direct the bag into a bucket or storm drain system. You can purchase a 500-foot roll of poly tubing for between $25 and $60, depending on the thickness of the plastic.

You can also purchase downspout extension bags, which are designed to be reused. Often sold as downspout extenders, these models often have plastic end caps that make draining these bags easy. Keep in mind that downspout extenders are usually around four feet long — making them not ideal for projects where you want to redirect the water well away from the house. You can purchase these at most home supply stores for around $20 a piece.

Once you’ve purchased gutter downspout bags, you are ready to clean your house’s drainage system.

How to DIY a Gutter Cleaning

Gutters and downspouts are essential components of your drainage system. If they are not maintained properly, leaves and debris can clog them, leading to overflowing or sagging gutters. Generally, fall and spring are the best times to clean your gutters and downspouts. Keep in mind that this DIY home maintenance project will require you to work at heights for a long time. If you are not comfortable with doing so, I recommend reaching out to a professional in your area.

Materials You’ll Need

You’ll need the following materials to clean your gutters and downspouts:

  • Rag for cleaning up;
  • Leaf scooper and bucket;
  • Gutter downspout bags to contain drainage;
  • A sturdy ladder set to get up and reach the gutters;
  • A pair of work gloves to prevent your hands from getting injured;
  • Drop cloths to place on the lawn;
  • Wire-handled bucket, if you are using the gutter bucket method;
  • Trash bags if you are using the trash bag method;
  • Garden hose to clean up anything that has been missed by manual labor.

    I don’t recommend using a pressure washer for this home improvement project, because the intense spray can damage your gutters. After you’ve gathered all of your supplies, it’s time to begin.


You should choose a day with mild temperatures and weather for this DIY project. Temperatures which are too hot can make working outside uncomfortable, especially when working with metal gutters. Days which are too cold risk the formation of ice, which can create unsafe working conditions.

Make sure that the ladder that you are using is placed on a solid and flat surface. Don’t lean on the ladder while you are working. Instead, I recommend moving it so you are as close to the area that you are cleaning as possible.

Before cleaning your gutters, attach the gutter downspout bags to each drainage point. This will protect your landscaping and help contain any chemicals that may run off. Now you can begin cleaning your gutters using your preferred method.

Methods for Cleaning Your Gutters and Downspouts

Generally, there are three methods of cleaning your gutters and downspouts. Choosing what method to use depends on if you are working to remove wet or dry debris. Let’s look at these three methods below.

The scoop and drop method is ideal for cleaning out soggy and wet debris. With this method, you scoop up wet debris from the gutter and drop it on a cloth or tarp placed on the ground. As you move and reach the other parts of the gutter, the tarp or cloth also moves with you. 

When the tarp becomes full of debris, you can dump it in your garbage bag or on a compost pile. 

Another useful method in cleaning out wet debris is the gutter bucket method; it is also one of the most common ways to clean out gutters. For this method, you will need a wire-handled bucket. You will need to cut the wire handles in half and turn them into hooks. 

The handle hooks are attached to the gutter, and you move them along with you as you clean the gutters. However, this method is more tiring because it involves going up and down your ladder several times since you need to dump the debris inside the bucket. 

The gutter bag method is ideal for dry debris. You also need a wire-handled bucket to the gutter with this method. The difference between this method with the gutter bucket is the hole you need to cut at the bottom of the bucket, where you’ll attach a garbage bag. 

When you dump debris into the bucket, the debris shoots into the garbage bag. This method is efficient as long as there is no heavy debris. 

After cleaning, the final step is rinsing and flushing your gutters and downspouts to remove any lingering debris. You can do this by inserting the garden hose and running it into the farthest section from the opening of the downspout. Having gutter bags attached to each of your downspouts is useful for this step as they can catch any remaining debris and protect your landscaping from excessive moisture. Don’t power-wash your gutters because the excessive force can clear out debris but also result in damage to your gutters. 

Today’s Homeowner Tips

Your gutters are completely cleaned if the water from the hose can completely run through your drain system without encountering any clogs or debris.

Final Thoughts

Gutter downspout bags are useful whether you are cleaning your gutters yourself, or if you are working with a professional to clean your roof. Even if you are not running chemicals through your gutter system, having downspout bags can prevent excessive amounts of moisture from flowing towards your home’s foundation or landscaping as you flush your gutter system.

Frequently Asked Questions About Gutter Downspout Bags

How much water can gutter downspout bags hold?

Capacity varies by model, but most range from 25–100 gallons or more. It depends on the size of the bag.

Are gutter downspout bags reusable?

Some gutter downspout bags, often called downspout extenders, are designed to be reused. You do need to clean and store them properly to prolong their lifespan.

Are gutter downspout jobs durable enough for heavy rains?

When properly installed and sized for the expected water flow, they can typically handle very heavy downpours.

How do you drain gutter downspout bags when they are full?

For bags that are designed to be disposed of, you can remove them from the gutter system, tie them off, and dispose of them.

Downspout bags, which are designed to be reused, often have caps that they be removed to drain them.

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Reviewed for accuracy, cost data, industry best practices, and expert advice by Nikki Stavile.
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Nikki Stavile

Nikki Stavile is a writer based in Tucson, Arizona. As an avid backpacker and passionate environmentalist, her work often focuses on sustainable movements at the personal and societal level.

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