How To Clean Tiger Stripes On Aluminum Gutters


Tiger stripes, those dark vertical stripes that appear on aluminum rain gutters. Customers sometimes call us about these dark stripes that will not wash off.

The first assumption is that the paint has gone bad. This is usually not the case.

Naturally, pollution and dirt build up on the top lip of the gutter. When moisture combines with these pollutants, it streams down the face of the gutter. Future precipitation will continuously follow the same path.

Over time, the buildup becomes alternating light and dark stripes

Rain gutters require regular maintenance to prevent the normal buildup of soil deposits and oxide accumulations. The level of maintenance depends solely on the atmospheric conditions in a geographic region.


Simple cleaning procedures should be performed to reduce the buildup of these deposits. Tiger stripes imply an already heavy buildup on the gutters and will require a strong cleaning solution.

Instructions…The following simple cleaning procedure should be performed at least once a year or more often if necessary.

General cleaning…For surface soil and stains, such as those resulting from industrial fallout, tree sap, insecticides, or chimney fumes, use an ordinary nonabrasive household detergent like KRUD KUTTER GC32 Gutter Cleaner, 32-Ounce, or Gutter Zap Cleaner for your Gutters.

The solution should be applied to the soiled surface using a soft rag, sponge, or soft bristle brush with a gentle rubbing action. Do not rub vigorously to create glossy areas over the satin finish.

Soft bristle brushes equipped with a long extension handle may be used to reach some of the higher areas. It is important that immediately following all washing operations, the entire surface is thoroughly rinsed with water.

Stubborn stains…If stubborn stains are encountered, use a heavy-duty cleaner such as Johnson S C Inc 00286 Fantastik All-Purpose Cleaner.

Heavy soil deposits may not be removable in one application and may require repeated cleaning over some length of time. Do not use cleaners containing abrasive particles, ammonia, solvents, or paint removers for cleaning.

These materials may soften or remove the finish.

Climatic Problems…Climates vary considerably from one locality to the next. In some areas, mildew may be a problem. It appears as black spots on the surface and is usually detected first on the underside of the gutter.

For removal, prepare the solution below and apply as outlined above.

1/3 cup detergent (Tide Ultra Powder, 24 Loads, Original Scent, 33 Ounce for example)

2/3 cup Savogran 10621 Trisodium Phosphate (TSP)

NOTE: Sodium phosphate (TSP) is a cleaning agent, food additive, stain remover, and degreaser. It is a white, granular, or crystalline solid, highly soluble in water producing an alkaline solution.

Most often found in white powder form, it can also be called trisodium orthophosphate or just plain sodium phosphate.

Trisodium phosphate was at one time extensively used in formulations for a wide variety of consumer-grade soaps and detergents, but ecological problems have largely ended that practice, at least in the western world.

Substitutes are not as effective, but the raw chemical can be bought in bulk.

1 quart 5% Sodium Hypochlorite solution Clorox Ultra Bleach 3 qt (96 fl oz) 2.84 l for example

3 quarts water

WARNING…The above products can cause severe eye damage and can burn unprotected skin. Always wear gloves, suitable clothing, and eye protection.

CAUTION: Greater concentrations may cause damage to the finish.

Mix up the gutter cleaning solution and clean the gutters along one side of the house at a time. Mix the cleaner in a five-gallon pail and apply with a soft brush.

You can use an extendable gutter cleaning pole so you don’t have to climb a ladder. Take your time and brush slowly, permit the cleaner to stand for only a couple of minutes then wash it off.

Be sure to hose them off entirely and don’t let the cleaners run down the vinyl siding.

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