How to Clean Solar Panels

How to Clean Solar Panels

First, let’s start with some good news. You may not need to clean your solar panels! If you live in areas with snow or very hard rains, then there is a good chance that nature is cleaning them for you.

If you are in a drier dustier region… then you probably do need to clean your solar panels. But, I have a bit of good news for you too… you are likely making more off your solar panels!

This article walks you through properly cleaning your solar panels. The “Do’s”, the “Don’ts” and the “Good to Knows”.

How to Clean your Solar Panels

I can’t express this more. If you are wondering how to clean your solar panels, your key concerns are safety and warranty.

The goal of cleaning your solar panels is likely to get a better bang for your buck out of your investment. But remember! You aren’t going to care about that bang for your buck if you hurt yourself or you damage your panels.

Damaging your panels will do the exact opposite of your intention. So read your manufacturer’s instructions, and don’t stand on your panels. 

Also, make sure you are safe! Avoid that top rung of the ladder or reaching out sideways, and always use a ladder holder.

Here are some tactics to avoid both these worst-case scenarios.

Related Articles:

How Often to Clean your Solar Panels


Clean Solar Panels on Roof (Birdseye)

The Right Tools for the Job

People often think there is some fancy way to clean solar panels. It’s honestly not that different from cleaning your windows. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A safe ladder
  • A garden hose and sprayer attachment
  • Rags, a sponge, or a soft brush
  • An extension pole
  • A bucket
  • Gloves
  • Dish soap
  • A squeegee
Ladder for Cleaning Solar Panels
Rags for Cleaning Solar Panels
Bucket for Cleaning Solar Panels

What to clean solar panels with?

I recommend keeping it simple, not just because it’s easy for your wallet, but also because it’s likely best for your panels.

You can usually just use water, but if you are thinking of cleaning your panels with specific solutions, then take a look below to find out what’s best for you.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on cleaning your panels:

Step 1: Gather Your Tools

Once you get on that roof you are not going to want to come down for something you forgot. Trust me, getting your tools prepped ahead of time will decrease your frustrations and risks with this job.

Also, if you are going to be climbing a ladder or working on a ladder make sure you have booked a trusty ladder holder in advance.

Step 2: Turn of Your System

For the safety of you and your panels, it’s best to flip the switch while you do this job. You can usually do this in your electrical box, on your inverters, or you may have an external grid shut off.

Step 3: Give Them a Rinse

Give the panels a light rinse. You can harm panels with high-pressure water, so don’t use a pressure washer. Think of it this way. Panels are designed to withstand hard rains. Imagine your hose is a hard rain.

Also, try to stay away from electrical wiring and systems. Remember, only the parts that absorb the sun need cleaning.

Truthfully, this is all you might have to do depending on how dirty your panels are. If this gets most of the dust off, congratulations! You’re done early… go enjoy the sun!

Using soap can actually cause more harm than good if your panels are already decently clean because it can leave a residue and attract dust.

Step 4: The Light Scrub

If your panels still look dirty after a rinse, then mix a bit of dish soap and some water into a bucket. Take your rags, sponge, or soft brush and give the solar panels a light scrub. 

If you are having trouble reaching dirty spots safely, I usually wrap my soaped rag around a pole or broom for a little extra reach.

If you are finding that there are dirty spots that just won’t come off, then it might be time to get a pro in. Honestly, they are worth it so you don’t risk damaging your panels and yourself.

Step 5: The Second Rinse

Rinse your solar panels before they have dried. You are already a pro at this part, just follow Step 3 again. Rinse and repeat 🙂

Give this one a really good rinse though. Soap can leave a leftover residue or attract dirt. So if you don’t do a really thorough rinse, then you might end up back at Step 1 in a couple of weeks.

Then use a squeegee or a dry soft cloth on the panels to prevent watermarks from reflecting away any of your hard work. If you see a haziness or streaking then repeat the rinse and dry section for problem areas.

Step 6: Power On!

Flip back on your solar panels. If you have an energy monitor or a solar panel app, then give that a peak just to make sure everything is working as it should.

Step 7: Give yourself a high five. Job well done!

How to clean your solar panels from the ground

If you are worried about falling off a roof, then always keep in mind that safety is always more important than the minor extra gains in energy that you will get from a slightly dirty panel.

A light spray with your hose from the ground might be enough to clean your panels enough. Just put on a hose setting that mimics a hard rain and try to clean your panels like nature would. Remember, these panels are meant to be outside, so they can take conditions similar to what nature would normally throw at them.

However, you can also buy a specialty cleaning brush that isn’t too expensive. These brushes are telescopic, have bristles made with appropriate textures, and feed water directly through the brush.

Who can clean solar panels?

Cleaning solar panels is a pretty easy job if you have an easy-to-reach roof. You can definitely clean your own solar panels. Again, your only concern is the safety of yourself and your panels.

Who should clean solar panels?

I would generally recommend cleaning your own solar panels a majority of the time. Generally it’s pretty easy, so you may as well save yourself a penny or two.

But occasionally, you may want to hire a professional under a few key scenarios…

When to get your panels professionally cleaned

This is dependent on you, but I would consider professional cleaning in three situations:

  1. There is a particularly dirty spot on your panels
  2.  You have a scary dangerous roof with very little room to work
  3. You don’t want to do it and have money to burn (this isn’t me… congratulations if it’s you!)
Typically, solar panel cleaning costs between $150 to $350 depending on the amount of panels you have.

2. The DON'Ts of Cleaning your Solar Panels

Now here are the key don’ts for how to clean your solar panels. Remember, we are trying to easily increase efficiency. But you won’t care about that if you get hurt or damage your panels!

Can you clean solar panels with a pressure washer?

“How to clean solar panels with a pressure washer?” you ask?… Don’t!

Pressure washers may damage your panels by causing microfractures in your panels. Even worse, this could void your warranty as many manufacturers’ instructions specifically state not to do this!

Don’t use a pressure washer!

Don't use abrasive or rough materials

Your panels can get little scratches in them, or micro-fractures. This can cause a decrease in their efficiency over time.

Stay away from rough cleaning brushes, rags, and sponges. Make sure your brushes, rags, and sponges don’t have any leftover dirt and debris from other jobs you did.

Also, stay away from cleaners with abrasive scrubbing textures added to them. Things like solid powder cleaners or soaps with added grit.

3. What's Best to Clean Solar Panels?

Pros, like premier solar cleaning, use deionized water. Deionized water is water with positive or negative molecules removed. These ions appear as dissolved mineral salts, which can partially reduce the efficiency of your panels.

You can get deionized water at lots of your local hardware stores or on Amazon.

What chemicals to clean solar panels with?

Most solar panel instructions say to use water without detergents. Typically, most soaps contain detergents. 

Though cleaning without soaps seems counterintuitive, solar panel manufacturers recommend against this because the soaps leave behind streaks, which will reflect some of the sun reaching your panels. So you are best off just using water if you can.

What soap to clean solar panels with?

If your panels are particularly dirty and water just isn’t doing it, then you could try a soap. Again, let me remind you that the pros typically don’t use soap.

If you feel like you really need that soap though, try a small amount of dish soap (1/2 teaspoon per 2 cups water) and just apply it to the problem areas. Make sure to thoroughly rinse your panels afterward.

Can you clean solar panels with Windex?

Though you can clean solar panels with Windex, it’s best to clean solar panels with just water, or soapy water. Stay away from harder chemicals.

Can you clean solar panels with tap water?

Yes! If you have particularly hard water though, you may want to pick up some deionized water from your local hardware store, or Amazon.

Can you clean solar panels with vinegar?

Some folks create a solution of 1/8 cup vinegar to 1 cup water. If you really feel like your panels are dirty, you can also add 1/2 teaspoon of dish soap to this mix.

But generally, if you can stick to just water, I recommend just using water to prevent streaking.

How to clean solar panels without water?

What’s the best way to clean solar panels without water? You can lightly use a vacuum or a brush. Try not to scrape any big-sized dirt or debris across your panels.

Additional Resources

Frequently asked questions on solar panels

Rain will clean solar panels!

If you are lucky enough to live in an area with hard occasional rains, then there is a good chance that you may never have to clean your panels. To find out if this is you, just wait until there is a rain. Then pop outside and see how clean your panels look.

There are a few options on the market for solar panel cleaning robots. I truthfully have never used an automatic solar cleaner though, and therefore cannot in good conscience recommend one.

Yes. Though it is typically best to do it early in the day before it gets hot, but while there is enough light to see the dust. Early morning cleaning is best, because parts of the panels can get hot to the touch and you won’t miss out on some of the best solar production by turning off your panels mid-day.

Garden light solar panels are not that different from normal solar panels. Just get some minorly soapy water and give them a quick wipe with a rag. If you use too much soap, then give them a quick rinse with some clean water.

You usually only need to clean your solar panels once or twice per year… if at all.

But it’s going to be dependent on your area. If you haven’t had a good rain for a while, and you see dust build up then it’s probably a good time to give them a clean.

Related Articles:

How Often to Clean your Solar Panels

Cleaning solar on your RV roof is certainly easier than on a home roof!

Just get some minorly soapy water and give them a quick wipe with a rag or a squeegee at a gas station. Just make sure the squeegee water is relatively clean.

If you use too much soap, then give them a quick rinse with some clean water. Remember to always read the manufacturing and maintenance instructions for your solar panels.

Renogy has a good maintenance guide specific to RV and van mounted solar. Check it out here:

Related Articles:

RV Solar Calculator: How Many Panels Does my RV Need?

Just follow the directions above in this article. Dust is the most common thing that you will be cleaning off your solar panels.

A mildly soapy bucket of water, or just some water should get those panels shined up in no time.

My recommendation… don’t do it! It’s not worth the risk to yourself and your panels.

Shoulder months perform decently, but most money and power you make is during the summer months.

My solar setup is interesting in that I have a rack facing true south and a rack facing east/west. This gives me the opportunity to compare my production between these pitches.

Snow always melt off the south rack first then the east/west rack. It usually only takes a couple extra days for these panels to clear if I am getting sun I would have wanted to capture.

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