How to Clean Solar Panels

Lailine Jones
by Lailine Jones
3 Materials
1 Hour

Debris build-up can quickly become an issue when dealing with solar panels. Leaves, dust, and bird droppings can all partially block sunlight, reducing how energy efficient the panels are. And while cleaning a solar panel is relatively easy, it’s still important to be careful in order to prevent damaging the panels. Here’s how you can safely clean them.

Before you get started, take a quick look at the manual and other documentation that was shipped with your solar panels. You’re looking for any specific recommendations or warnings from the manufacturer regarding the cleaning process.

You may find that your brand new RV solar kit — like one of these — was coated with a hydrophobic layer that can be damaged by cleaning products, for example.

Step #2 - Rinse the panels with water

Using a hose or a bucket, rinse the panels off with water to clear out the excess dirt. Don’t use a high-pressure washer; the force can damage the panel. If you’re working on a rooftop, make sure you have proper safety equipment and are wearing footwear that provides plenty of grip.

Step #3 - Wash the panels with soapy water

Cover the panels in soapy water. You’ll want to do this early in the morning or late in the day, as solar panels can get quite hot while the sun is up. The heat can not only make it harder for you to scrub the panels up close, but it can also cause the water to evaporate too quickly. That will leave a thin film of soap covering your panels, which can be quite annoying to clean.

Step #4 - Scrub the panels

Use a soft scrub to remove any leftover grime from the panels. It’s also important to stick to soft materials when scrubbing, as scratches can reduce how efficient the panel is. You can use a long-handled squeegee or a broom wrapped in a soft cloth to reach the more distant corners of your solar panels.

Step #5 - Rinse off the panels

Again, you can use a hose or a bucket here. Thoroughly rinse off the panels to remove any leftover soap and grime. Depending on how grimy the panels were, you might need to repeat steps 3 and 4 a few times before the panels are clean.  

If you’re having a hard time getting grime to come off the panels — old bird droppings can be quite annoying to scrub off — you can try using a sharp plastic object to scrape it clean. Most solar panels have a glass surface, and plastic won’t scratch the glass. Just don’t apply too much pressure, as that can damage the panel. And of course, metal tools should be avoided.

Step #5 - Remove excess water

The final step is to dry off the solar panels using a squeegee. Removing this excess is important, as any leftover dirt in the water will cling to the panel once it dries off, and it’s a good way to ensure there’s no soap left as well. And if you want to reduce how often you have to wash your solar panels, changing their location and inclination might help, as that will help the rain take care of some of the cleaning for you.

Suggested materials:
  • Soapy water   (Kitchen)
  • Scrub   (Kitchen)
  • Hose/Water   (Kitchen)
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