26 April 2024

What To Clean Solar Panels With

Your solar panels may not be performing efficiently due to dirt, dust, bird droppings, tree sap, or pollen that has accumulated on the surface. Cleaning them is a simple task that can significantly improve their performance.

In this article, we will discuss why it is important to clean solar panels, what can affect their performance, what you should avoid using to clean them, what you can use, how often to clean them, and the step-by-step process to ensure they are sparkling clean and functioning at their best.

Let's get started!

clean solar panels with

Why Clean Solar Panels?

Regular cleaning of solar panels is essential to ensure optimal efficiency and performance of your PV system.

Clean panels not only maximise energy production but also prolong the lifespan of the system, leading to long-term cost savings. It is vital to have easy access to rooftop solar panels for regular upkeep and cleaning, as this prevents dirt accumulation that can hinder the panels' ability to absorb sunlight efficiently. In essence, keeping your solar panels clean and well-maintained is crucial for maximising energy output and ensuring the longevity of your solar energy system.

why clean solar panels

What Can Affect Solar Panel Performance?

Several factors can significantly impact the performance of solar panels, including the accumulation of dirt, dust, bird droppings, tree sap, and pollen on the panel surface. These contaminants not only block sunlight from reaching the photovoltaic cells but also reduce the overall energy output of the system.

When dirt and debris settle on the surface of solar panels, they form a barrier that obstructs the sun's rays, preventing them from properly interacting with the panels' semiconductors. This barrier leads to decreased efficiency and lower energy production. Regular cleaning and maintenance are essential to ensure that solar panels operate at their maximum capacity. By keeping the panels clean, you can optimise their performance and extend their lifespan, ultimately maximising the benefits of solar energy.

Discover: How Much Does It Cost To Clean Solar Panels

what can affect solar panel performance

How Do Dirt And Dust Affect Solar Panels?

The accumulation of dirt and dust on solar panels creates a barrier that hinders sunlight absorption by the photovoltaic cells. This obstruction reduces the efficiency of the panels, leading to decreased energy production. Regular cleaning with water or mild solutions is necessary to maintain optimal performance.

When dirt and dust settle on the surface of the solar panels, they act as a shield, preventing sunlight from fully reaching the photovoltaic cells within the panels. As a result, the efficiency of the panels is compromised, causing a decline in their ability to convert sunlight into electricity. This reduction in energy production can directly impact the overall output of the solar system, affecting its effectiveness in powering homes or businesses.

How Do Bird Droppings Affect Solar Panels?

Bird droppings on solar panels can block sunlight and create uneven surfaces that disrupt the panel's performance. Cleaning bird droppings requires caution and proper safety precautions to prevent damage to the panels or injuries during the cleaning process.

Solar panels are designed to capture sunlight efficiently and convert it into electricity. When bird droppings accumulate on the panels, they form a barrier that reduces the amount of sunlight reaching the photovoltaic cells, thus diminishing energy production.

Regular maintenance is essential to ensure optimal panel performance. Removing bird droppings promptly is crucial to prevent long-term damage and maintain the efficiency of the solar system. The acidic nature of bird droppings can corrode the panel's surface over time, leading to degradation and decreased lifespan.

do bird droppings affect solar panels

How Do Tree Sap And Pollen Affect Solar Panels?

Tree sap and pollen can adhere to solar panels, creating a sticky residue that diminishes sunlight exposure. Specialised cleaning equipment or nanoparticle coatings may be required to effectively remove tree sap and pollen without damaging the panel surface.

When tree sap and pollen settle on solar panels, they form a barrier that hinders the panels' ability to absorb sunlight efficiently, potentially reducing energy production. This reduction in sunlight exposure can lead to a decrease in overall energy output, impacting the performance of the solar panel system.

Cleaning equipment designed specifically for removing tree sap and pollen may involve gentle brushes, non-abrasive cleaners, or even specially formulated solutions tailored to break down these substances effectively.

What Should You Not Use To Clean Solar Panels?

It is crucial to avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials when cleaning solar panels, as these substances can damage the panel surface and reduce their efficiency over time. Opting for gentle cleaning agents and soft tools ensures proper maintenance without causing harm to the panels.

Harsh chemicals such as bleach or ammonia can cause corrosion and discoloration on solar panels, leading to decreased energy production. Abrasive materials like scrub brushes or hard sponges can create scratches that interfere with sunlight absorption.

Using gentle cleaning agents, such as mild soap or vinegar, along with soft microfiber cloths or squeegees, is ideal for maintaining the cleanliness and functionality of solar panels over the long term. By employing these gentle methods, you not only protect the surface of the panels but also optimise their efficiency and prolong their lifespan.

Why Should You Avoid Using Harsh Chemicals?

Harsh chemicals can corrode the surface of solar panels and compromise their efficiency. Manufacturers recommend avoiding such chemicals in cleaning to prevent long-term damage and ensure the panels maintain their performance over time.

Chemicals containing abrasive components or strong acids can gradually eat away the protective layers of solar panels, leading to micro-scratches and surface degradation. Not only does this impact the aesthetics of the panels, but it also diminishes their ability to capture and convert sunlight into electricity. In addition, the use of harsh chemicals can void the warranty of the solar panels, leaving owners liable for any repair costs.

It is essential to adhere to manufacturer guidelines by opting for gentle cleaning agents, such as mild soapy water or specialised solar panel cleaners, to uphold the longevity and functionality of solar panels.

Why Should You Avoid Using Abrasive Materials?

Abrasive materials, such as rough brushes or scrubbers, can scratch the surface of solar panels and reduce their light absorption capabilities. Utilising soft tools like brush attachments or water-softening systems protects the panel surface from damage during cleaning.

When abrasive materials are used on solar panels, they can leave permanent marks and imperfections on the surface, hindering their efficiency in converting sunlight into electricity. The scratches caused by rough brushes or scrubbers create opportunities for dirt and grime to accumulate, further impacting the panel's ability to absorb light effectively.

To mitigate these risks, using gentle cleaning methods is crucial. Opting for brush attachments with soft bristles or employing water-softening systems can help maintain the integrity of the panel surface while ensuring optimal light absorption performance.

What Can You Use To Clean Solar Panels?

Several effective cleaning options are available for solar panels, including water, soap and water solutions, white vinegar solutions, and commercial solar panel cleaners. Choosing the appropriate cleaning solution based on the level of dirt and debris ensures thorough and safe panel maintenance.

  1. Soap and water solutions are slightly more robust and can tackle tougher grime without causing damage to the panels. They provide a good balance of effectiveness and safety for moderately dirty panels.
  2. For more stubborn stains and mineral deposits, white vinegar solutions offer a natural and non-toxic alternative. The acidic properties of vinegar can dissolve hard water spots and residue effectively.
  3. Commercial solar panel cleaners are specially formulated products designed to provide a thorough cleaning without leaving streaks or residues. They are ideal for heavy-duty cleaning tasks or for maintaining large solar panel arrays.


Water is a simple yet effective cleaning agent for solar panels, as it can help remove light dirt and debris without causing damage to the panel surface. Regular rinsing with water is recommended to maintain the cleanliness and efficiency of the panels.

One of the main benefits of using water for cleaning solar panels is its natural ability to gently dislodge accumulated dust and dirt, ensuring that the panels remain unharmed during the cleaning process. Unlike harsh chemical cleaners that can potentially damage the panel coatings, water offers a safe and environmentally friendly alternative for routine maintenance. The regular rinsing of solar panels with water not only enhances their overall performance but also contributes to prolonging their lifespan by preventing the build-up of grime and residue.

clean solar panels with water

Soap And Water Solution

A mild soap and water solution can be used to remove stubborn dirt and grime from solar panels without causing damage to the delicate photovoltaic cells. This gentle cleaning method helps maintain the efficiency and performance of the panels over time.

The non-abrasive nature of soap combined with water ensures that the surface of the solar panels is not scratched or damaged during the cleaning process. The simplicity and effectiveness of this method make it a convenient choice for regular maintenance routines, keeping the panel's surface clear of any debris that could hinder sunlight absorption.

clean solar panels with soap and water solution

White Vinegar Solution

A white vinegar solution is a natural and eco-friendly option for cleaning solar panels, as it helps dissolve dirt and residue without leaving streaks.

This simple solution not only helps to maintain the efficiency of solar panels by ensuring maximum light absorption but also reduces the need for harsh chemicals that can harm the environment. The streak-free cleaning provided by white vinegar ensures a sparkling finish that enhances the overall aesthetic of the panels.

After the cleaning process, the application of nanoparticle coatings acts as a protective layer, safeguarding the panel surface from environmental factors such as dust, rainwater, and UV exposure. These coatings can prolong the lifespan of solar panels and minimise maintenance requirements, ultimately increasing their durability and efficiency.

clean solar panels with white vinegar solution

Commercial Solar Panel Cleaners

Commercial solar panel cleaners are specially formulated products designed to effectively remove dirt and grime from panels without causing damage. Utilising robotic solutions or professional cleaning equipment ensures thorough cleaning while adhering to safety precautions.

One of the key advantages of utilising commercial solar panel cleaners is their ability to effectively clean panels without the risk of abrasion or damage. These specialised formulations are gentle yet powerful, allowing for the efficient removal of dirt and grime that may impact the efficiency of the panels.

By opting for robotic solutions or professional cleaning equipment, solar panel owners can ensure that their panels receive comprehensive maintenance that not only enhances performance but also prioritises safety. Robotic cleaners, in particular, offer a hands-free approach to cleaning, reducing the risks associated with manual cleaning methods.

commercial solar panel cleaners

How Often Should You Clean Solar Panels?

The frequency of cleaning solar panels depends on various factors, including the level of dirt accumulation, the local environment, and weather conditions. Generally, panels should be cleaned at least twice a year to ensure optimal performance and prevent dirt buildup that can hinder energy production.

It is crucial to consider the location of the solar panels when determining their cleaning frequency. Panels in dusty or industrial areas may require more frequent cleaning compared to those in cleaner environments. Regions with higher levels of rainfall might naturally rinse off some dirt, reducing the need for frequent cleaning.

Extreme temperatures can affect the efficiency of solar panels. Panels in areas with frequent temperature fluctuations may accumulate more dirt due to condensation and evaporation processes. Regular cleaning not only maintains their performance but also extends their lifespan by preventing corrosion and damage.

should you clean solar panels

What Factors Affect Cleaning Frequency?

The cleaning frequency of solar panels is influenced by factors such as energy output requirements, and the utilization of robotic solutions for cleaning. Regular assessment of these factors helps determine the optimal cleaning schedule for maximum efficiency.

When considering the energy needs of a solar panel system, it's crucial to account for factors like weather conditions and geographic location, as these can affect the rate at which panels accumulate dirt. Monitoring the level of dirt particle buildup on the panels is essential to avoid efficiency losses and maintain peak performance.

The adoption of robotic cleaning solutions can streamline the maintenance process and ensure thorough cleaning without damaging the panels. By evaluating these aspects regularly, solar panel owners can establish a proactive cleaning routine that optimizes energy production and prolongs the lifespan of their investment.

How To Clean Solar Panels?

Properly cleaning solar panels involves following a systematic process to ensure thorough maintenance and optimal performance. By checking for safety hazards, gathering supplies, rinsing, applying cleaning solutions, and drying with soft cloths or squeegees, you can effectively clean your panels without causing damage.

Before you begin the cleaning process, make sure to check for any potential safety hazards around your solar panels, such as slippery surfaces or electrical risks. Once you've confirmed the area is safe, gather the necessary supplies including a soft brush or cloth, a non-abrasive cleaning solution, a hose for rinsing, and a squeegee for drying.

After preparing your supplies, start by gently rinsing the panels with water to remove any loose debris or dirt. Avoid using high-pressure water, as this can potentially damage the panels. Next, apply the appropriate cleaning solution to a brush or cloth, and gently scrub the surface of the panels in a circular motion to remove stubborn dirt or residue.

Once the panels are clean, use a soft cloth or squeegee to carefully dry them, ensuring no streaks or watermarks are left behind. Regularly cleaning your solar panels following these steps not only helps maintain their efficiency but also extends their lifespan by preventing dirt buildup and potential damage.

how to clean solar panels

Step 1: Check For Safety Hazards

Before starting the cleaning process, ensure there are no safety hazards present that could pose risks during panel maintenance. Check for stable access points, secure footing, and implement necessary safety precautions like avoiding vibration to safeguard yourself and the panels.

It is crucial to thoroughly assess the surroundings to identify any potential risks that might compromise your safety or the integrity of the solar panels. This can include checking for loose components, electrical hazards, or any obstructions that could hinder the cleaning process.

Conducting a hazard assessment before starting any maintenance work is essential to prevent accidents and ensure a smooth cleaning operation.

Step 2: Gather Supplies

Collect all the necessary supplies and equipment for cleaning solar panels, including soft cloths, gentle cleaning solutions, water, and any safety gear required. Consider using water softening systems or specialised cleaning equipment to enhance the cleaning process while maintaining safety.

When cleaning solar panels, it is essential to have soft, non-abrasive cloths to avoid scratching the surface. Opt for gentle cleaning solutions that are specifically designed for solar panels to ensure effective cleaning without causing damage. Having a reliable source of water is crucial for rinsing off the cleaning solution and dirt.

  • Equip yourself with safety gear such as gloves, goggles, and non-slip footwear to protect yourself during the cleaning process.
  • Consider investing in water-softening systems to prevent mineral buildup on the panels and optimise their efficiency over time.

Step 3: Rinse With Water

Begin the cleaning process by rinsing the solar panels with clean water to remove loose dirt and debris. A gentle stream of water helps clear the surface without causing damage, preparing the panels for further cleaning steps.

It may seem like a simple step, but this initial rinsing is crucial in ensuring an effective cleaning process for your solar panels. By gently rinsing off the dirt and debris, you create a clean canvas for the next cleaning stages to be more thorough.

Think of it as laying the foundation for a sturdy building; a clean surface sets the stage for a more detailed and efficient deep clean. This step not only enhances the effectiveness of the cleaning process but also helps in maintaining the longevity and efficiency of your solar panels.

rinse with water

Step 4: Apply Cleaning Solution

After rinsing, apply a suitable cleaning solution, such as a soap and water mix or a white vinegar solution, to the solar panels. Gently scrub the panels using soft cloths or brushes to remove stubborn dirt and grime while maintaining the panel surface integrity.

These cleaning solutions effectively break down dirt and residue accumulated on the panels, ensuring they operate at maximum efficiency. Soap and water mix is gentle yet powerful, providing a deep clean without harsh chemicals. Alternatively, the white vinegar solution offers a natural and eco-friendly approach, cutting through grease and grime.

When scrubbing, use soft cloths or brushes to avoid scratching the delicate surface of the panels. Gentle circular motions help dislodge dirt without causing damage. Regular cleaning maintenance using these methods is essential for optimal solar panel performance.

apply cleaning solution to solar panel

Step 5: Rinse With Water Again

Once the cleaning solution has been applied and dirt removed, rinse the solar panels again with clean water. This final rinse step helps eliminate any residual cleaning solution or debris, ensuring the panels are left clean and free of contaminants.

Rinsing the solar panels after cleaning not only removes any leftover cleaning agents but also flushes away tiny dirt particles that may have been dislodged during the cleaning process.

By performing this rinse, you are essentially giving your solar panels a fresh start, allowing them to operate at their peak efficiency and ensuring maximum sunlight absorption for optimal energy production.

Step 6: Dry With Soft Cloth Or Squeegee

After rinsing, dry the solar panels using a soft cloth or squeegee to remove excess water and prevent streaking. Gently pat the panels dry to maintain their cleanliness and clarity, ensuring no water spots are left behind.

Thoroughly drying the solar panels is crucial in the final step of the cleaning process. By using a soft cloth or squeegee, any remaining water droplets are removed, leaving the panels spotless and streak-free. This meticulous drying method not only enhances the visual appeal of the panels but also helps in preserving their efficiency over time. Properly dried panels are less prone to dust accumulation and water residue, ensuring a longer lifespan for your solar energy system. So, take your time and ensure that each panel is dried comprehensively for optimal results.

dry with soft cloth or squeegee
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