If you own a home that uses solar power, you might wonder how often you need to clean the solar panels to ensure they stay at maximum power. For the most part, thankfully, solar panels won’t need to be cleaned because rain and snowfall will wash away the dust that settles on them. If you live in a dry, dusty area where there is little rain or snow or you have a problem with bird droppings or trees that are near your home, it might not be a bad idea to manually clean the solar panels occasionally.

The best way to have your solar panels cleaned is to hire a professional to clean them for you and in many instances, the solar company that did your install will offer yearly maintenance and will make sure the panels are clean at that time. If you plan to clean the panels on your own, you’ll be happy to know that you probably already have the necessary cleaning supplies inside your home already.


What to Use to Clean Solar Panels

In general, you’re going to need a mop bucket, a water hose with water that has been purified to remove the harsh minerals and a non-abrasive sponge along with non-abrasive soap such as dish detergent. Never use a pressure washer or a high-pressure nozzle on the water hose when you clean solar panels as the pressure can cause damage to the panels.

It’s also a good idea to wear a good pair of nitrile gloves to keep the soap away from your hands to lessen the risk of irritation and also to help give you a better grip on the ladder when climbing up or down if your panels are on the roof and not ground mounted. (source: BulkNitrileGloves.com)


Best Time of Day to Clean Solar Panels

Since solar panels absorb the rays from the sun, it is best to clean them early in the morning or late in the evening when they won’t be very hot.


System Power

Before you climb to the roof to start cleaning, be sure to shut your system down to prevent shock.

Solar panels will usually maintain a high level of power even with a little dust on them. Panels that are covered in dust, bird droppings and other debris that can coat them with a film can reduce efficiency anywhere from 5% to 25% depending on how much the grime blocks the sun. a regular maintenance schedule for cleaning and overall maintenance will help ensure your system operates with maximum efficiency for many years to come.

A word of advice: If you are not experienced with climbing on a roof, or you have a fear of heights, it is best to leave the cleaning to the pros.


Tom Masters (Independent Journalist)