Why You Need To Clean Solar panels (+ how To Clean)

Maintenance is a very vital component of well-functioning solar panels. And although it might not seem like a very tough task to keep your solar panels clean;

There is a consideration for what chemicals to use to have your solar panel absolutely spotless and working efficiently.

Here are some of the key points that I will be covering, plus some extra details that you might find interesting to learn about;

  • Do solar panels need to be cleaned?
  • Benefits of cleaning solar panels.
  • What chemicals to use?
  • What do solar panels have to offer for the future?

Solar panels’ efficiency relies upon their maintenance. So let’s look at how you should clean your solar panels.

Cleaning Solar Panels
Cleaning Solar Panels

Do Solar Panels Need to be Cleaned?

Solar panels need to be cleaned to clear the pollen, dust, sea salt, and pollution in the air as it ends up on your solar panels.

And as a solar owner, you already know that anything that stands between your solar panels and the sun will reduce the power your system generates.

However, whether you should do something about it is determined by the amount of electricity you are wasting. After all, professional cleaning services cost money.

In the case of typical dirt build-up on solar panels, the reduction in production is so tiny that it’s hardly ever worth acting.

A light and brief rain shower will suffice to remove the filth from your panels, allowing them to perform to their maximum potential with minimal effort and expense.


And, while dust causes problems on a regular basis, tests conducted by Ontario Solar Installers show that a small amount of dust has no effect because light can still get through.

They advise allowing nature to take its course, as rain will take care of most of the solar panel cleaning.

But apart from dust, there are other things that might reduce the power output of your solar panels, which include bird droppings as well as tree leaves.

See also: Clean Solar Panels (When, Where, How)

Bird Droppings

Bird droppings on your solar panels are even more damaging than a layer of dust. And if you have a lot of trees nearby, especially deciduous trees, they will not only drop leaves on your roof but will also attract birds.

Both of these factors contribute to the accumulation of dirt on solar panels over time, making it even more vital to use solar panel cleaning services or efforts on a regular basis.

Benefits of cleaning solar panels

Clean solar panels offer tremendous benefits and while there are benefits it would be reasonable to assume that solar panels can lose 15-25% of their efficiency if not cleaned properly. 

And in other cases, most solar manufacturers include solar cleaning as a condition in their warranty. If your solar panel is broken and no longer functional, the warranty may not cover it.

This applies to the scenarios where you can’t verify to the manufacturers that you’ve been maintaining your solar panels properly.

Cleaning solar panels are similar to cleaning a window. It is not very time-consuming. And in return, you may notice substantial improvements in overall efficiency as well as significant cost reductions in your electricity bills.

Cleaning and Maintenance

One thing that we learned during the coronavirus pandemic was that washing our hands regularly was our best defense.

While unclean solar panels should be washed on a regular basis to avoid decreased output and efficiency, soap might not be the solution.

Unlike a pure alcohol cleaner, soap leaves a residue when cleaning which reduces the light intake – plus, it can act as a magnet and attract dust.


When you use detergents to clean your solar panels, what happens is that the abrasive chemicals sometimes streak the glass of the panel or increase the risk of scratching the glass on the solar panel.

The scratches on the panel cast shadows on the solar cell which then directly affects the efficiency of the solar panel, and the panel fails to produce as much energy as it used to.

How about using just a hose to remove off any impurity? Well, as easy and safe of a task it may sound, believe me, it is not.

Using a hose to clean any impurity off the panels has its consequences, since the water creates a white film on the glass of the panel, as the minerals present in the water accumulate on the surface of the glass.

This white film reduces the maximum penetration of sunlight into the solar panel and thus results in a low power supply being generated by the solar panel.

Can you use glass cleaners on solar panels?

Yes, you can use glass cleaners on solar panels but not too much glass cleaner for safety and environmental reasons, and especially if you have a lot of panels, that might take you some time to clean.

Most importantly when using glass cleaners is to remove the residue of soap and chemicals with towels, paper, and water.

Remember to leave them dry before the wind sends dust particles towards them.

Solar panels producing clean energy on a roof of a residential house with cloud reflections

What’s the best way to clean solar panels?

So, then you must be wondering what’s the best way to clean solar panels if I can’t use water, can’t use detergents, and can’t use glass cleaners that contain harsh chemicals which may be bad for the solar panels

Because each solar panel is different, it is advised that you read the manufacturer’s recommendations before cleaning them; some panels are sensitive to specific chemicals, while others may have fragile components that you should be careful of.

Clean water and a little scrubbing with a coarse cloth wrapped sponge or a soft brush should remove the most persistent filth from good quality solar panel glass.

Plastic scourers can be utilized as well when there are difficult to remove marks.

Distilled Water

The best way to clean your solar panels is with distilled/deionized water. That is water that has had the impurities removed.

This is best used after using a gentle cleaning product that is not likely to damage any electrical items.

If your solar panels a within close reach and they are only slightly dirty, then wash the panels with a mild soap solution and rinse with distilled water. If you’re against using chemicals – then vinegar can also do the trick.

This 7-20 foot squeegee with a microfibre cloth is the best on the market for a low price;

EVERSPROUT 7-to-20 Foot Swivel Squeegee and Microfiber Window Scrubber (25 Foot Reach) | 2-in-1 Window & Glass Cleaning Combo with Light-Weight, Aluminum Extension Pole | Includes 10-inch Blades

Click the image to see more details on Amazon.

For a larger solar panel system that is more of a stretch to reach, you’ll need something a bit more substantial.

To keep those solar panels effective for 25 years, ideally, you’ll clean them every quarter – depending on the dust and dirt pollution in your area.

To properly clean your solar panels, you’ll need a brush that can spray water – otherwise, you could be rubbing bird muck off for 30 minutes till you get the job done.

This following brush can be used twice a year for a deep clean, while you use the one above for keeping it neat.

GHL 10m Telescopic Solar Panel Cleaning Brushes Rod,Cleaner Water Fed Pole Kit for Cleaning Outer Window Glass, Tile Walls,Glass Curtain Wall,Solar Panel Surface (36FT-7.6FT)

Click the image to see more details on Amazon.


Though solar panels are surely cost-effective, they come with a huge responsibility. A responsibility to keep them clean in order to generate the maximum output.

And although it might not sound like a very tough job to keep your solar panels clean, it can become one if hard chemicals are used.

Here is a ready-made solution for cleaning your solar panels – check with your PV manufacturer first if you’re in doubt.

Glass Gleam Solar - Solar Panel Cleaner - Highly Concentrated - 1 Gallon Makes 500 Gallons of RTU Product (1 Gallon)

Click the image to see more details on Amazon.

To conclude, glass cleaners can be used to clean solar panels occasionally as long as they do not contain harsh chemicals which may damage the panels.

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Elliot has 20+ years of experience in renewable technology, from conservation to efficient living. His passion is to help others achieve independent off-grid living.

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