Cleaning Solar Panels: Tips for Maintaining Your System

As solar panels continue to grow in popularity, it’s crucial for owners to understand the importance of proper maintenance and cleaning. Over time, dust, dirt, and other debris can accumulate on solar panels and reduce efficiency. Regularly cleaning your solar panels can extend the lifespan of your system and ensure it’s working at full capacity. Below we’ll discuss how to clean solar panels yourself, when to call an expert, and popular methods for maintaining solar systems.

A man washing solar panels on a roof

Location and panel angle can affect how often you need to clean your solar panels. Where you live can impact the amount of dirt, debris, and pollutants that build up on your panels. For example, if you live in an urban or dusty area, dirt may build up easier on your panels, and you may need to clean your panels more regularly.

Panel angle can affect how water and debris run off the panel’s surface. If the angle is too flat, debris may not slide off, and water may pool on the surface. This can lead to more build-up that requires frequent cleaning. You can speak with your solar installer to discuss how often you should clean your panels based on where you live.

Raindrops on solar panels

Work with a Professional for Complex Cleanings

Working with a professional for complex solar panel cleanings is recommended because these cleanings may require specialized tools, equipment, and expertise that a homeowner may not have. Difficult cleanings may include hard-to-reach areas, heavily soiled panels, or addressing specific issues that require professional attention.

Professional cleaners have experience working with various solar systems that can adequately assess the condition of your panels to determine the best course of action. They also have the necessary equipment, such as high-pressure washers or specialized cleaning solutions, to safely and effectively clean your panels without causing damage.

Working with a professional can also help prevent accidents or injuries when attempting to clean solar panels on your own. Climbing on a roof or reaching high panels can be dangerous, and professional cleaners have the proper training and safety equipment to prevent accidents.

Safety Guidelines

If you’re going to wash your solar panels yourself, there are a few things to know to keep yourself and your panels safe. Here’s how to clean solar panels safely.

  • Turn off your system. Turn off the circuit breaker or switch that controls your system before you begin cleaning to avoid electrical hazards.
  • Wear safe clothing. Wear non-slip shoes and avoid wearing loose clothing that may get caught on the panels.
  • Use a sturdy ladder. Use a sturdy ladder when climbing onto your roof. Have someone hold the base for added stability.
  • Avoid harsh cleaning chemicals. Use a soft brush and avoid using strong chemicals or abrasive materials that can damage panels.
  • Check for damage. Check for damage before washing solar panels. Don’t try to clean damaged or cracked panels.
Washing solar panels
Drying off solar panels with a rag

Solar Panel Cleaning Tips

While regular cleaning is important, using the right tools and techniques is essential to avoid damaging your panels. Here are some tips for cleaning your panels efficiently.

  • Use a Soft Brush to Remove Dirt and Debris. A soft brush is a gentle, non-abrasive way to dislodge any loose dirt or debris on your solar panels. It can effectively remove dirt, dust, and debris without scratching or damaging the panels.
  • Spray Your Panels with a Garden Hose. Gently spray your panels with your hose to remove dust and dirt. The water can help remove any remaining dirt and debris you may not have dislodged with a brush alone.
  • Gently Scrub Tough Areas with a Soft Brush. If any stubborn dirt remains, you can use your soft brush to scrub it off gently. While using a garden hose can remove most of the loose debris, some areas may require a bit more elbow grease to fully clean.
  • Check the Cleaning Impact by Monitoring Solar Output. After cleaning your solar panels, monitor their output to determine whether the washing impacted their performance. If the production has increased, it’s a good indication that the cleaning successfully removed any dirt or debris hindering the panel’s performance.

DIY Solar Panel Cleaning

You can make your own solution for cleaning solar panels by mixing a quarter cup of mild detergent, such as dish soap or laundry detergent, with every gallon of water. Make sure to use a mild detergent to avoid damaging the panels. Mix the solution in a bucket and use a soft sponge or gentle brush to apply it to the panels. After applying the solution, rinse the panels thoroughly with a garden hose to remove any residue.

A home with solar panels

Bird Droppings

Bird droppings can significantly reduce your solar panels’ performance, even more than dirt build-up. They create shade over a panel’s surface, blocking sunlight from reaching the cells and reducing efficiency. Bird droppings are also acidic and can cause corrosion and damage your panels permanently. Because of this, it’s important to clean bird droppings off your solar panels as soon as possible to ensure optimal performance and prolong your system’s lifespan.

Leaves on solar panels

When Should I Contact a Cleaning Expert?

You can contact an expert anytime if you don’t feel comfortable cleaning your panels yourself. However, here are some times when contacting an expert is best.

  • Heavy soiling. Properly washing solar panels may be difficult if they’re heavily soiled with dirt, dust, or other debris. Professional cleaners have the proper equipment and experience to ensure a thorough cleaning.
  • Hard-to-reach areas. If your panels are located on a high or steep-sloped roof, it may be dangerous to clean them yourself. Professional cleaners have the necessary equipment and safety measures to safely access and clean these areas.
  • Damaged system. If you notice damage to your system, such as cracked panels, broken wiring, or other electrical issues, you should contact a professional to inspect and address the issue. Cleaning or repairing the system yourself can be dangerous or cause further damage.

Tips for Keeping Solar Panels Efficient

Cleaning your solar panels is a great way to keep your home solar system working efficiently. However, there are some additional ways to maintain your solar panels and ensure they work efficiently. These include:

  • Use a Special Coating. A special coating made from hydrophobic materials can prevent dirt and other debris from sticking to solar panels. This coating can also protect the panels from damage caused by harsh weather conditions.
  • Use a Dirt-Measuring Device. Dirt-measuring devices use sensors to detect the amount of dirt build-up and send a signal to the owner when it’s time to clean their solar panels. Using one of these devices ensures that panels are cleaned regularly to maintain maximum efficiency.
Multiple homes with solar panels

There are several methods for cleaning solar panels besides manual cleaning with a brush. Some involve specialized tools or equipment, while others use common household items. Here are some different solar panel cleaning methods you may be able to try.


Water is the most common way to clean solar panels. As mentioned above, you can use a garden hose to remove most dirt and debris from your panels. For more challenging spots, some professional cleaners use power wash systems. These systems use a high-pressure water spray to remove tough dirt, bird droppings, and other stubborn stains that won’t come off with a soft brush or garden hose.


Vibration is a relatively new cleaning method and doesn’t involve water. A motor is attached to the back of a solar panel, creating tiny shockwaves to dislodge dirt. This method is great for removing both light and heavy debris, such as bird droppings.

Robotic Cleaners

Robotic cleaners can automatically remove dirt and debris from solar panels. These cleaners use soft brushes or water jets to clean the panels without damaging them. You can program robotic cleaners to clean at regular intervals, reducing the need to clean solar panels manually.