How to clean solar panels on solar lights

In today’s environmentally conscious world, solar lights have become a popular and sustainable choice for outdoor illumination. However, over time, these sun-powered marvels may accumulate dirt and grime, impacting their efficiency.

The question arises: how to clean solar lights effectively?

In this guide, we will explore various methods and techniques to maintain the cleanliness and optimal performance of your solar lights. From simple steps on how to tackle dirt to ensuring a clean and unobstructed surface, let’s delve into the essential practices that will keep your solar-powered lamps shining bright.

How to Clean Solar Lights

Tools you need to clean solar panels

To clean solar panels effectively, you’ll need a set of essential tools. These instruments are carefully chosen to ensure a thorough cleaning process that restores the panels to optimal efficiency. Here are the tools you’ll require:


  • Purpose: Used for gently sanding away accumulated dirt and grime on the surface of the solar panel.
  • Importance: Provides a means to eliminate stubborn deposits, enhancing the overall cleanliness of the panels.


  • Purpose: Employed for achieving an impeccable finish by wiping down the solar cell with an alcohol solution.
  • Importance: Ensures a spotless surface, free from any residual contaminants, promoting better solar absorption.

Soft Brush (e.g., Toothbrush):

  • Purpose: Ideal for scrubbing away long-standing and hard-to-remove dirt that might be challenging for a regular washcloth.
  • Importance: The soft bristles prevent damage to the solar panel while effectively removing persistent debris.


  • Purpose: Applied to protect the solar cell against scratches during the sanding process.
  • Importance: Safeguards the panel’s surface integrity, ensuring that the cleaning procedure doesn’t inadvertently cause damage.

Piece of Cardboard:

  • Purpose: Provides an additional layer of protection when applying the clear coat after cleaning.
  • Importance: Acts as a barrier, preventing any potential damage to the solar panel during the application of the protective clear coat.

Washcloth or Kitchen Sponge:

  • Purpose: Used for wiping away surface dirt that easily comes off after sanding and brushing.
  • Importance: Offers a resourceful and effective means of cleaning, utilizing common household items for an eco-friendly approach.

Detergent (Mixed with Water):

  • Purpose: Serves as the cleaning solution for wiping and brushing the solar panels.
  • Importance: The detergent, when mixed with water, provides a gentle yet effective cleaning solution without causing damage. Caution is taken not to use excessive detergent.


  • Purpose: Applied to allow the solar panels on garden lights to shine brightly.
  • Importance: Enhances the visual appeal and performance of the solar panels by providing a protective and reflective layer.

Dry Towels:

  • Purpose: Used to dry off the solar panels after cleaning, imparting an extra shine.
  • Importance: Ensures that the panels are left in a pristine state, free from water spots or streaks, contributing to their overall efficiency.

Tools you need to clean solar panels

How to clean solar panels on solar lights

1. Regularly prune surrounding bushes

To ensure that your solar panels receive full sun exposure, it is imperative to consistently prune any plant, tree, or shrub that might cast shadows during specific periods of the day. Given that your lights depend on sunlight, this pruning task must be performed regularly.

The frequency of pruning should be tailored to the growth rate of the surrounding trees and bushes, sometimes necessitating pruning as frequently as once per month. This proactive approach guarantees uninterrupted sunlight access for your solar panels, thus maintaining the efficiency of your lighting system.

2. Proceed to clean all solar panels

This crucial step is integral to maintaining solar lights and significantly impacts their overall functionality. When solar panels accumulate a layer of dust or debris, they are unable to fully charge the battery during daylight hours. This presents a dual challenge:

  • Firstly, the outdoor lights won’t stay illuminated for as long after dark due to insufficient stored energy in the battery.
  • Secondly, this condition may lead to a shortened lifespan for the battery.

To address this, it is recommended to clean your solar outdoor lights using a solution of soapy water and a soft cloth. For more stubborn debris like mud, a soft-bristled brush may be necessary. Optimal cleaning times are early or late in the day to avoid hot fixtures.

For most homeowners, a monthly cleaning schedule ensures the maximum efficiency of solar panels. However, if you reside in an especially dusty area, more frequent cleaning may be required. This proactive maintenance routine not only extends the operational duration of your outdoor lights but also contributes to the prolonged life of the battery.

3. Clean the globes & fixtures

While employing the soapy water, soft cloth, and scrub brush, seize the chance to meticulously remove any accumulated mud, dirt, dust, or debris from the globes and fixtures. This thorough cleaning method serves to prolong the lifespan of your landscape lights by preserving the cleanliness of metal or plastic components.

Furthermore, the cleaning of glass or plastic globes holds significant importance in upkeeping the visual allure of your lights. By preventing the buildup of dirt and dust, this practice ensures unhindered and proper illumination, contributing to the overall aesthetic appeal and functionality of your outdoor lighting setup.

How to clean solar panels on solar lights

4. Check globes & fixtures for damage

As you clean your globes and fixtures, take a moment to inspect them for any signs of damage, such as cracked globes, fractured plastic, or dented metal components. In the event of damage, you might have the option to order and replace the specific impaired parts.

However, if the damage is extensive and cannot be addressed by individual part replacement, you may need to consider replacing the entire fixture for optimal performance and aesthetics. Regular inspections and timely replacements ensure the continued functionality and visual integrity of your lighting fixtures.

5. Check the solar panels for corrosion

If you notice that your batteries are not charging adequately or your solar outdoor lights are not operating correctly, the culprit may be corrosion on the batteries. To address this issue, you may need tools to disassemble your fixtures and access the battery housing.

Once you’ve exposed the batteries, check for any white dust on them or the housing, which indicates light corrosion. This can typically be removed with a soft-bristle brush.

However, if the corrosion proves more stubborn, you may need to use fine-grit sandpaper for effective removal. In cases where the batteries are too extensively corroded for easy cleaning, it’s advisable to replace them to restore the proper functioning of your solar lights.

6. If necessary, replace the solar panel with a new one

Solar landscape lighting batteries typically last between one to three years, with the lifespan often leaning toward the shorter end if the fixtures are equipped with NiCd (nickel cadmium) batteries. Indicators that your batteries need replacement include lights consistently staying on for shorter durations at night, a noticeable dimming of the light, or a complete cessation of the solar lights.

Before investing in new batteries, conduct a couple of tests. Begin by cleaning the solar panels to ensure that accumulated dirt is not causing the diminished battery life. Next, switch the on/off switch to the off position and leave the lights in direct sunlight for two to three days.

This allows the lights to fully charge without utilizing stored energy at night. If the lights still fail to operate correctly, it’s a clear sign that battery replacement is necessary.

While NiMH (nickel metal hydride) batteries come at a higher cost compared to NiCd batteries, they offer an extended lifespan and are a more environmentally friendly option, making them a worthwhile investment in the long run.

7. Check for wire connection problems

Opting for solar-powered landscape lighting alleviates the need for burying electrical wires, offering a convenient alternative. However, there are still wires that may require your attention in the solar lighting setup.

In cases where the fixtures are detached from the solar panels, there’s a connecting wire between them that may be susceptible to damage from wildlife or pets. More commonly, there are internal wires linking the solar panel on the fixture to the batteries.

Despite being relatively protected, there is still a potential for wildlife to access and chew through these wires. Regular checks and protective measures can help safeguard the integrity of the wiring in your solar landscape lighting system.

8. Adjust the position of fixed objects appropriately

Achieving a full charge for your batteries necessitates a minimum of four to six hours of daily sunlight exposure for your solar panels. Despite initially positioning them for maximum sunlight capture during installation, it’s plausible that external factors such as guests, pets, wildlife, or even tools like a rake could displace one or more solar panels.

Additionally, over time, adjustments to their positions may be necessary to guarantee optimal illumination of pathways, gardens, or outdoor living areas. Regular checks and potential realignments will ensure that your solar panels continue to harness the sunlight effectively for efficient charging.

Benefits of cleaning solar lights

All types of outdoor lighting around your home, including solar lights, demand regular cleaning and maintenance. While solar lights are engineered to endure diverse and unpredictable weather conditions such as rainfall, intense sunlight, and snow, neglecting routine maintenance can lead to the accumulation of dirt and debris, potentially hampering their efficiency.

Benefits of cleaning solar lights

The great news is that undertaking proper maintenance for outdoor lighting yields numerous advantages. It has the potential to revive your garden lights and offers several compelling reasons for consistent, scheduled upkeep:

  • Firstly, you avoid shelling out substantial amounts on expensive repairs. Failure to clean dirt and debris from your solar panels can result in significant damage over time, possibly even voiding the warranty—an undesirable outcome. Furthermore, accumulated dirt can lead to rusting in the metal components of your solar panels, causing both rust and abrasion on the panel surfaces.
  • Another compelling rationale for solar panel cleaning is the opportunity to detect and address problems early on. Timely maintenance makes repairs considerably easier, preventing the worsening of damage over time. Moreover, it’s not solely about the financial aspect; no one desires a grimy solar panel susceptible to falling leaves, dust, and, in the worst-case scenario, bird droppings. Quite the unpleasant situation! Regular cleaning ensures the longevity and optimal performance of your solar lights, safeguarding your investment.


How often should I clean my solar lights?

Clean your solar lights approximately once a month for optimal performance.

Can I use water to clean my solar lights?

Yes, water can be used to clean your solar lights effectively.

Should I disassemble the solar lights before cleaning them?

Generally, there’s no need to disassemble solar lights before cleaning.

Can I use a pressure washer to clean solar lights?

Avoid using a pressure washer; use gentle cleaning methods for solar lights.

Are there specific cleaning tips for different types of solar lights (e.g., pathway lights, garden lights)?

While tips may vary, generally, gentle cleaning methods are suitable for all types of solar lights.

What should I do if the glass covering the solar panel is dirty or cloudy?

If the glass covering the solar panel is dirty or cloudy, clean it with a soft cloth or sponge.

Are there any precautions to take while cleaning solar lights?

Take precautions by turning off solar lights and avoiding direct sunlight exposure when wet.

Can I use a soft brush or cloth to clean the solar panels?

Yes, you can use a soft brush or cloth to clean the solar panels.

What should I do if my solar lights are not working after cleaning them?

If solar lights aren’t working after cleaning, check batteries, connections, and panel obstruction.

Can I use vinegar or baking soda to clean solar lights?

It’s advisable to avoid using vinegar or baking soda; use mild soapy water for cleaning solar lights.


Knowing “how to clean solar lights” is crucial for maintaining their efficiency and prolonging their lifespan. Regular cleaning ensures that the solar panels, a vital component of solar lights, remain free from dirt and debris, allowing them to capture and convert sunlight effectively.

By following proper cleaning techniques, one can enhance the performance of solar lights, promoting optimal illumination in outdoor spaces while contributing to energy efficiency and sustainability. Understanding the steps involved in cleaning solar lights empowers individuals to harness the full potential of solar energy and enjoy the benefits of eco-friendly, sun-powered lighting.