How to Clean Solar Panels for Maximum Efficiency

Protect your investment and keep solar panels operating smoothly by regularly cleaning them

Kristin Salaky
Written by Kristin Salaky
Updated December 30, 2022
Solar panels on modern house
Photo: Bernhard Lang / Getty Images


Only DIY if you know what you're doing.

Time to complete

1 hour



Doing the labor yourself goes a long way.

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What you'll need:


  • Garden hose
  • Soft-bristle brush or squeegee
  • Sponge


  • Mild cleaning solution
  • Bucket
  • Water

Solar panels are a proven source of clean energy for your home that can pay for themselves over and over again. One of the most attractive parts about installing solar panels for a homeowner is that they require very little maintenance, and they can last upwards of 30 years. 

However, after being exposed to the outdoor elements season after season, it's helpful to clean them to keep them running at maximum efficiency. Use this step-by-step guide to learn how to regularly clean solar panels, perform a deeper clean if needed, and discover some maintenance tips to extend their lifespan and keep producing solar energy for years to come. 

Safety note: If your solar panels are installed on the roof, always take extra precautions when cleaning them, such as enlisting the help of a friend or family member to supervise, and ensuring your ladder is sturdy.

Preparing to Clean Your Solar Panels

Avoid damaging your panels but always using only approved cleaning supplies and materials. You should never use:

  • Harsh soaps such as laundry detergent

  • Abrasive cloths or steel wool

  • Brooms or strong bristled-brushes

Using non-approved cleaning supplies means you could permanently scratch your solar panels and lead to costly repairs.

  1. Start With a Light Clean

    Man hosing down solar panels
    Photo: Ladanifer / Getty Images

    For cleaning regular amounts of dirt and debris, or if you’re performing routine maintenance, start with a light clean. You’ll only need your garden hose, as the high pressure from a pressure washer can scratch the glass surface of the panels. Simply spray down the solar panels with the garden hose and let them dry out in the sun.

  2. Gather Your Deep-Clean Supplies

    If you haven’t cleaned your panels in a while, if they’re particularly soiled, or if there’s a buildup of sticky substances on them, you may need a deeper clean. 

    When choosing tools and materials, pick a mild cleaning solution (such as dishwashing detergent) to avoid exposing the panels to harsh chemicals. Also, opt for a soft-bristle brush or squeegee to prevent scratching the panels (which can result in decreased energy production).

  3. Create a Soapy Solution

    The next step is to mix ‌the dishwashing detergent in a water-filled bucket to form soapy water. That’s right: Cleaning your high-efficiency solar panels follows the same cleaning steps as washing your car.

  4. Hose and Scrub the Panels

    Hose down the dirty panels with a garden hose, ensuring that the water isn’t too hot or too cold. Then, start scrubbing the soapy solution onto the panels using the brush or squeegee.

    For more targeted spots, such as sapling or bird droppings, you may need to use a little more force with the soft side of the kitchen sponge.

  5. Rinse and Air Dry the Panels

    Once the scrubbing step is complete, rinse away the cleaning solution until the water runs clear, and let the panels air dry in the sun. Take this opportunity to inspect your now-clean solar panels for any signs of damage, like small cracks in the panes.

DIY Solar Panel Cleaning vs. Hiring a Pro

If you prefer to hire a professional, there are plenty of solar panel cleaning services available. Hiring professional cleaners is a good idea if you have a steep roof that the panels are installed on, if they’re particularly soiled, or if you want to guarantee a regular cleaning schedule. 

The average cost of hiring a professional solar panel cleaning service is about $3 to $10 per panel, but sometimes they charge a flat rate of $150 to $350. Depending on the manufacturer, they may offer you a service plan when you purchase the panels, as well as an option to set up a recurring annual service appointment to inspect them and ensure they’re operating properly. 

You should strongly consider hiring a pro when:

  • You live near a heavily forested area and there are trees blocking access to your solar panels

  • There is excessive dirt and buildup that will require special tools or extra time to clean

  • You are not confident in your ladder safety or the location of the panels is difficult to reach

Additional Solar Panel Cleaning Tips

Check out some maintenance tips to keep your solar panels lasting for years to come:

  • Use a leaf blower during the fall to clear the panels from leaves and twigs.

  • Trim back landscaping and greenery that may be growing over the solar panels.

  • Inspect the panels occasionally, and tighten any loose parts.

  • Check for cracks in the pane’s glazing and sealing.

  • If you notice any broken parts, weigh the cost to repair the solar panels versus replacing them.

  • Install an energy monitoring system to track usage to determine if they’re operating at maximum efficiency.

Frequently Asked Questions

First things first, you may wonder if solar panels require cleaning. While it’s not completely necessary for them to operate properly, as the occasional rainfall can rinse away dirt and debris, manually cleaning them from time to time can keep them operating more efficiently.

Dirt, debris, pollen, and bird droppings can collect on the surface of the panels, causing the efficiency to drop by 5% to 20%. Depending on the amount of solar panels you have, this can add up over time, which is why it’s a good idea to set a regular maintenance schedule. Moreover, if you live in a climate with little to no rainfall, more debris can accumulate, causing inefficiencies that would be clear in your electricity bill.

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