How to Clean Solar Panels on Garden Lights: 5 Methods and a Bonus!

To clean solar panels on garden lights is a basic maintenance task you should carry out regularly. This step is essential to solar light maintenance since it directly influences how well your outdoor lights function. However, many homeowners abstain from cleaning out their panels due to doubts or fears about breaking them. 

This reason is why we have compiled five safe methods (and a bonus one!) you can use to clean the solar panel on your garden light and continue enjoying the benefits of solar energy. 

Method #1: Damp Cloth

For this cleaning method, you’ll need a damp cloth. 

If you regularly clean the solar panels on your garden lights –which we highly advise – then these might not have that much dirt or debris on them. So, all you need to do is grab a cloth and lightly dampen it in water. Then, simply pass the damp cloth through the areas with dirt. If you encounter some stubborn dirt, you can sprinkle a little bit of warm water over the top. As you clean, make sure you squeeze out the cloth to keep the water away from the light’s internal electronics. 

Method #2: Soapy Water & Soft Cloth

For this cleaning method, you’ll need soapy water and two soft cloths. 

The first step here is to make soapy water. You can use your cleaning solution of choice. However, avoid adding cleaning solutions such as bleach.

Now, move on to your garden lights. You’ll have to remove the top cover off the base of your garden lights and, with the wet cloth, scrub the panel until you remove all the dust and grime. Be sure to use light pressure when you clean solar panels on garden lights not to damage the panel or any other part of the garden light. Once you finish cleaning the top, move to the base of the garden light. When you finish, remove any excess water with the dry cloth. 

Tip: if you don’t have a cloth, a standard dish sponge will do the job. Just don’t use the scrubby side.

Method #3: Window Cleaner

For this cleaning method, you’ll need a window cleaner and two soft cloths. 

Cleaning the solar panel on your garden light isn’t that much different from cleaning a window. First, remove the top off the base of your garden light. Now, you’ll grab one of the dry cloths to remove any dust from the solar panel. This time, simply spray a little window cleaner, perhaps Windex, and rub it lightly with a cloth or paper. Using a window cleaner is also an excellent method to remove the dirt off the glass base of your garden light and make sure all the light is coming through the glass. 

Method #4: Toothbrush

For this cleaning method, you’ll need a toothbrush, soapy water, and dry soft cloth. 

Using a toothbrush to clean solar panels on garden lights comes in handy when you haven’t cleaned your solar panels in a long time or when you encounter stubborn dirt that doesn’t wash off easily. The first thing you’ll do is remove the top from the base of your garden light. Then, grab your toothbrush and wet it before as this softens the toothbrush bristles. Now, glide the toothbrush across the surface with light pressure so as not to damage the solar panel or any part of the garden light. Once you finish, wash out the soap with water and pat dry your solar panels to remove any excess water. Make sure the water doesn’t filter to the inside of the solar panel lid since this can damage the batteries. 

Method #5: Sandpaper

For this cleaning method, you’ll need sandpaper, tape, and a water sprayer. 

Using the sandpaper method works wonders to clean garden light solar panels, especially the surface of the solar cell. So, the first thing you need to do is taping off the margins of the solar cell. This way, you won’t scratch or graze the surrounding metal. Now, grab the sandpaper and tear a few pieces. Next, take your sprayer, and spray water on the surface of the solar cell and the rough side of the sandpaper. 

Using light pressure, scrub the surface of the solar cell lightly with sandpaper. You’ll see how the grime stuck to the surface will start to come off. While you clean, try to keep everything moist. Once the solar cell is nice and clean, dry it off and remove any extra water down with a cloth.

Bonus: Keep Nearby Shrubs & Hedges Trimmed

Trimming nearby shrubs and hedges is an excellent way to keep your solar garden lights clean for as long as you can. 

Why? Well, for two reasons. If you have any plant, tree, or shrub blocking the sun for part of the day, your garden lights won’t receive enough sunlight, and consequently, they won’t produce their maximum output. In other words, once night falls, your garden lights will not stay on long after dark because the battery will not have enough stored energy. 

Trimming your plants and trees also prevents debris and dust from falling on your solar panels. This is most common during the fall. When the leaves and other debris start to fall, there’s a very good chance these will bury your garden lights. 

There you have it! Six cleaning methods that will make the solar panels on your garden lights look good as new and shine as bright as they can. 

Keeping the solar panels on your garden lights clean will ensure they last longer and can harness the energy of sunlight, and have an optimum energy output. When solar panels are dirty, they can lose up to 25% of the energy they generate. So, make sure you clean your solar panels regularly and appropriately. 

You may also be interested in our article on How to Heat A Greenhouse with Solar.

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