Bring your garden lighting back to life with my tips and tricks. Learn not only how to clean solar lights, but, how to restore and maintain foggy solar panels.
Although only a minor maintenance task, cleaning is one that will help keep your solar light shine brighter for longer.
Here are my tips on how to clean solar lights. Keeping them in tip-top condition without damaging the solar cell.
How to Clean Solar Panels on Garden Lights
No complicated instructions for how to clean solar panels on outdoor lights here though. But, I do want to give you some handy do’s and don’ts for solar lights cleaning.
Firstly, always try to clean path lights, security lights, or landscaping lighting, in fact, all your garden lights, a minimum of once a month. Or, when you see any build-up on the surface of the panel, whichever comes first.
This is done quite simply by using a soft damp cloth and a dish soap and water mixture. (For more hardened dirt and grime use a vinegar and water mixture (1 part vinegar to 8 parts water).
Secondly, if you live in an area where groundwater has high mineral content, it is always worth washing with distilled or deionized water. After washing down, dry off with a clean dry cloth.
What to Avoid when you Clean a Solar Light
Firstly, never use harsh chemicals like bleach or laundry detergent as these can damage the solar panel surface. In addition to that never be tempted to use a high-pressure hose, which may cause water to creep in. Garden lights are weatherproof, but not pressure-proof.
Secondly, avoid very hot or cold water temperatures, lukewarm or room temperature is best. It is worth noting that you should also avoid using paper towels for drying – as, with windows and TV screens, it can create more dust.
Last but not least, never use anything abrasive or apply too much pressure. Bring out a soft bristle toothbrush for extra stubborn dirt.
Cleaning the Battery Housing
It is a good idea to check the battery compartment after you have finished your cleaning. Carefully open up the compartment and check for any sign of water sitting anywhere.
Remove the batteries to check for corrosion, a white dust will have formed. You can gently remove this with a dry soft toothbrush wiping it clean with a soft cloth afterward.
Personally, where possible, and especially if the corrosion doesn’t come off easily, I would replace the battery. However, if replacements are not available then try gently scrubbing with a fine-grit sandpaper.
How to Fix Cloudy Solar Lights
Although sandpaper is too rough for regular cleaning, when I talk about how to restore solar panels, I make an exception.
However, a word of warning is to always ensure the fine grit sandpaper and solar cell are wet. By doing this you can very gently scrub away the hardened grime.
Stop wet sanding as soon as the cell becomes clear and then continue cleaning with a few dabs of isopropyl alcohol on a soft cloth. After it is dry, place a protective cover over the rest of the solar light and spray a UV light-resistant clear coat on the solar cell.
Alternatively, you can use a headlight restoration kit such as this one, which will achieve the same results.
Let the clearcoat dry before spraying on another layer, you will know when it is ready as the cell will be smooth and glossy.
How to Prevent Cloudy Solar Panels
Cloudiness on a solar cell is just the plastic layer oxidizing due to sun exposure. As I’ve explained above, it is possible to restore solar lights but preventing it from happening saves you some time and the risk of any damage.
The process could not be easier. After you clean the solar cell, cover the rest of the light using a cardboard template and spray on a clear headlight coating – the kind you use on your car’s headlights. Yes, that’s all it takes.
Frequently Asked Questions (People Also Ask)
Here are my last few maintenance tips for cleaning solar lights.
How do you clean the white film off solar panels?
You can clean the white film from solar panels either with a car headlight restoration kit or by using a fine wet and dry sanding paper.
It is important that you keep the panel wet while doing this process and that you clean with isopropyl alcohol or vinegar as soon as the toughest debris is gone.
Can you leave solar lights out all winter?
You can leave solar lights out all winter unless otherwise stated on the packaging. Solar panel yard lighting can withstand the weather conditions in winter when it has the appropriate waterproofing rating.
Is it OK to pressure wash solar panels?
Never use a pressure wash to clean your solar panels. Water can seep through and damage the internal components.
Remember, your solar lights rely purely on sunlight for their energy. Therefore it is important to stop dirt and debris from building up.
For the best illumination, in addition to the panel, don’t forget the caps and light cover. You can follow the same simple guide for how to clean plastic solar lights.
Yes, plastic and metal housing materials are sturdy. But they also need cleaning to avoid a build-up of dirt and any long-term damage such as rust. It might just be the case that your path lights shine brighter after you clean the light cover.