Cleaning Solar Panels With Vinegar | Is It Safe?

Cleaning Solar Panels With Vinegar | Is It Safe?

Vinegar is made up of acetic acid, a powerful cleaning agent that can effectively break down dirt, dust, and other debris. But should you use it on your expensive panels? Is it safe? These questions — and more — will be answered in this guide about cleaning solar panels with vinegar. 

Below is a list of the topics that are covered here. If you want to skip sections, feel free to tap on any of the bullets. 

Can you use vinegar to clean solar panels?

Yes, vinegar is a great option for cleaning solar panels because it has acetic acid.

This type of acid is an organic compound. It is what gives vinegar the intense aroma and sour taste that we are all familiar with. It’s also what gives vinegar its cleaning power, making it effective at removing the stubborn dirt, dust, and grime buildup that lowers the efficiency of solar panels.

Is vinegar safe for cleaning solar panels?

Yes, vinegar is safe to incorporate into our solar panel cleaning method. However, we need to consider the cleaning power or level of acetic acid in vinegar when picking the correct type of vinegar to clean a solar panel system.

You see, not all vinegars are the same.

In terms of cleaning agents, you’re looking at either distilled white vinegar or cleaning vinegar.

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Distilled white vinegar VS. white cleaning vinegar

Distilled white vinegar VS. white cleaning vinegar
An image illustrates the distinction between distilled white vinegar and cleaning white vinegar in the context of cleaning solar panels.

Distilled white vinegar is what you and I have at home. This is the type of vinegar that you can find together with other dressings in the grocery store, like balsamic vinegar, for example.

This type of vinegar has about 4–8% acetic acid. It’s also the kind that’s safe to use as a cleaning agent for your solar panel system.

White cleaning vinegar, on the other hand, is just a notch more concentrated with acetic acid. This tiny bit, however, makes it about 20 times more powerful. And, more importantly, it is unsafe to clean your solar panels.

That being said, you would still need to dilute distilled white vinegar before you use it on your solar panels.

Cleaning solar panels with vinegar mixture (step-by-step)

Infographic showing how to clean solar panels with vinegar in 9 easy steps

When cleaning panels with vinegar solutions, it is important to take the following steps:

Step 1: Prepare the materials needed

You will need white distilled vinegar, de-ionized water, a hose or bucket, a soft cloth, and a clean spray bottle.

Note that de-ionized water is important because it has no mineral contents. Therefore, cleaning your solar panels with it won’t leave streaks or water marks.

If necessary, you could also prepare a fine bristle brush to remove tough dirt and dust. And, of course, we also recommend using safety gear such as goggles, gloves, and face masks.

Step 2: Dilute vinegar with de-ionized water

We recommend a water-to-vinegar ratio of 8:1. For a 1-liter spray bottle, that’s 4 cups of water to 1/4 cup of vinegar.

Step 3: Check for possible cracks and damages

Before actually cleaning your solar panels, you must check for any cracks or damages. This is to prevent leakage or water seepage, which, in turn, can help prevent further damage.

If you do find any damage to your solar array, call your installer or manufacturer and have them repair it immediately. Don’t clean your solar panels with vinegar before they do.

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Step 4: Rinse the solar panel with tap water

Tap from any regular garden hose that slides down your panels, taking with it any easy-to-remove dirt and debris.

In most cases, you can stop here and go on with your day. Your panels will be cleaner than before you hosed them down, which, in turn, improves their efficiency with every little effort.

But if you still see tough spots of dirt, grime, bird poop, and other debris, you can proceed to the next step.

Step 5: Wipe down your panels with a soft, lint-free cloth

Using soft, lint-free cloth will dry your solar panels while also removing some remaining dust buildup on the surface. Make sure to use circular motions while wiping down the surface of every solar panel.

Step 6: Spray the diluted vinegar solution on the solar panel

Spray the diluted vinegar mixture you’ve previously prepared onto every solar panel, or on the spots that need further cleaning. Allow it to sit for 10 minutes.

Step 7: Wipe down the solar panel surface again

With another clean cloth, gently wipe your panels dry. At this point, any stubborn dirt spots should be easily removed without causing any damage to your solar system.

Step 8: Rinse again with water

Once done, rinse off the solar panel with clean tap water and dry it with a soft cloth. Make sure to remove any residual solution to avoid vinegar damage and corrosion.

Step 9: Inspect the solar panel

Finally, inspect the solar panel for any streak marks and discoloration that may still be present. If so, repeat steps 6–9 until all residues are removed.

Other cleaning agents you’ll want to avoid

Soap-Based Detergents

Soap-Based Detergents
A picture displaying a soap-based detergent that should be excluded when cleaning solar panels.

To be fair, many people have used soapy water to clean their panels without any issues. It’s not inherently harmful and can be effective. 

The problem, however, is that soap-based detergents can leave residues and marks when they’re not rinsed off well. 

This can end up damaging the surface of your solar panels, which, in turn, can diminish their efficiencies. 

Harsher Chemicals

You likely also found cleaning chemicals in your groceries’ cleaning aisle. These products will likely be in the same section as the white cleaning vinegar that we previously talked about. 

While tempting, avoid them. These products likely have harsh chemicals that can strip your solar panels of their protective coating, causing discoloration. 

How Often Should We Clean Solar Panels?

Most of the time, you won’t have to. Rainfall and melted snow will often be enough to wash away the debris and dirt buildup on your solar panels. 

However, there will be cases where you might need to clean your solar panels. 

Maybe you don’t get a lot of rain or snow where you live, or maybe there’s construction nearby, or maybe you live near the highway. Whatever the case may be, solar panel cleaning every 6 months or so should be enough. 


Cleaning panels with vinegar is an effective and safe way to ensure your solar panel performs at its best. The small percentage of acetic acid in distilled white vinegar is strong enough to remove stubborn dirt and grime buildup without causing any damage. 

That being said, avoid cleaning vinegar, soapy solutions, and other harsh chemical cleaners. You might also want to see if you have solar panels cleaning services available in your area. That’s an option, too! Just make sure they don’t use a pressure washer. Those aren’t recommended because they can cause panels to crack due to too much pressure.

Also, if you don’t have solar panels yet but are ready to take the next step, we have a network of pre-vetted installers you can use. They’re ready to give you 3 FREE quotes right away.