How Often Should You Clean Solar Panels? | Hint: Maybe Never

Feature image for "how often should you clean solar panels?" blog, with a solar panel next to a bucket of water, wash mitts, and a squeegee

A clean solar panel system is an efficient system, and an efficient system minimizes your carbon footprint and energy bills effectively. The question is, though: how often should you clean your solar panels?

Luckily, solar panel cleaning is pretty chill. A good rain can do wonders, washing away most of the grime that gathers over time. But, just like that one corner of the garden that doesn’t get enough water, sometimes you’ll need to step in with a bit of manual cleaning, especially if you’re in a dusty area or have trees nearby.

This circles us back to why you’re here: solar panel cleaning. Let’s talk about it. Listed below are the topics I’m covering. Feel free to tap on any of the bullets to skip sections. Or, better yet, read it all from the top.

How often should you clean your solar panels on your roof?

The short answer is that you can just wait for rain and let it do the job for you. About once a year is what experts recommend. But, of course, not everyone’s situation is the same. Especially if you live in a highly polluted area, you might have to clean them more often.

A traditionally installed solar panel system will be inherently low-maintenance because rainwater just glides off the modules, cleaning the array of dust and debris. But let’s explore the handful of instances where you might have to do some solar panel maintenance. In no particular order, the most common ones are:

  • If solar panels are installed flat,
  • If there is a noticeable decline in efficiency,
  • If rain is too rare or too light,
  • If you notice any buildup of foreign substances, such as:
    • bird poop
    • tree sap
    • heavy dust clamps

If your dirty solar panels have these, we recommend not dragging your feet on getting them cleaned. The quicker you tackle it, the less you’ll worry about any dip in their performance.

Thinking about giving your solar panels a spa day? It’s a good move to call in the pros for this job. They tend to gather the most guests—think pollen and leaves—by the end of winter and again when summer says goodbye. Scheduling a clean-up around these times can keep your panels soaking up the sun without a hitch.

But what if you don’t want to call in solar panel cleaners?

How to clean solar panels

When the question becomes, “How often should you clean roof solar panels?” then maybe you’ve thought about doing some thorough cleaning. Don’t worry, it’ll be easy. First off, timing is everything; aim for an early morning or late afternoon session to avoid the heat. This is when your panels are cool, making them safer and easier to clean.

Grab a garden hose, mild soap, a bucket of water (mild detergent is perfect to keep your panels clean), and a soft-bristled brush. Gently hose down the panels to wet them, then dip your brush in the soapy water and lightly scrub away any dirt or bird droppings.

Rinse off the suds with your hose, and you’re done. This simple routine can keep your panels efficient and extend their lifespan, ensuring your investment pays off under the Aussie sun.

Ehem.. How about vinegar, you say? Well, I’m glad you brought it up!

Get 3 Solar Quotes From Quality Local Installers.

Can I use vinegar to clean my panels? (Should I even?!)

Cleaning your solar panels with vinegar as an alternative to cleaning solutions has a lot of benefits. This is thanks to the acetic acid it contains. Plus, we’ve got a great step-by-step outline on cleaning solar panels with vinegar to make it easy for you to clean out debris, etc.

Acetic acid is great at breaking down the stubborn dirt and grime that can make your panels less efficient over time. Plus, it’s a safe, eco-friendly, and thorough cleaning option that won’t harm your panels or the environment.

However, not all vinegars are created equal for this task. You’ll want to stick to distilled white vinegar, which has a safe concentration of acetic acid for solar panel cleaning and polishing.

Remember to dilute it with deionized water (think an 8:1 ratio of water to vinegar) to avoid any potential damage. And it’s crucial to check your solar system for any cracks or damage before you start—water seepage into the solar system can cause bigger problems down the line.

A few practical tips:

  • Wash your panels with tap water before and after applying the vinegar solution to help loosen and remove debris. Pro tip: You can do this after rainfall to be more efficient.
  • Use a soft, lint-free cloth for wiping to avoid scratching the panels.
  • After polishing, always give the panels a final rinse with water to remove any vinegar residue, ensuring your photovoltaic panels are spotless and functioning at their best.

Now that we’ve tackled how and how often to clean the solar panels, let’s talk about how to keep them clean throughout the years.

How to keep solar panels clean

To minimize the frequency of tidying your solar panels and protect them from environmental factors, there are several proactive measures you can take:

Install in a strategic location

Position solar panels in a place where they are less likely to get dirty quickly. Avoid areas directly under trees where falling leaves, sap, and bird waste could be a problem. If possible, install arrays at a steeper angle; this not only optimizes their exposure to the sun but also helps debris slide off more easily.

Use protective coatings

Consider applying a hydrophobic coating to your solar panels. These coatings can help repel water and prevent grime and dirt from sticking to the modules. This means rain can more effectively wash away any accumulated debris, reducing the need for frequent manual scrubbing or polishing.

Regularly trim nearby foliage

Keep trees and bushes trimmed to minimize the amount of leaves and sap that might fall on the module’s surface. This also reduces shading and ensures maximum exposure to sunlight, thus maintaining efficiency.

Get 3 Solar Quotes From Quality Local Installers.

Install bird deterrents

Birds can be a significant source of dirt and damage for solar panels. Installing bird spikes or using other deterrent methods around the installation can help keep birds away, thus preventing bird droppings from accumulating on your array.

Perform routine inspections

Regularly inspecting your panels for accumulations of dirt and debris can help you address issues before they require major washing. This proactive inspection can also help spot any potential damages early, such as cracks or scratches, which can be exacerbated by debris or water infiltration.

By implementing these measures, you can effectively reduce the maintenance needs of your solar panels while extending their lifespan and ensuring optimal performance. Of course, most of these are optional or should only be done as desired or needed.


Keeping your modules clean is key to making sure they keep performing well and last a long time. It’s not just about cleaning off the dust or bird waste when they pile up; it’s about sticking to a regular schedule that suits the environment around your home.

You might also think about a few preventative steps to maintain cleanliness for longer. For instance, installing your panels at an angle can help debris slide right off, and using protective coatings could make them less sticky for dirt and more slippery for rainwater.

Now, on the off chance that you’re here and you still don’t have a solar panel system, we have a network of pre-vetted solar installers that can help you out. If you need them, we can get you 3 FREE quotes right away.