An outdoor solar light can light up your yard in an affordable, eco-friendly, and convenient manner. You won’t need to worry about extension cords or replacing batteries because they recharge on their own. Nonetheless, even the best outdoor solar lights still require maintenance every month or so.

Harsh outdoor conditions like sun, storms, and snow can affect the performance of your solar garden light, especially if it is dirty. Keep reading to learn how to clean outdoor solar lights.

How to Clean Outdoor Solar Lights in 5 Easy Steps

Cleaning outdoor solar lighting will require you to clean the solar panel and light fixture.

Get the right tools.

1. Get the Right Tools

The right tools will facilitate the cleaning process without damaging your solar lamp. You will only need a few household items. Ensure to complete the process at dawn or dusk when the panels are cool in an outdoor space.


You can use gardening gloves while cleaning the solar light. Make sure to wash and dry the gloves before to prevent the spread of dirt.


To play it safe, gather two washcloths for the cleaning. You can use a kitchen or bathroom washcloth.

Soft Bristle Brush

Soft bristle brushes can scrub stuck dirt. Washcloths cannot always extract dirt from nooks on your solar path light, so choosing an appropriately-sized soft bristle brush helps.

Water and Mild Detergent

Filling a bucket with a mix of warm water and mild detergent can protect the solar cell surface while removing dirt and germs. Make sure to use a non-abrasive detergent.


Cleaning white vinegar mixed with mild detergent and water can remove grease, dust, grime, and debris while cleaning your solar panel.

Absorbent Towels

A dry towel can rub off any unneeded water from the solar panel after cleaning.

2. Clean the Solar Panels

The above materials work together to clean buildup off your solar panels and artificial light without damaging the electronics. Removing dust lets the panels charge fully in the sunlight so that they can store more energy.

Clean the solar panels.

Spray with Water, Rub with Damp Cloth

You can start by spritzing the solar panel with water. Then, rub a damp cloth along its length. Make sure to wring it before use as excess fluid may damage the system. This method should remove debris, and you can do it monthly.

Scrub with Brush/Detergent

If you find that water alone leaves behind smudges, then you should try washing it with dish soap and a brush. A drop of soap in a bucket of water should do the trick.

Dipping a soft cloth in the soapy water and rubbing the panels should displace more dirt, and you can go in with a toothbrush to take off any stubborn grime.

Important: While cleaning the panel, go ahead and clean the light cover and light bulb. You can improve the appearance and longevity of your light cover and LED bulb by reducing dirt.

Try to clean the plastic components as well to minimize corrosion. Dirt in the plastic globe can prevent light from shining through, so you will want to keep it clear.

Avoid getting water under the panel. Generally, you can wash your panels with soap every three months to reduce dust. However, those who live in dusty environments will need to clean them more frequently.

Wash with Vinegar

Vinegar is a natural cleanser that can effectively remove debris from your solar panel. Mixing vinegar in a 1:8 ratio with water and adding a sizable squirt of detergent in a spray bottle can create a powerful cleaning agent.

White distilled vinegar works best because of its high acidity. You spritz the panels with vinegar and rub it with a paper towel to cut dirt. You can use this method every three months.

Rinse with Water

If you use soapy water or vinegar on your solar panel, you will want to rinse it with clean water. A paper towel or dishcloth submerged in water and brushed over the surface will remove any soap scum that could collect more dirt.

Dry/Polish with Towels

Finally, you can dry the solar panel with a dry cloth to remove excess water. Otherwise, it could seep into the solar lighting unit and damage the electronics.

3. Maintenance

Now that you have clean solar panels, you can optimize the performance of your solar light by maximizing the amount of direct sunlight that reaches the panel, maintaining the battery, analyzing the wiring, and changing the LED light as necessary.

Solar light maintenance.

Remove Blockages (Shrubs, Trees, Bushes)

Shrubs, trees, and bushes can all impact the amount of sunlight absorbed by the panels. Most photovoltaic cells have a 20% to 23% efficiency, so you should increase the sun exposure to ensure that the solar panel absorbs the most radiation possible.

Quick Tip: By regularly trimming nearby nature, you can maximize sunlight exposure. Try to prune the area around your solar-powered light monthly.

Check the Batteries for Corrosion

If you have cleaned your decorative solar lights entirely and find that the rechargeable battery fails to charge, it may have corrosion. Try to dismantle the outdoor lighting unit to access the solar battery housing. After exposing the batteries, search for dust or colored specks.

Check for Damage (Wires, Panels, Connections)

After dismantling the solar light, inspect the wires, panels, and connections for any damage.

A frayed wire, cracked panel, or loose connection may require professional attention or a replacement part. Also, check the plastic components for any cracks or dents so that you can replace them.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about the cleaning and maintenance of your solar landscape lights.

How Do You Clean Cloudy Plastic Solar Lights?

A cloudy or frosted plastic solar light can reflect light away from the photovoltaic cell and reduce efficiency. You can use clear nail polish to refresh a plastic-covered cell to make it appear translucent. Try to keep the layer thin to avoid blocking UV radiation from reaching your solar outdoor light.

How Do You Clean Solar Light Batteries?

Solar energy batteries can oxidize, so make sure to check them every other month for damage. Open the compartment and use a soft brush to remove any white powder. You can use sandpaper to scrub more stubborn corrosion as well. If that does not work, you will need to replace it.

Does Rain Ruin Solar Lights?

Rain can ruin a solar light if it gets inside the housing and touches the battery, wiring, or other electronic parts. However, it should not damage the external parts of your decorative light. You may wish to clean solar lights after the storm to remove stains and optimize sun exposure to your landscape lighting.

Can You Use Vinegar to Clean Solar Panels?

You can use vinegar to clean solar lights. This natural antimicrobial agent can remove germs from the surface without damaging the lighting. Make sure to dilute it with water and soap or detergent first. Also, you will need to wipe it off once you have finished cleaning to preserve the functionality of the panels.

Can I Use Regular Rechargeable Batteries in Solar Lights?

You cannot use regular rechargeable alkaline batteries in solar-powered outdoor lights. Solar power must run through an inverter to store in a battery and dispense to the lighting, requiring a special unit. Solar panels produce DC electricity that must convert to AC before being usable in solar light.


Dirty solar panels impair the conversion of radiation into electricity by reducing the amount of usable cell space to harness the sun’s power. By cleaning the panels, fixtures, and batteries, you can extend the longevity of your system and improve the appearance of your backyard.

You can use a combination of soap, water, and vinegar with a soft towel or bristle brush to remove excess debris and create a clean surface.

I recommend you start with water and a cloth and only add more ingredients if that proves insufficient. Make sure to wipe any cleansers off to avoid damaging the light.