Should you clean your solar panels? A comprehensive guide

Solar panels, with their gleaming surfaces, are a symbol of sustainable energy. But beneath that shimmer lies a question that has sparked numerous debates among homeowners and experts alike: Should you clean them? Or is it just an unnecessary expense?

solar panel

The Case for Cleaning Solar Panels

The primary reason behind cleaning solar panels is to enhance their efficiency. Over time, dust, pollen, bird droppings, and other debris can accumulate on the surface of the panels. This layer of grime can potentially obstruct sunlight, leading to reduced power generation. But how significant is this reduction? While some specialists suggest a minor decrease of less than 1%, some users argue that they’ve experienced losses of up to 30%! So, if you notice a substantial dip in your panels’ output compared to previous years, perhaps it’s time for a thorough cleaning session.

Why Some Experts Say "No" to Cleaning

On the flip side, some experts believe that cleaning solar panels might be an overhyped practice. Eric Franssen, the head of the company "Finale24", shared with RTBF that cleaning solar panels might be an unnecessary expenditure. He emphasizes that a solar panel, even when artificially dirtied, loses less than 1% of its total power. This perspective suggests that the natural elements, such as rain, might be sufficient to keep the panels relatively clean.

When and How to Clean Your Solar Panels

The frequency of cleaning largely depends on your location. If your residence is near polluting factories or if there’s a tree shedding ample pollen close to your roof, an annual cleaning might be beneficial. However, if you’re situated in an area shielded from significant pollution sources, cleaning your solar setup once every five years should suffice.

When it comes to the cleaning process, simplicity is key. Use pure water and a soft cloth. Avoid splurging on expensive and often ineffective cleaning products. In fact, solar panels can be damaged if exposed to harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaning agents. It’s also advisable to be gentle during the cleaning process. Even with a soft brush, excessive scrubbing could damage the seals of the panels.

Additional Tips for Maintaining Solar Panel Efficiency

Monitor Regularly: Keep an eye on your solar panel’s performance. Regular monitoring can help you identify any significant drops in efficiency, which might indicate the need for cleaning or maintenance.

Professional Inspection: Consider having a professional inspect your solar panels every few years. They can provide insights into the overall health of your system and suggest any necessary repairs or cleaning.

Stay Safe: If you decide to clean the panels yourself, always prioritize safety. Solar panels are often installed in elevated areas, so ensure you have the proper equipment and take necessary precautions.


The debate on whether to clean solar panels is ongoing, with valid points on both sides. Ultimately, the decision rests with individual homeowners. By considering your location, monitoring your system’s performance, and weighing the potential benefits against the costs, you can make an informed choice that best suits your needs.