Outdoor solar lights such as those used in gardens, trees, patios or mounted on the exterior of a building are exposed to the elements: water, dirt, pollutants and, of course, the sun. They should be cleaned periodically to ensure optimal function and longevity. Fortunately, it is not difficult. Solar lights in your home and garden can shine with a few simple, inexpensive green cleaning products and a little routine maintenance.
How often to clean solar lights
Solar lights that are not regularly maintained will not last as long as those that undergo periodic cleaning and certainly won’t perform as well. Dirt prevents sunlight from entering the solar panels of the lights, which perpetually empty the battery because it fails to store enough energy. So, if you don’t regularly clean your solar lights, you’ll be inclined to replace them prematurely out of frustration for their poor performance.
But how often do lights need to be cleaned in order to keep them in good working order for years? It depends in part on where you live, but in general, cleaning should be done every one to three months.
Solar lights in humid climates tend to accumulate less dirt and debris than those in dry and dusty climates. If you live in a place where conditions are rainy or humid enough to pack in dust, try cleaning your sunlamps every two to three months (unless they get muddy, of course). If you are in a drier area, especially if it is often windy, monthly cleaning may be necessary. The best way to know how often to clean your lights is to simply check them periodically to see if they need attention.
Before you start
Always check the manufacturer’s instructions before cleaning your solar lights for the first time. Different types of lighting may have different requirements to ensure safe and effective cleaning and to prevent damage to the product.
Also be extra careful when cleaning the batteries. Wear protective goggles or goggles to prevent water from splashing into your eyes. If you have sensitive skin or allergies, it is recommended that you wear gloves during the cleaning process.
1 bottle of ecological dish soap
2 soft tea towels or old t-shirts
2 ecological cellulose sponges
1 pair of biodegradable waterproof gloves
1 old toothbrush or other small soft bristle brush
Do a preliminary surface cleaning
If your device has a cover that protects the bulb, remove it first. Then use the damp cloth to gently remove excess dust, dirt and organic debris from all surfaces of the device. Take special care when cleaning the bulb and electronic components, as water can damage them; do not over-soak your cleaning cloth.
Notice the electrical components of the unit
You may need a screwdriver to remove the cover from this sensitive area. Check the wires and cables to make sure they are clean. If necessary, clean them gently with a soft, dry cloth or an old t-shirt. Take a look at the exposed wires and metal components to make sure nothing is rusted or damaged. It is important that this area remains dry, so dab off any moisture very carefully with the cloth.
Clean the batteries if necessary
Check your device’s batteries for any telltale signs of corrosion – white, gritty, sand-like debris. A damp cloth will usually do the trick, but you can also use a soft, natural fiber bristle brush (old toothbrushes often work well) for stubborn corrosive dandruff. Also clean the battery compartment. Thoroughly dry the compartment and the batteries before reinserting them; moisture will promote corrosion.
Do a deep clean with dish soap
Once you’ve replaced the electrical component and battery cover (s), it’s time to go work on any lingering film residue covering the surfaces of the light, cover, and solar panel. This can usually be fixed with a damp cloth dampened with a drop of dish soap.
For a more stubborn gunk buildup, vinegar may be more effective. In this case, put eight parts water to one part vinegar and a small drop of dish soap in a spray bottle and mix well, then spray it on the areas with stubborn residue and rub with a non-abrasive cloth.
Rinse the device thoroughly
Perform a final rinse with a clean, soaked cloth or an old t-shirt to remove any lingering soap residue, as dust and dirt will tend to stick to it.