Jump to content

Cleaning solar panels - conflicting information. How do you do it? Did I screw up mine?

John E Davies

Recommended Posts

Zamp says it is perfectly OK to use a mild automotive soap and water, which is what I have always done, I scrub the panels with a soft brush and a pole when I wash the trailer. They also say:

“Do not use any harsh chemicals or a power washer when cleaning the panels as this could damage the anti reflective coating applied to the glass.”


But a whole lot of solar specialists say never use soap to clean a panel, the soap remains behind as a film and attracts more dirt and can harm that anti-reflective coating. Here is one article, these guys have developed specialty equipment using deionized water and rotating brushes. It is quite interesting, but there is no way a home or Ollie owner is going to do that!


I just finished completely detailing the roof of “Mouse” and I used a car detailing spray (Griot’s Speed Shine) which has no waxes or silicones in it. It is perfect for prepping the surface with a clay bar before applying a carauba wax or a coating like Rejex. There were a whole lot of hard water spots on the panels. I used an artificial clay bar with Speed Shine and also scraped a couple of nasty sap deposits using a wet plastic scraper. The panels look great, the spots are gone. BUT did I damage or remove that coating? Are my panels screwed up?

Comments welcome, do you clean your panels, and how?



BTW that bar is truly brilliant compared to a real clay bar. It works great to take off bug carcasses and small sap drops. Really large sap tends to clog it up. I use a plastic scraper with Speed Shine to get those off. If you drop it, wash it off in a bucket of water and carry on. OTH, a genuine clay bar should be thrown out if dropped. One bad thing about the Griots one, it is round, so if you lay it down on the roof it can roll right off and go half way across your garage floor. 😳

John Davies

Spokane WA


  • Like 4

SOLD 07/23 "Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 32” LT tires, airbags, Safari snorkel, Maggiolina Grand Tour 360 Carbon RTT.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Moderators

I’ve always just used the wash product I was using on the trailer with a good rinse.  So far, so good.  I like Griots products and will try their synthetic clay bar.  I’ve done cars before with real clay but not my trailer.  It’s probably time, but… it’s a lot of surface area!  Mike

  • Like 4

Texas Hill Country | 2016 Elite II #135 | 2020 Ram 2500 6.7L


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Moderators

I'm sure you'll be fine. We mostly let the rain and wind take care of debris. In pollen/whirlygig season, I brush off with a soft brush or mop, if we're camped long enough to collect them.

We've used mild carwash soap on the trailer, and panels,, for 14 years. No issues.

At home, we've never cleaned the house panels, and never seen an issue.  (Of course, we get average of 34 inches of rain, and plenty of wind... no smog.)

  • Like 2

2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12

Florida and Western North Carolina, or wherever the truck goes....

400 watts solar. DC compressor fridge. No inverter. 2 x 105 ah agm batteries .  Life is good.




Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Moderators

Let me see -

wind, rain, hail, sand, dirt, bugs, gloom of night, harsh sun, tree sap, repeat (not necessarily in that order) - what could go wrong?

15 hours ago, John E Davies said:

Do not use any harsh chemicals or a power washer when cleaning the panels as this could damage the anti reflective coating applied to the glass.”

"harsh chemicals" - define please.  For what its worth, I don't usually consider anything that I can leave my unprotected hand in for an hour unduly "harsh".  But, then again, you should see my hands 😁.

"power washer" - do they mean that poor pathetic electric power washer or the 5,000 psi job that will take your skin off?   In any case - is it ever wise to use a power washer of virtually any sort on electrical equipment?

I wash my solar panels with the same stuff I use for the rest of the Ollie and for my cars and for my truck.  I don't see any difference.  But, then again, my eyes are getting to be a lot like my hands 😇.


  • Like 6

2023 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5EB FX4 Max Towing, Max Payload, 2016 Oliver Elite II - Hull #117 "Twist"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...