Alice asked, “Does anyone know how to clean a skylight without all the water ending up back in the room?”
Skylights should be cleaned at least once per year, though they may need two or more cleanings per year. It is best to clean the skylight on a cloudy day, as the direct sunlight can cause the water to leave streaks.¹ Follow the steps below for a complete skylight cleaning, from inside to out.
Cleaning the Skylight
You Will Need:
- A plastic drop cloth
- An extendable sponge mop & squeegee
- A ladder
- A bucket
- Distilled water
- Dish liquid
- White vinegar
- Organic, powdered dish detergent
- A towel, preferably cotton
Steps to Clean the Skylight:
- If there are any furnishings directly under the skylight, move them to the side.²
- Lay a plastic drop cloth² or several bath towels below the skylight to catch any drips.³
- Since you will need to clean the skylight regularly, it would be best to invest in an extendable mop and squeegee made especially for skylights, which can be found at an office supply or janitorial supply store. If you would prefer to make your own, you can duct tape the handle of a broom to a handheld squeegee and attach a sponge mop² to a painter’s extension pole.⁴
- If necessary, set up a ladder for additional height using proper ladder techniques.²
- If your skylight has a screen, remove it.² If you would like to clean the screen, check out the guide on How to Clean Window Screens.
- Pour a gallon of water into a bucket, and add a little dish liquid and ¼ cup ammonia.² If you would prefer, you can use ½ cup of white vinegar instead of ammonia and a tablespoon of organic, powdered dish detergent instead of dish liquid. It is best to use distilled water to prevent any mineral deposits.³
- Dip the mop in the bucket, wring out the excess so it is only damp, then mop the skylight.² If the skylight is at an angle, mop from the highest point downward.¹
- If your squeegee is new, clean it first with dish liquid to remove any oil that could still remain from manufacturing and leave streaks on the window.³ Wipe the squeegee with a slightly wet cloth to prevent it from skipping, then use it to remove the water and dirt from the glass.⁵ Work from right to left, overlapping each stroke about an inch, and wipe off the squeegee between each stroke.³
- Wrap a lint-free towel³ around the squeegee, and use the towel to soak up any drips along the edges.² If the skylight is plastic or Plexiglas, do not use a microfiber cloth as it can scratch.³ A cotton towel would be best.²
- Go outside, climb onto the roof at a safe location and clean the outside of the skylight in the same way; wiping on the same cleaning solution with a sponge mop, squeegeeing off the excess water, then wiping up drips.²
Additional Tips and Advice
- The first time a skylight is cleaned, it will likely have a protective manufacturing film on it, which will cause the cleaning to produce streaks and water marks. Repeat the cleaning until the glass is streak-free; it may take a few tries. If needed, you can add a bit more ammonia to the cleaning solution (if using ammonia).²
- For kitchen skylights or if there is a lot of dirt or grease on the skylight, you may need a stronger cleaner, so add a bit more ammonia or vinegar to the solution.⁶
- Only apply a cleaning solution with the sponge mop; do not spray a cleaner directly onto the skylight as it will likely float downward into your breathing space.³
- The solution may drip on you while you are cleaning, so consider wearing protection over your eyes.²
- To catch the water as it is applied, you can cut a hole in an umbrella and attach it upside-down on the mop handle. Just be careful not to scratch the wall with the umbrella.
- While cleaning the skylight, you may want to inspect it for any damage to the glass itself, or to the caulk or paint along the edges.¹
- Use a garden hose to spray off the outside of the skylight whenever you are using the hose for the landscaping.²
- Always follow proper ladder safety guidelines. See Wikipedia for more information.
- Ventilate the area well and consider wearing gloves and goggles when working with ammonia. For more ammonia safety information, see Wikipedia.
- How to Clean Practically Anything by Consumer Reports
- Clean it Fast, Clean it RIGHT by Jeff Bredenberg
- Complete Idiot’s Guide to Green Cleaning by Mary Findley & Linda Formichelli
- Handy Household Hints from Heloise
- Construction Cleanup by Don Aslett
- Complete Household Handbook by Good Housekeeping