5 clear tips for cleaning skylights

July 28, 2015

What better way to let natural light into your home, while still maintaining your privacy, than with a skylight? All it takes is some simple maintenance to preserve your view and the knowledge of whether it's glass or acrylic.

5 clear tips for cleaning skylights

1. Clean exterior glass

One way to clean a skylight is to climb onto the roof and clean your skylight while standing securely on a ladder, preferably with someone else holding the ladder steady.

  • Another option is to reach the skylight with a telescopic pole and attachments, such as a squeegee and a sponge-mop end.
  • If you feel safer, climb onto the roof and squat next to the window.
  • Whatever method you choose, always think safety first and don't take chances!

A detergent-and-water solution consisting of 30 ml (2 tbsp) of dishwashing liquid to 600 mL (2 1/2 cups) of water — or any alcohol-based glass cleaner or a 50:50 solution of vinegar and water – works well. Generally, alcohol-based cleaners give a streak-free finish.

2. Remove loose, caked-on dirt

Wet the window with a hose, dip the sponge mop into your cleaning solution (or spray it onto the mop head until it's damp), then wipe it over the window.

  • Rinse out the mop and wipe again with water.
  • Dry it with the squeegee.
  • Clean frames around skylight, watching for any sharp edges.
  • A twice-a-year cleaning of your skylight and frame is enough because you don't want to wear down the silicone seal around the skylight and cause leaks.

3. Clean glass skylight interior

Remove loose dirt and dust with a round-headed cobweb brush, or a barely-damp mop.

  • Rinse out the mop or change it, and then clean with one of the solutions mentioned above.
  • Don't forget to protect your carpet or floor.
  • Repeat every few months.
  • Clean wooden frames, if reachable, with furniture polish.
  • Finish, paint or stain frames every three years to protect the wood against damage from ultraviolet rays.

4. For acrylic skylights

Strong cleaning solvents can scratch and damage acrylic. Even using glass cleaner on acrylic can be a problem.

  • To clean the inside and outside of your acrylic window, mix 15 ml (1 tbsp) of dishwashing liquid in 4 litres (4 quarts) of warm water.
  • Dip a soft cloth into the solution, wipe over the window and rinse well.
  • For stubborn stains, use any specialty plastic cleaner, available from the auto-care section of supermarkets.
  • You can also use the plastic cleaner to remove marks on vinyl frames.
  • To remove roof tar from the exterior of the acrylic window, use a citrus-based cleaner. If it doesn't work, try kerosene dabbed on a cloth and wiped over the marks. (Don't forget to wear gloves.) Rinse thoroughly with a hose or a bucket of clear water.
  • Don't use a power washer; it could damage the insulation around the window, cause leaks and loosen tiles.

5. Clean the screen

You will need to remove a skylight’s screen to clean the inside of the window. If this is too difficult, open the window and clean the inside at the same time that you clean the outside.

  • Vacuum the screen using the upholstery brush attachment.
  • If the screen is particularly dirty give it a wash with a soft brush dipped in a solution of dishwashing liquid and warm water.
  • Rinse it thoroughly and allow to air-dry.
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