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How to Clean a Skylight

Last modified: 2020-03-30 | Approximate reading time 4 mins

Amanda Harvey

Skylights are a wonderful feature, adding natural light and dimension to even the dullest of rooms. Though skylights are becoming popular once again, they aren’t so common in modern homes.

Therefore, it is no wonder that the average homeowner may not understand how to correctly clean them. Skylights are usually in high to reach places, so it’ll require a little bit of finesse to get up to your ceiling to care for them.

Not only does the skylight need to be cleaned from the inside, but rain won’t always do the job at cleaning the outside. Luckily, the location, slope and shape of the skylight cause a large amount of dirt to wash away natural, though it will still need to be cleaned. If it’s that time of the year, and you’re not quite sure how to approach it. Don’t worry, we’ve for you covered!

Cuisine avec puits de lumière

Here is our step-by-step guide on how to clean a skylight!

What is your skylight type?

There are many different styles of skylights on the market, and these come in a variety of materials. Different materials will require different methods of cleaning. However, there are a few steps that will apply to cleaning all types of skylights! 

Clear the Area

First, remove furnishing from directly underneath the skylight, completely clearing the space from the possibility of anything dropping on what’s below. Next, lay down a few towels or a plastic drop cloth, protecting the floor underneath your skylight from drips and chemicals. Once the floor and surrounding area have been protected, you can move on to beginning to clean the skylight. It may be necessary to grab a ladder to reach your skylight.

Make sure to follow the proper steps to set up your ladder so that it is resting flat on the ground and steady. If your skylight is equipped with a screen, now would be the time to remove it. The screen will be cleaned separately from the face of the skylight.

Prepare the Surface

source: Flickr, blowfishsoup

Next, clean the frame of the skylight. Most skylight frames are made of aluminum, though coloured ones are anodized, and require no care other than washing. The frame can be washed using soapy water, followed by rinsing off the soap and thoroughly drying the surface.

Bear in mind that regardless of your skylight's material, if this is the first time you are cleaning it, there will likely be a protective manufacturing film over it. This may cause your cleaning job to produce streaks or watermarks on the surface of the skylight. If this happens, repeat our cleaning steps until the face of the skylight is streak-free. This may take a few tries, but be persistent! There is nothing worse than a streaky skylight.

Also, if the skylight is in your kitchen, it will have likely collected a good amount of dirt and grease, so a stronger cleaner may be necessary to remove it or add more part ammonia or vinegar to your cleaning solution.

Cleaning a Plastic Skylight

Plastic skylights are made from polycarbonate or acrylic. Using abrasive cleaners, cloths or pads can scratch the glazing, and solvents can damage them. Further, regular window cleaning fluids cannot be used, as they will damage the plastic by creating tiny cracks in the skylight surface.

Therefore, it is important to stick with a mild detergent or soap mixed with water. Avoid using ammonia-based cleaners on plastic, as these will damage the surface. Apply the solutions with a cellulose sponge or soft cloth and use clean water to rinse the solution off the skylight. Blot the skylight with a chamois making sure that it's dry.

Using a sharp tool to scrape off other forms of dirt is not recommended, as this will lead to damaging the surface of the skylight. If your skylight is acrylic, you can use methanol, kerosene, hexane, or a good grade of naphtha to remove stuck-on materials like paint, caulk, or tars.

For a polycarbonate skylight, use isopropyl alcohol or a good grade of naphtha to clean off these same materials. Make sure that the solution is applied using a soft cloth, and the debris is wiped away gently in full.

To add further protection to a plastic skylight, apply a thin coat of car polish or wax that is designed specifically for cars or floors. To apply the polish, use a clean and soft cloth, and cover the skylight evenly. Following this, buff the area and use a clean and damp cloth to wipe the skylight and remove any static that has accumulated.

Cleaning a Glass Skylight


source: Flickr, Travis Estell

If your skylight is glass rather than plastic, the cleaning and polishing methods will vary. The glass must be cleaned with a glass cleaner or a weak solution of water, detergent or soap. Using a sponge or squeegee, apply the solution, then rinse with clear water following each swipe of the skylight.

Use a paper towel, a clean cloth or a chamois to dry off the glass. Pay special attention to avoid touching any metal cleaning equipment to the glass, or letting any abrasive materials be dragged across the surface of the glass. The glass skylight's surface is very sensitive and needs to be treated as such. 

The type of skylight The tools and materials you need
Plastic skylight
  • a mild detergent or a mixture of water and mild soap
  • a cellulose sponge or a soft cloth
  • a chamois cloth
  • a polishing agent or wax specifically designed for automobiles or floors
  • methanol, kerosene, hexane or naphtha (for an acrylic skylight)
  • isopropyl alcohol or naphtha (for a polycarbonate skylight)
Glass skylight
  • a glass cleaner or a less concentrated solution of water, detergent and soap
  • a sponge or a squeegee
  • a clean cloth, a chamois cloth or a paper towel
Plastic or glass skylight
  • some towels or a plastic cloth
  • a ladder
  • a more powerful cleaner or ammonia/vinegar (if needed for a particularly dirty skylight)

Do you need more information about the different models of skylights? Check out our article on the subject!

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