How to Clean Outdoor Light Fixtures

How to Clean Outdoor Light Fixtures

Did you know that the recommended lighting level for outdoor activities and safety is 45 lumens per square yard? For reference, that’s the same level as a bright dining room. A typical entranceway lighting fixture is bright enough to read an address, but not to read a book.

Dust, dirt, and bugs can reduce light output by more than half if allowed to build up. Regular cleaning is needed to maintain brightness. Some lighting systems have lenses that need special care.

Materials such as plastic and acrylic scratch easily and can yellow. On top of that, you are probably doing your cleaning on a high ladder. If you are wondering how to clean outdoor light fixtures for your San Diego home, here are a few tips.


Autumn and Spring Cleaning 

Before launching into the instructions for how to clean outdoor light fixtures, a small safety reminder to turn off the power to your lights at the circuit breaker before you begin.

Twice a year cleaning and maintenance prolongs the life and appearance of your outdoor light fixtures. Much like your automobile headlights, dirt, grime, and oxidization take their toll. No special equipment is needed, just some time and care to not mix water and electricity.

  1. Turn off the light switch and check the breakers.
  2. Secure the correct size ladder if your fixtures are off the ground.
  3. Prepare a bucket large enough to submerge the globe or cover with warm water and dish soap. A small amount of white vinegar will help.
  4. Remove the globe, guard, or grill with the right tool, typically a screwdriver then the bulb.
  5. Set these aside, an old egg carton or muffin tin works wonders to keep screws and bulbs organized.
  6. Use a rag dipped in the soapy water and wring out to wipe down the parts of the fixture that cannot be soaked. Do not drip water into the electrical sockets, and rinse well.
  7. Wipe the screws clean and spray with a silicone lubricant.
  8. Wipe the bulb clean.
  9. Rinse and dry the globe and re-assemble.

Repeat this process for each fixture. Check the weatherproof gaskets, if any. When finished, switch the circuit breaker back to the on position and switch the light on.

Special Notes

You may wish to use paste wax or metal polish on the fixtures to protect them from the elements and keep them pristine. If your globes are made of glass, a professional glass cleaner with ammonia works well.

Remove hard water stains and calcification promptly. Fixtures fully exposed to the elements may need a once-over each month. Do not use glass cleaners on acrylic or plastic. It can fog or dull the finish.

Consider adjusting your timer at the same time you clean your fixtures. That way your lighting stays in sync with sunset.

How to Clean Outdoor Light Fixtures (Solar Version)

To clean your solar light fixtures you need a lot of the same equipment. Add a soft brush to your toolkit for the tough grime. Solar fixtures should get a quick wipe down once a month, and a thorough cleaning twice a year.

Solar fixtures have three parts to clean.  Disassemble your lights to clean them. Dry them completely inside and out before reassembly.

  1. Globe or Light Cover: Follow the same procedure as above. Cloudy plastic or acrylic can be cleaned with a small amount of toothpaste or automobile headlight restorer. Just rinse well.
  2. Solar panels: Solar panels are protected by a clear plastic cover.  Dust and dirt can obscure the panel and prevent charging. A wipe with a damp cloth to remove buildup and a monthly adjustment of the panel to the sun’s angle keeps your panels charging at maximum efficiency.
  3. Battery Packs: Moisture buildup within the housing can oxidize batteries and connections. Keep your solar lights sheltered for longest life. Use a soft brush to remove oxidization and restore clean contacts.

If your solar fixtures include a weatherproof gasket, make sure it is intact when you reassemble your lights. Even high-quality solar lights have a short lifespan. Plastics cloud and batteries fail after a few years at most.

Choose the Right Materials for Outdoor Lighting at Your San Diego Home

Even with proper care and maintenance, lighting fixtures made of poor quality materials will not last. Choose heavy-duty glass, weatherproof metals, and quality wiring. Even the most carefully designed lighting scheme looks horrible if the lights are missing or dim.

Placement makes a difference too. Regularly brush away leaves and debris. Keep creeping vines and groundcover well away from your garden lights. Not many lights can stand up to a regular beating by a weed trimmer!

Proper installation is the key to maintaining your landscape lighting design.  Spotlights in out-of-the-way or inaccessible areas need durable materials and wiring for reliability. This is especially important for pool and water feature lights, as water and electricity don’t mix well.

Learn More from the Experts

We offer San Diego the finest lighting services for exterior and interior systems. Our experts have more than 25 years of experience in lighting design and installation. We only use durable, functional, high-quality products.

We stand behind our work and offer a lifetime warranty on our fixtures and transformers. We even offer an unheard of three-year warranty on our bulbs. If our explanation of how to clean outdoor light fixtures sounds like too much work, we can help with that too.

We offer a twice-yearly maintenance and tuning visit to service our installations. Severed wires, hard-water build up or overgrowth are corrected.  Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you light up your landscape.



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