How To Clean Dirty Skylights

Skylights are a great addition to a home. They let in mood-boosting natural light, fresh air to ventilate the room, and look great. They also increase the value of your home.

The problem is, as with all windows, skylights eventually get grubby and can be difficult to clean, particularly if they’re in a hard-to-reach spot. In this article, we’ll provide step-by-step instructions on how to clean dirty skylights, so that you can restore them to their former translucent glory.

What you’ll need

  • Bucket
  • Soap and water
  • Rag
  • Sponge
  • Ladder
  • Towel
  • If stubborn grime remains:
    • White vinegar
    • Tarp or towels
  • If the skylight is out of reach:
    • A long handle such as a broom or mop
    • String
  • If you need to walk on your roof to reach the skylights:
    • Non-slip shoes with good traction
    • A safety harness that attaches to a secured anchor point on the roof

So, how do you clean skylights? There’s two parts: the inside, and the outside.

Cleaning the inside of your skylights

Cleaning the inside of your dirty skylights is the easiest and safest part of the job. You’ll need to complete the following steps:

1. Create your cleaning solution

In a bucket, mix a few drops of dish soap and water. Don’t use a soap that contains ammonia or other chemicals, as they have a tendency to damage the film that sits on glass skylights.

2. Position your ladder, or create a cleaning stick

If you have a ladder handy, set it up underneath the skylight so that you can easily reach them. If you don’t have a ladder, you can create a long cleaning stick by doing the following:

  • Detach the handle of a mop or brush.
  • Tie an old rag around the end of the handle, securing it with a piece of string

3. Clean the skylight

Before soaking your rag in the cleaning solution, wipe away any dust and cobwebs from the skylight, and give it a good shake and bash when you’re done.

Next, soak the rag in your cleaning solution, and wring it out with your hands to get rid of the excess moisture. Now you can clean the skylight as you would a window.

If soap and water didn’t do the trick, you’ll need something stronger. Mix 100ml of white vinegar in around 4L of water in a separate bucket, and try re-cleaning the skylight. If grime is failing to come off, try adding more vinegar.

For this step, to prevent vinegar from soaking into your furniture or flooring, it’s recommended to move nearby furniture to a safe spot, and lay down a tarp or towels.

4. Dry the skylight

Dry the skylight with a mop or towel. If you’re using a cleaning stick, you’ll need to replace the wet rag with a dry one. 

Cleaning the outside of your skylights (how to clean skylights on roof)

Cleaning the outside of your dirty skylights can be dangerous, especially if they’re in a position that requires you to walk across the roof. If this is the case, we strongly recommend hiring a skylight window cleaning professional for the job, but if you want to give it a crack yourself, we’ve provided instructions for both scenarios.

If you need to walk across your roof to reach your skylights, you’ll need the following safety equipment:

  • Non-slip shoes that have good traction, so that you can tread safely while cleaning (no rubber thongs, please)
  • A sturdy ladder for getting up to the roof
  • A safety harness that attaches to a secured anchor point on the roof

Here is the best way to clean outside skylights.

1. Position the ladder 

Position the ladder directly underneath the skylights, making sure that it’s on even, non-slippery ground. Before climbing, give the ladder a shake to check its sturdiness.

2. Clean the skylight

If you’re walking across the roof, attach your safety harness to the anchor point on the roof before completing this step.

With the skylight closed, wipe the glass with a dry towel to remove any excess dust, dirt, and cobwebs. Then return to the ground, dip a sponge into your soapy cleaning solution, and clean the skylight thoroughly. Don’t use the abrasive side of the sponge, as it can damage the window. If you need a cleaning stick to reach the skylights, you can use a rag instead of a sponge.

As before, if your soap solution won’t shift the stubborn grime, try your vinegar solution instead.

3. Rinse the skylight

Use a hose to rinse the skylight, preferably with a higher-pressure jet setting.

Skylights are a great addition to the home, but they can be a pain to clean. We hope that this article has given you a better idea of what you need to do to restore your skylights to their former glory.