Skylight Care and Cleaning

Lead Image
  • 1-2 hours
  • Beginner
  • 15-100
What You'll Need
Mild soap or detergent
Drill (optional)
Silocone sealant (optional)
Hexane, naphtha, kerosene, or methanol (optional)
Isopropyl alcohol or butyl cellosolve (optional)
Automobile cleaner polish (optional)
Automobile polish or floor/automobile wax (optional)

A skylight is a lovely addition to any room. It is a great way to bring in natural sunlight, and to stargaze from the comfort of your home. However, these beauties need their own cleaning and care.

Taking Care of Your Skylight

Once they're installed, skylights require only a minimum of maintenance and cleaning. Because of their shape, slope and location, heavy rains wash away most of the dirt. Occasionally, you'll need to clean the inside — and the outside, too, if the rain doesn't do the job.

Caring for the Frame

Most skylight frames are made of aluminum (colored ones are anodized) and require no care other than washing when you clean the skylight glazing. If you live by the ocean where the sail from the spray can eat into aluminum, you'll have to protect the frame with paint. If your skylight frame has a painted metal finish, check it annually, touching up any bare spots with a paint recommended by the manufacturer.

Protecting and Preserving Plastic

Acrylic and polycarbonate are the two types of plastic generally used in skylights. The cleaning and repair suggestions below apply to acrylic and, for the most part, to polycarbonate.

If your skylight is made from fiberglass, follow the manufacturers' instructions for proper care of the glazing.

Cleaning Plastics

Plastic glazing is susceptible to scratches and abrasions, as well as to damage by certain solvents. You'll want to observe some general precautions when cleaning a plastic skylight:

  • Never use abrasive cleansers, abrasive pads, or gritty cloths.
  • Do not remove dirty by scraping with a sharp tool, such as a razor blade, or putty knife.
  • Do not clean with window cleaning fluids or strong solvents such as gasoline, denatured alcohol, carbon tetrachloride, or acetone. They will cause the plastic to craze with minute cracks.

To clean a plastic skylight, use either a solution of mild soap or detergent and water or a weak solution of household ammonia and water (do not use ammonia for polycarbonates). Apply a soft cloth or cellulose sponge and rinse well with clear water. To prevent water spots, blot dry with a chamois or a damp cellulose sponge.

To remove foreign material (protective paper, glazing compound, caulking, roofing tar, grease, or fresh oil paint) from acrylic, use hexane, a good grade of naphtha, kerosene, or methanol applied with a soft cloth. Use a good grade of naphtha, isopropyl alcohol, or butyl cellosolve on polycarbonate domes. Then clean the skylight as described above.

Protecting Plastic

To maintain the luster of plastic, protect it with a thin, even coat of automobile polish (not cleaner polish), or floor or automobile wax applied with a clean, soft cloth. Buff lightly and wipe with a clean, damp cloth to remove static electricity, which attracts dirt.

Plastic Repair

You can minimize or remove minor scratches and abrasions from plastic, and often control cracks.

Minor scratches and abrasions can sometimes be obscured with automobile wax applied as described above. If this method doesn't work, try polishing the scratched area of the plastic with a good grade of automobile cleaner polish on a soft cloth. The fine abrasive in the cleaner polish will smooth the scratches, and the wax in the polish fills them, reducing their visibility.

Major scratches should be repaired by a knowledgeable professional.

Cracks can be kept from lengthening — drill a 1/8-inch diameter hole at each end of the crack and fill the holes with silicone sealant.

Looking after Glass

You can clean clear or coated glass either with commercial glass cleaning solutions or with a weak solution of household ammonia, mild soap, or detergent (if rinsed thoroughly) and water. Apply with a sponge and dry with paper towels, a chamois, or, if the glass is flat, a squeegee.

To prevent scratches, abrasions, and deterioration, never clean coated, sun-control glass with abrasive cleansers, gritty sponges, or metal objects such as razor blades or putty knives.

Your skylight will stay in good condition for years with these cleaning and care tips. The stars will be as clear as ever!