How to Clean & Fix Cloudy Solar Cell Plastic

Solar cell lights are placed along walkways, gardens and driveways to provide guide lighting and to enhance the aesthetics of the landscaping. Lights are positioned to receive direct sunlight during the day to charge an internal battery that powers the light during darkness. The clear plastic housing protects the solar cell, but is exposed to the elements and ultraviolet damage from the sun. Restore clarity to your solar lights by removing a thin layer of plastic to remove the cloudiness on the light. Clear lights allow more sunlight in for charging and shine brighter at night.

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Untreated plastics degrade when exposed to UV sunlight.

Step 1

Clean the plastic surface with soap and water. Wash away any tree sap, bird droppings or grime on the surface. Dry thoroughly to remove any soapy residue.

Step 2

Wet-sand the plastic surface with 600-grit sandpaper. Wet-sanding requires using water to keep the sandpaper free of sanding dust. Pour water over the sandpaper and light every 5 to 10 seconds to keep the sandpaper free of clogs. Sand the surface in a circular motion until the damaged outer layer is removed. The plastic will have a dull sheen as a result of sanding.

Step 3

Wash and dry the solar light again to remove any sanding dust. Wet-sand the surface with 1,200-grit sandpaper to remove the dull sheen left by the 600-grit sanding process. Wash and dry the surface.

Step 4

Polish the plastic with a car wax containing UV blockers. Rub the car wax onto the plastic surface then wipe the residue away. Buff with a cloth to a high shine. The UV blockers in the car wax protect the plastic from clouding during exposure to the sun. The car wax does not prevent the operation of the solar cell.