Spring Cleaning: Greenhouse Polycarbonate Glazing
By Denise Rue-Pastin, Ph.D.
Unfortunately, Coronavirus, COVID-19, and Pandemic are terms with which we have become all too familiar. It is a scary time of heightened health concerns related to germs and personal hygiene. In eras like these, we remind Growing Spaces greenhouse owners about the importance of maintaining clean, sanitized domes, of which this writing focuses on cleaning the interior polycarbonate panels.
Winter or early spring is a great time to clean your panels as vegetation is generally reduced, allowing easy access to the polycarbonate surfaces. According to Claudia Stover, long-time Growing Spaces dome owner and greenhouse gardening teacher, not only does regular cleaning of the polycarbonate panels increase the sanitation of the greenhouse but “keeping the dome panels clear of pollen and plant debris also helps reduce disease and pest pressure on your plants.”
Stover’s great smelling product of choice is the all-natural, essential oils infused Thieves® Household Cleaner (1) diluted with warm water at a 1:200 dilution. Other cleaners, including mild dishwashing detergent, will also work, but do not use abrasive or high alkaline cleaners. In the interest of full disclosure, a distributor of the manufacturer’s (Gallina USA) polycarbonate panels, A&C Plastics, lists the agents below as approved for use at room temperature, though suggests not applying in direct sunlight:
• Butyl alcohol
• Ethyl alcohol
• Isopropyl alcohol
• Methyl alcohol
• Petroleum ether (BP 65°)
• VM&P Naphtha
As a gardener for Growing Spaces for a number of years, my cleaning tools of choice were a squeegee sponge mop with self-wringing handle, plus a bucket of very warm Thieves® water, again remembering to use an economical 1:200 dilution. A soft cloth or hand sponge will also do the trick, while also aiding in hard-to-reach areas such as corners. After cleaning, A&C recommends that all surfaces should then be rinsed with cold water and dried with a soft cotton cloth to reduce water spotting.
While the prospect of cleaning your Growing Spaces® greenhouse panels may sound daunting, the task is surprisingly quick and easy. Once complete, sit back and relax in your beautiful, cleansed surroundings taking in the fresh smells and feeling of your safe and sanitized garden space. Enjoy and be well!
*(1) Interestingly, Thieves® was inspired by the legend of four 15th-century French thieves who formulated and wore a special aromatic combination of clove, rosemary, and other botanicals. It is available anywhere natural cleaners are sold and on Amazon.
Pastin is CEO of Environmental Dimensions (est. 2002), an environmental consulting firm. In addition to Growing Spaces, clients have included the San Juan Water Conservancy District (2016-2019), Southwestern Water Conservation District (2006-2016), and Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District (2002-2009). Additional work included more than a decade as a consultant for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Western Area Power Administration Conservation and Renewable Energy Program, as well as their Biomass Program. Rue-Pastin is a Master Gardener, and founder and chair of the Southwest Organization for Sustainability, a 501(c)3 environmental advocacy group established in 2006. Besides gardening, she enjoys skiing and research/writing.