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How to Clean Your Light Switches

It's one of the dirtiest spots in your home.

switching on the light
Photography by: Getty

When we clean our homes, we typically hit all the major spots: windows, floors, and appliances. But we often overlook these little nooks and crannies that can collect dirt and grime, such as light switches. You may not realize it, but this small surface area is one of the dirtiest places in your home according to Health Line. After all, hands make contact with them repeatedly throughout the day, depositing a new layer of germs with each touch. "Because finger oils will soil switches, receptacles, and wall plates, they will need to be cleaned periodically," explains David Sigmund, who teaches at Stark State College and retired from a long-time career as a steel mill reliability electrician. 

 

So, how do you clear your light switches of grit and grime, seen and unseen? Follow our quick how-to and this task is made easy.

 

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One of the most important things to keep in mind is that light switches are electrical. Proper cleaning of light switches is vital to ensure that you and your home are safe. Sigmund advises against spraying any liquid solution directly onto the light switch or socket. "Almost all solutions will conduct electricity," he says. "If the fluid should find its way into the device in any concentration, it could cause an electrical short circuit."

 

"The best way to do this is to start with a soft cloth and dampen it with either water, or better yet, a liquid cleaner, such as Mr. Clean or 409," says Sigmund. "Do not soak the cloth." Once you have dampened the cloth in cleaning solution, you can begin wiping the light switch cover to remove germs and grime. Clean the switch toggle, receptacle face, and wall plate. And you won't have to worry about electrical shock while cleaning the light switches in this way, because "the cleaning solution will not come in contact with any electrically charged components." This chore should be part of your regular cleaning routine at least once a week—or daily if there's an illness in the house. 

 

If a gentle wiping down isn't enough, you can always remove the wall plates. Turn off the electricity for safety and unscrew the wall plates from the light switch socket. Wash the plates in soapy water, rinse thoroughly, and dry completely before screwing it back onto the light switch. Make sure that it is all the way dry to prevent liquid drops from touching the electrical components inside.