How to Clean Outlet Wall Plates

These covers see quite a lot of action, like finger smudges and dirt.

clean wall plate electrical outlet
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Whether you are getting ready to give your house a deep clean or simply tending to a few neglected areas, disinfecting your electrical outlet covers should be on your homekeeping list. According to Chris Janiak, a home care expert at Hippo, these hotspots can be petri dishes for germs from dirty hands; dust, debris, and fingerprints are also regularly found on their surfaces. Washing these covers, however, can be dangerous if you don't take the necessary precautions. Ahead, discover how to (carefully) restore these light switch plates to their original glory, courtesy of Janiak.

Cut the power.

When cleaning your electrical outlet covers, the very best way to prevent a serious accident is by stopping the flow of electricity to the outlet. To do so, Janiak says to open your fuse box. "Find the specific switch or outlet you're looking to clean and flip it to the off position," he says. "Once the power has been shut off, it should be safe to remove the plate cover." Then, using a flathead screwdriver, take the plate off the wall.

Identify the plate's material and clean accordingly.

As you remove the piece, Janiak says to note its material. While nylon, acrylic, or plastic iterations can be washed in warm, soapy water (soak them for 30 minutes to an hour, he shares), other types require more careful cleansing. Metal pieces should be polished up with a stainless-steel disinfectant; brass should be handled particularly carefully (use polish designed for the material after you spritz on a bacteria killer); and wood options need to be sealed with a protectant after they are cleaned (a traditional disinfectant formula is safe to use, adds Janiak). Steel plates are arguably the most resilient, notes Janiak, though they show the most fingerprints: Rinse them with a sanitizer and water to remove those smudges and then let them dry thoroughly to prevent rust.

Establish a cleaning schedule.

After you completely dry your outlet plates and ensure there is no remaining water residue, re-attach them to the wall and restore the flow of power. According to Janiak, once you finish this task, you can likely forget about it for a full 12 months: "Hippo recommends cleaning your outlet wall plates at least once a year, especially during cold and flu season," he says.

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