Cleaning Tips, Guides & Resources

The Safest Method to Clean Light Switches and Electrical Coverings

how to clean light switches custom graphic

When you think about bacteria around the house or what and where the ‘germiest’ places in your home are, your mind immediately goes to the obvious – bathrooms, toilet bowls, the kitchen sink, the floor, etc. While that’s not inaccurate, there are some areas/surfaces that are crawling with bacteria and yet, are often overlooked due to their size. One such hotspot for bacteria in the home is the light switch, including the electrical covering around it. 

Why Cleaning & Sanitising is Important

person wiping down light switches with white disinfectant cloth

As insignificant as it may seem, the truth is that germs present on your light switches and electrical coverings can carry contagious viruses which are transferred to humans with just a touch. What’s more, considering their overall daily usage, you can only imagine how dirty and contaminated these surfaces are! 

Although bacteria isn’t visible to the naked eye, regular sanitisation of your switches and switchboards is necessary. On the other hand, dirt and discolouration are clear indications that these frequently-touched surfaces need a deep clean to restore them to their original appearance and, more importantly, make them sanitary again! Particularly in high-traffic rooms or locations where the outlet is prone to grease and grime (eg; kitchens and bathrooms), it is important to apply a thorough cleaning method sooner than later to prevent permanent discolouration.

If you are unsure of how to clean the light switches and electrical coverings in your house, there is a very systematic and careful approach to going about this in a safe and efficient manner. Luckily, MaidForYou is here to share that with you today! Read on. 

Things You’ll Need

two green bottles of cleaning liquid on a table surrounded by clean microfibre cloths and green gloves

To clean outlet covers and light switches, all you need are the following items:

  • Screwdriver (flathead or crosshead depending on the outlet screws)
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Disinfectant spray
  • Old toothbrush or paint brush
  • Scrubber
  • Paper towels/microfibre dust cloths
  • Basin
  • Dry towel(s)

With the items above rounded up, you are ready to begin the cleaning process!

Step-by-Step Guide to Clean Light Switches + Electrical Coverings

front view of person wiping down light switches with a disinfectant cloth

When it comes to cleaning anything related or connected to electricity, there is always potential danger involved. Therefore, it is critically important to follow a structured and well-thought-out step-by-step guide to safely clean electrical covers and light switches – just like this one from MaidForYou! Take a look below.

Step 1: Follow Safety Protocol

Before the cleaning can commence, safety measures must be taken to ensure that there is no risk of getting shocked/electrocuted during the process. This can be achieved by turning off the main power supply to your home at the circuit breaker. Considering that the house will lose power for a bit, it makes sense to pick an earlier time in the day to do this so that you can work efficiently in natural light. Bear in mind that this may cause some inconvenience to other household members; therefore, cleaning outlet covers and switches should be pre-planned accordingly.

Once the power has been shut off, go around the house and try switching on lights and fans to check if the electricity has indeed been cut off. When you’ve got the all-clear, proceed to the next step.

Step 2: Unscrew the Covers

For an everyday wipe down, there is no need to remove the electrical covering over your light switches, however, to clean out crevices and scrub away stains or dirt, it helps a great deal to have the cover in your hands. 

Taking down the electrical covering is a straightforward task – simply unscrew all sides of the plate, and gently pull the covering away from the wall. Be sure to gather up the screws from each outlet, and keep in separate bowls to avoid misplacing or mixing them up. 

Step 3: Remove Dust

Along with the exterior, dust tends to accumulate inside the electrical covering (through the narrowest of gaps between the wall and cover). So, before you can scrub the plastic cover to remove stubborn grime, wipe off the dust from both sides.

At this stage, you will need to use either a toothbrush or paint brush to knock off dust from narrow spaces and crevices. If you are unable to remove dust from some tight spaces, hold the piece under running water and allow the pressure of the waterflow to rinse it out.

Step 4: Soak Coverings, Disinfect Switches

In a basin of warm water, mix in 1-2 teaspoons of dishwashing liquid, and stir it up to create a soapy solution. Soak the electrical covering(s) in this cleaning solution for 10-15 minutes to break down dirt and stains/discolouration.

While the outlet covers are soaking, use this time to clean and disinfect the light switches. The safest way to do this is with a paper towel or microfibre cloth dampened with a disinfectant cleaner. A helpful tip to clean and disinfect switches safely is to wrap the damp cleaning tool around your finger, and gently scrub each switch individually. 

WARNING: Do not spray light switches directly with disinfectants or liquid cleaning solutions as it can damage the wiring inside.

Step 5: Scrub & Dry Electrical Coverings

Dip a soft scrubber in the cleaning solution that your electrical coverings have been soaking in, and use it to scrub each one individually. By now, the dirt and grime will be a breeze to remove thanks to the soaking time. 

Once you are satisfied with the clean, rinse off the outlet covers under running water. Next, shake off excess water before you wipe each covering with a dry towel, and then set them aside to air out and dry completely. Only when you are sure that the electrical coverings are dry and free of moisture should you fit them over their respective outlets, and screw them on securely.

Now that the job is complete, the last thing you need to do is to turn the power back on! And remember, you should disinfect your light switches and electrical coverings regularly, if not daily, to keep these overlooked surfaces clean and sanitary, and minimise the spread of potential viruses in your house.

Adriana Aziz is the operations manager at MaidForYou. With over 6 years of experience managing cleaning operations, she knows all the best hacks when it comes to cleaning residential and commercial buildings. With expert experience in managing house cleaning operations, interior design and logistics. She spends her free time with her family and as a freelance food critic.

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