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Cleaning Your Light Switch Covers the Right Way

Light Switch Covers Cleaning Kit

You may not include cleaning your switch covers and outlet wallplates on your routine to-do list, but you probably should. Switches, switch covers, and wall plates are an often-overlooked site for the accumulation of germs. Consider how many times a day that the average light switch is touched by a variety of people, and it’s easy to see why light switches and outlet covers can become some of the dirtiest surfaces in your household or place of business.

That’s why it’s important that you clean them regularly, especially during cold and flu season when clean surfaces can be the difference between dodging illness or spending a miserable week in bed out of commission. But to properly clean your switch outlet covers and wall outlet covers, you need to be thorough yet careful given the potential dangers of working around electrical current. Fortunately, it’s not hard to sanitize and aesthetically polish the appearance of your wallplates and keep them looking immaculate. Keep reading to learn the right way to properly clean your switch covers and outlet covers to prevent the spread of germs and keep them looking new.

Remove Your Covers

While it may be tempting to take a shortcut when it comes to cleaning your covers by spraying them in place, there are several reasons that it’s better to remove them prior to cleaning. First, some harsh spray cleaners can damage the surrounding paint and wall material, so you’ll want to avoid overspray by putting the spray bottle away. Also, given the potential danger of allowing chemicals to come in contact with open electrical circuits, you should never spray a switch cover that is still mounted to the wall. The only way to safely and thoroughly clean your switch and outlet covers is by removing them from the switch carefully after turning off power to the outlet or switch at the breaker box.

Identify the Cover Material

Since specific cleaning methods will vary depending on the material from which your cover is made, it’s important to identify the switch and outlet cover material. Most switch covers are made of plastic, nylon, or acrylic. Others, however, may be made of metals such as steel, silver or brass. There are also exotic wood switch covers that require special care. With the advancements in resin casting, there are also ornate switch covers made exclusively from resin.

Cleaning Plastic, Nylon, and Acrylic

To clean plastic, nylon, or acrylic switch covers, simply fill your sink with warm soapy water. Immerse the covers in the water and allow them to sit for about an hour. After they have soaked adequately, use a rag or sponge to wipe them down to move fingerprints and spots. If they have stuck-on material that is difficult to remove, you may want to employ a brush to scrub away tough stains. Once they are cleaned to your satisfaction, remove them from the sink and wipe them down. It’s a good idea to let them air dry for a few minutes as well before reinstalling them on your switches and outlets.

Cleaning Metals

If you have metal switch and outlet covers, there are different steps you should use to clean your covers. To sanitize them, spray a light layer of disinfectant on a rag and wipe the cover surface down. Test a little of the cleaner on the wall side of the switch first, however, to make sure it won’t cause discoloration of the metal. When cleaning metal covers, you should avoid submerging them. Instead, you should employ a metal polish appropriate for the kind of metal used to make them. Silver wall plates can be cleansed with standard silver polish. Brass polish should be used on brass plates. Steel is more resilient, but if it’s painted steel, be sure you don’t use an abrasive cleaner that will scratch or remove the paint.

Cleaning Wood

Wood shouldn’t be submerged, and harsh abrasives and cleaners should likewise be avoided. After removing the covers, wipe them down with a sanitizer. Again, test the sanitizer on the back of the cover for colorfastness before spraying the entire cover. Then, to draw out the rich tones of your wood covers, use furniture polish or wood oil to restore the natural beauty of the wood before replacing them on the walls.


Once your wallplates are clean, all that’s left to do is reinstall them. With the power to the outlet still turned off, simply put the switch covers back in their appropriate locations and screw them in. Once you’ve completed the re-installation of all covers on the circuit, flip the breaker back on to restore power.

Cleaning your switch covers and outlet covers is a necessity, and fortunately it’s a simple task. To learn more about the right way to clean your outlet and switch covers, visit Wallplate Warehouse at

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