HomeMaintenance

How to Clean Your Light Switches

Even people who deep clean their houses several times a year can miss spots occasionally, and there are some bits and pieces that are easy to overlook. The light switches tend to be one of these areas that are easy to skip, which is not a good thing because the many hands and fingers that touch these every day can leave behind dirt, oils, and germs and even unused switches will gather dust.

Light switches are spread throughout the house. Not only will you find them in bedrooms, bathrooms, and family spaces, but they are also often found in closets, garages, and other more hidden spots. 

Because light switches are wired into electricity, certain methods of cleaning can be dangerous. You could flip the main breaker and shut off all electricity before cleaning the switches, but if you are careful, this is not required. 

You should never, ever spray cleaning fluid onto the light switch. This can get into the electric wiring and short it out or cause a fire. The best option is to put a little cleaning fluid on a soft cloth and wipe the switch thoroughly. If further cleaning is needed for the wall plate, it can be removed and cleaned, away from the electrical wiring, with soap and water. The electricity to that switch should be turned off by flipping the breaker or removing the fuse for that room before removing the plate. Be sure it is dry completely before reinstalling the plate and turning the power back on.

Another possibility is to use cleaning wipes. These come pre-moistened with cleaning fluid and can be antibacterial or just simple cleaner. Sponges, well wrung out, or foam magic cleaning sponges are also good options for quick cleaning. If your switch or plate has crevices or texture, removing it and using an old toothbrush or a cotton swab can be the most effective method to clean it thoroughly.

While glass cleaner or all-purpose cleaner work fine for this task, it is also possible (and likely less expensive) to mix together your own cleaning solution from 2 parts white vinegar, 1 part rubbing alcohol, and 1 part hydrogen peroxide. A few drops of some essential oil can add a pleasant scent to this mixture, which will then be left behind on the surfaces cleaned. Adding a few drops of tea tree oil will also render the mixture disinfectant. 

After cleaning, dry the switch with a soft cloth; a damp surface gathers more dust and dirt than a dry surface will. 

Some grime or stains may require specialized cleaning. For example, if your youngster has discovered markers and labeled the switch with his artwork, this can be removed with rubbing alcohol. Grease and ball-point ink can be removed with, believe it or not, a slice of white bread. Crayon marks can be removed with toothpaste or by ironing a sheet of brown paper on it (which will soak up the wax) and a warm iron. 

Suggested Resources

It is likely that you already have what you need to clean your light switches, but just in case you do not, here are some items that you may find useful.

Cleaners

Product
Visual
Where to Buy

Mr. Clean Multi-Surface Cleaner

Clorox Clean-Up with Bleach

Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Multi-Surface Cleaner

Mr. Clean Multi-Surface Cleaner

With a scent of meadows and rain, this multi-purpose cleaner has Febreze included to remove unpleasant odors. 

Clorox Clean-Up with Bleach

This will disinfect the switches and restore brightness to white switchplates. Use caution, however, as the bleach could also affect clothing if it oversprays and will affect your cleaning cloths if they are not already white.

Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Multi-Surface Cleaner

Fresh lavender scent and cruelty free, Mrs. Meyer’s cleaner is good for all sorts of surfaces. Refresh, remove odors, and clean the whole house. 

Sponges, Cloths, and Tools

Product
Visual
Where to Buy

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser

Microfiber Cleaning Cloths

Assorted Microfiber Cleaning Cloths

Deep Clean Brushes

Plastic Spray Bottle

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser

These Durafoam sponges remove dirt from all kinds of surfaces, including light switches, even if they are textured. 

Microfiber Cleaning Cloths

24 soft microfiber cloths are perfect for cleaning and drying throughout your home. 

Assorted Microfiber Cleaning Cloths

A box of 50 cloths includes 10 of each of 5 colors. These large cloths (11.5” x 11.5”) are soft and durable. 

Deep Clean Brushes

Two sizes of brush will allow cleaning of textured areas in all types of surfaces. A wiper blade on the smaller brush will clean out crevices. 

Plastic Spray Bottle

If you desire to make your own cleaner, these adjustable-nozzle spray bottles will be the perfect way to store and use it. Add these ingredients: 

Wipes

Product
Visual
Where to Buy

Clorox Disinfecting Wipes

Lysol Disinfecting Wipes

Green Works Compostable Wipes

Tub O Towels Heavy Duty Cleaning Wipes

Clorox Disinfecting Wipes

Quick and easy, disinfecting wipes will speed up the time to clean your light switches so much, you will even have time to take care of the doorknobs at the same time!

Lysol Disinfecting Wipes

Long the top name in disinfecting, Lysol’s wipes kill germs and remove allergens with a convenient wipe. Lemon and lime add a fresh scent to the cleaning process.

Green Works Compostable Wipes

Fresh scented green wipes reduce germs and then reduce waste. No harsh chemical fumes or residue will be left behind when using these wipes. 

Tub O Towels Heavy Duty Cleaning Wipes

Large 10” x 12” wipes are strong and provide waterless cleaning for nearly all surfaces. These are meant to remove stains including grease, ink, wax, food, nail polish, and all kinds of other stains, making it ideal for light switches no matter what you might find on them.

Whatever method you choose to use to clean your light switches, it is a good idea to add them to your cleaning routine at least two or three times a year, and more often if the people in your home develop a contagious illness, to keep it from spreading. 

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