Spring Cleaning

Take 20 Minutes Today to Clean the Dirtiest Spot in Your Home

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Cathy Pyle)

Your floors, counters and tabletops get their fair share of attention — they’re likely the first places you clean any time you work to make your home a tidier place. And no wonder: They’re big areas that collect visible clutter and dirt. But if the cleanliness of your home were one of those maps where states or countries are distorted and re-sized based on a staggering statistic, you might see things a bit differently. For one, your switchplates would take up a whole lot more room.

Think about it: You (and everyone you live with) touch the light switches in your home several times a day. They’re likely harboring more germs than some of your kitchen tools, but they get cleaned far less. Today, we fix that!


Clean Your Switchplates and Outlet Covers

You can handle this one of two ways — choose whatever seems better and more fun for you right now:

Collect and Conquer: If your switchplates are plastic, aluminum or steel (not painted, plated or enameled), they can go in the dishwasher to get cleaned and sanitized. Grab a screwdriver and walk around removing and collecting the covers from light switches and outlets. You’ll know if you need to keep track of which goes where, but most likely, you’re working with standard, interchangeable plates. Once you’ve gathered all your goods, run them in a normal cycle in the dishwasher. Then make sure they’re completely dry before putting them back on the wall.

Here’s a Tip: Once you’ve removed the cover, screw the screws back into place on the (bare) switch. It makes it easier to keep track of them.

Wash-up Walkabout: If you’re living the hand wash life, or you have delicate or painted switchplates, you can clean your covers right where they are. Grab your favorite disinfecting spray — a half and half mix of vinegar and water works perfectly — and a microfiber cloth (or, alternately some pre-moistened disinfecting wipes) and pick a place to start. Spray the cleaner directly onto the cloth (not the plates) and wipe each cover, taking special care not to get any of your cleaning solution inside the switch or outlets. If you need to clean in and around intricate details, just use a cotton swab!

If you have a mix of painted and not-painted switchplates, I would go with the walkabout approach to keep things simple, though you could just as easily mix and match your methods.

If you’re blessed with a large home and lots of outlets, feel free to just focus on the light switch covers today — or whatever spots that see the most action.