In an effort to stay healthy and keep your home tidy, you’ve probably increased your cleaning frequency since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. To help limit the spread of germs, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends regular cleaning of high-touch surfaces. Tabletops, desks, vanities, faucets and door handles often make this list, but two things that are touched frequently throughout the day are often forgotten during cleaning: light switches and wallplates.
Hidden dangers that we’re now much more aware of such as bacteria and dangerous pathogens can build up on these surfaces, transfer to hands when touched and end up redistributed throughout the home. Therefore, to help keep your home healthy, you should take steps to regularly and properly keep light switches and wallplates clean.
However, in our effort to eliminate buildup on switches and wallplates, many opt to use common household disinfectants with chemical agents. These substances may cause more harm than good to the switch or wallplate because certain cleaning agents can interfere with the electrical components, leading to safety issues, or cause damage to the surface area of the wallplate. If during cleaning you notice any irregularities on your switches or wallplates, such as cracking or discoloration, replace them immediately.
Because of the connection to an electrical source, it’s important to clean light switches and wallplates in a safe manner. Liquid and electricity don’t mix. You should never spray or wipe a detergent or disinfectant solution directly on light switches, outlets, dimmers, USB charger outlets or wallplates. To safely clean these devices, simply use a damp cloth with mild soap. Be certain to turn the power off to the device prior to cleaning. Due to risk of shock or electrocution, do not use disinfecting products, including foggers, sprays or other types of atomized cleaning agents. Plus, if the liquid seeps into the switch or outlet, it can damage the internal components, resulting in a fire hazard. Cleaning solutions can also damage or discolor the device’s surface or cause it to deteriorate over time, which may include cracking.
“Cleaning your electrical devices is not a big job, but it is one that needs to be handled with care,” said William Randall, director of product management at Leviton. “Taking the proper precautions and cleaning these surfaces regularly can help reduce the spread of harmful bacteria to help keep your family and home healthy.”
For extra protection, Leviton offers Antimicrobial switches and wallplates for your home. “Antimicrobial refers to any substance that eradicates or inhibits the growth of bacteria by suppressing bacteria reproduction,” explains Randall. “Our antimicrobial switches and wallplates are engineered to help combat the spread of harmful bacteria and contain an EPA registered additive that protects the surfaces from contamination. When cleaned regularly with a cloth dampened with water and mild soap, that additive works to inhibit 99 percent of bacterial growth.” As with cleaning any switch or wallplate, be certain to turn the power off at the circuit breaker or fuse prior to cleaning and to switch back on when you have completed the job.
With proper and regular cleaning of light switches and wallplates, you can feel confident you’re creating a bright, fresh appearance and a healthier home.