How to Clean Baseboards

Couch and side table in a room with white baseboards

Becca Tapert / Unsplash

Overview
  • Working Time: 2 hrs
  • Total Time: 2 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner

When was the last time you took a good look at the baseboards in your home? Upon close inspection, you may discover that they are really grimy, scuffed, and in need of cleaning. Baseboards are the wood, vinyl, or composite pieces that bridge the area between walls and floors covering any gaps where the two join and adding an aesthetic finish.

Except for access and having to kneel, cleaning baseboards is simple but can be time-consuming. Learn how to clean different types of baseboards properly, how often to clean them, and tips to help keep them clean.

How Often to Clean Your Baseboards

Baseboards should be dusted every time you vacuum or at least twice a month. Regular cleaning will help prevent dust and dirt from building up.

A more thorough cleaning should be done twice per year to remove scuffs, food splatters, and heavy grime. This is also a great time to touch up painted baseboards, if needed.

The following instructions will help you get your baseboards back into good shape if you have neglected them for some time and then for a thorough cleaning one or twice a year.

Tip

While cleaning baseboards is easy, it can be time consuming if you are trying to clean all the baseboards in the house at one time. Set a schedule to clean the baseboards in certain rooms on certain days or weeks. That way the baseboards throughout the entire house will be done regularly.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

Tools

  • Vacuum
  • Small bucket or basin

Materials

Supplies

  • Microfiber dust cloths or disposable dusters
  • Sponge
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Wood cleaner
  • Melamine sponge
  • Dryer sheets
  • Cotton swabs
  • Art gum or pencil eraser
  • WD-40 lubricant

Instructions

  1. Move Furniture to Access Baseboards

    Moving furniture and home accessories is one of the more difficult parts of cleaning baseboards. Make sure that you have plenty of room to easily reach them without bumping or scratching the baseboards or furniture.

  2. Remove Surface Dust

    Use a dry, microfiber cloth, disposable duster, or the upholstery attachment on your vacuum to remove dust and spiderwebs. Pay attention to every horizontal surface like the crevices at the top and bottom of the baseboard as well as vertical surfaces.

  3. Mix a Cleaning Solution

    For Painted and Vinyl Baseboards: In a small bucket or basin, mix 1/2 teaspoon dishwashing liquid in two quarts of warm water.

    For Finished Wood Baseboards: Follow the product instructions for a commercial wood cleaner. Some are used directly from the bottle, others are mixed with water.

  4. Wipe Away Soil

    Dip a microfiber cloth into the cleaning solution. Wring out excess water so that the cloth is only damp. Too much water will leave streaks or drips on your floor or carpet. This is particularly important for unpainted wooden baseboards. Clean them just as you would wood blinds or furniture.

    Starting at the top of the baseboard and working down, wipe away dirt, grease, and food splatters. Rinse your cloth out often and change the cleaning water as it becomes soiled.

    Tip

    Baseboard cleaning can be hard on the knees. Use a yoga mat or garden kneeler to make cleaning a bit less painful. You can also sit on the floor and scoot along as you clean.

  5. Tackle Dirty Corners and Heavy Soil

    It can be almost impossible to get soil out of tight corners with a cloth. Dip a cotton swab in the cleaning solution to reach crevices and corners.

    If kitchen baseboards feel sticky, it is a build-up of grease. Add a 1/2 teaspoon of a degreaser to the cleaning solution to help cut through the build-up.

    For stuck-on food and scuff marks on painted baseboards, use a melamine eraser sponge (Mr. Clean Eraser) to light rub these stains away. Do not scrub too hard or the paint may be damaged.

    For scuff marks on finished wood baseboards, use an art gum or school pencil eraser to remove the marks from wood. Just make sure the surface of the eraser is clean. Rub the scuff mark and then vacuum away any shavings that may be on the floor.

    A quick spritz of WD-40 will remove scuff marks from vinyl baseboards. Spray on the lubricant and buff with a microfiber cloth.

  6. Air-Dry

    After cleaning the baseboards allow them to dry completely before moving the furniture and room accessories back into place.

Tips to Keep Baseboards Clean Longer

  • Wipe away spills and splatters immediately.
  • Dust baseboards weekly with disposable duster or vacuum attachment.
  • Use a laundry dryer sheet to wipe down freshly cleaned baseboards. The small amount of silicone coating that comes from the sheet will make removing dust easier.