How To Clean Baseboards

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Baseboards add a nice decorative touch to any room and also help protect the drywall. They also endure the brunt of shoes, pets, vacuums, and household dirt and dust. Unfortunately, routine vacuuming, sweeping, and mopping do little to keep baseboards clean. Because cleaning baseboards is tedious and involves bending over frequently, they often don't make the cleaning checklist. The cleaning experts at Molly Maid® want to change that with our field-tested tips for how to clean baseboards.

Baseboard Cleaning 101

If you're looking for an easy way to clean baseboards, you've come to the right place. While cleaning baseboards is straightforward, the task is nevertheless a large one. Consider the number of baseboards in your home. A small room can easily have 50 linear feet of baseboard. Now, multiply the number of baseboards in a single room by all the rooms in your house. That's a lot of work, but when you use these tips, the job can be much more manageable.

Gather the Necessary Cleaning Supplies

An integral part of any cleaning strategy is making a list of cleaning supplies. When you gather everything you'll need beforehand, you'll save time and energy cleaning your baseboards. Here's what you'll need:

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Bucket
  • Warm water
  • Dish soap
  • Sponge
  • Dishcloth
  • Stiff scrub brush
  • Bath towels
  • Melamine sponge
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Small stool

If you're cleaning baseboards in multiple rooms, a supply caddie will make the job easier. Load a clean bucket or caddie with soap, sponges, dishcloths, brushes, and other cleaning supplies.

Prepare Your Work Area

Before you begin, move furniture, rugs, or other items that are in the way. Because cleaning baseboards is awkward for all of us, and even painful for some, try cleaning one room at a time. Use a stool or a bucket to sit while you clean. Use a folded towel for extra cushion for your knees. Your towel also comes in handy for cleaning up spills.

Remove Dust and Debris

Plug in your vacuum and attach the brush attachment to the wand.
Slowly and steadily vacuum the baseboards to loosen and capture dust. If your vacuum has a long wand, you can just walk around the house and vacuum the baseboards without bending over. Use a soft-bristled brush to sweep away any dust remaining in the grooves.

Wipe Down the Baseboards With Soap and Water

Fill a bucket with a gallon of hot water and a few squirts of dish soap or a cup of vinegar. Use a microfiber cloth and soapy water to wipe down the baseboards. Only work on one small section at a time. Once that section is clean, dry it with a new cloth, and then continue cleaning along the wall. As you clean, avoid letting your cleaning cloth get too wet, and wipe up any water immediately. This is especially important for a room that has a wood floor. Leaving excess water on a wood or laminate floor can cause it to bulge and buckle.

Scrub Stubborn Stains

Mix baking soda with enough water to make a runny paste, and use a stiff-bristled brush to remove scuff marks, buildup, and stubborn stains. Use a damp cleaning cloth to wipe off the baking soda residue before moving on to the next stain.

Buff Your Baseboards

Give your baseboards a beautiful finishing touch by buffing them with a microfiber cloth. For water stains and streaks, dampen the corner of the cloth and rub the area, then buff dry. Add some shine and keep your clean baseboards looking their best by rubbing them with a dryer sheet. The anti-static sheet prevents dust and pet hair from building up and leaves a nice crisp sheen.

Use these techniques to work your way around the room slowly. While cleaning baseboards that have decorative millwork, you may need to scrunch up the cloth and use firm pressure to wipe the creases and grooves.

Bonus Tip: The Best Way to Clean White Baseboards

In the U.S., white baseboards are the norm, but there is a downside. Thanks to the stark contrast, even the slightest stain or scuff mark is magnified. A brilliant white baseboard looks modern, clean, and sharp—unless it's dirty. Here's how to clean baseboards that are ultra-white to bring back the shine:

  • Mix warm water, dish soap, and white vinegar in a bucket.
  • Dip a soft cloth in the cleaning solution and wipe away dust and surface dirt.
  • Use a melamine sponge dipped in the mixture to scrub away stubborn buildup or stains. Be careful, and only rub with enough pressure to remove the stain because melamine can remove paint, too.
  • Get into the grooves with a toothbrush dipped in your cleaner.
  • Wipe down the baseboard with a clean, damp microfiber cloth, then dry it with a towel.

Regular Maintenance for Baseboards

Keeping your baseboards clean doesn't have to take all day when you use these pro cleaning tips. With regular maintenance, repairs, and touch-ups, you won't have to clean them as often. Now that you've got baseboard cleaning down, keep them cleaner longer with these maintenance tips:

  • Make baseboards a part of your routine cleaning schedule.
  • Cleaning baseboards monthly is a good starting point for most homes.
  • After each cleaning, wipe them down with a dryer sheet. This will help minimize the buildup of dust and pet hair between cleanings.
  • Homes with pets or children will usually require more frequent cleaning.
  • Consider adopting the habit of leaving shoes outside or in a mudroom.
  • Take it easy with the vacuum when cleaning near baseboards to prevent scuffs and damage.

Because they can take such a beating, repairing chipped or broken baseboards is a good idea. Cracks and chips are unattractive and can stand out. Plus, when you skip repairs, you risk further damage and more costly repairs. For example, a small chip with splintered edges can get dinged again, leading to even more damage. Some filler, sandpaper, and paint will get the job done for most DIYers.

What Type of Paint Makes Baseboard Cleaning Easier?

There's not much you can do about the existing paint, but you can repaint it to refresh the look of your baseboards and make cleaning easier. Whether you're repainting or painting after a repair, here are the best baseboard paints for durability and cleanability.

Oil-based Trim Paint

Oil-based paint with alkyds continues to be the standard for professionals and DIYers. It's available in many shades and colors and in a range of finishes. Durable and easy to maintain, oil-based paint dries slowly, resulting in a smooth, even finish.

Alkyd-Acrylic Trim Paint

Due to tightening environmental regulations, manufacturers are emphasizing water-based paints. Alkyd-Acrylic paint features the eco-friendliness of water-based paint and the easy maintenance of oil-based trim paint. The paint dries quickly compared to oil-based paint and leaves a smooth surface plus, you're making a healthier choice.

Keep your baseboards clean and well-maintained, and choose the best baseboard paint when repainting. Who knows instead of being an afterthought, your baseboards could be the new center of attention!

Keep Your Home Looking Its Best With Clean Baseboards

Knowing how to clean something is one thing—having time to clean it is another. Even with the best cleaning strategy and know-how, cleaning takes time you don't always have. When you don't have time to clean baseboards or anything else, count on your local Molly Maid cleaning team to get it done. We offer the most popular residential cleaning services backed by the Neighborly Done Right Promise™. At Molly Maid, we can create a personalized cleaning plan just for you—get your customized quote today!

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