How to Clean Your Baseboards Quickly and Easily
Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links. Ratings and prices are accurate and items are in stock as of time of publication.
It may not be particularly fun, but cleaning baseboards is faster and easier than you'd think.
When you’re expecting guests, your mind scrolls through the litany of things you need to clean (like, super quickly). And then there are things that you totally forget about until moments before guests walk in. Ahem, cleaning baseboards.
Cue the panic: How did they get so dirty? When was the last time you cleaned them? And will guests really notice them? Face it: Walls and floors get scrubbed, but it’s easy to forget about the few inches of baseboard between the two.
The good news is that cleaning baseboards isn’t hard when you have the right supplies and follow a step-by-step process. Make it a part of your cleaning schedule, along with tasks like cleaning your blinds and drapes, and you’ll never get stuck with a tough, full-house baseboard project again. While you’ve got cleaning on the brain, learn how to clean countertops, stainless steel appliances, and your TV screen.
Get Reader’s Digest‘s Read Up newsletter for cleaning, humor, travel, tech and fun facts all week long.
What is the best way to clean your baseboards?
Your strategy for cleaning baseboards will depend on a few things: the material they’re made of, whether they’re painted or stained, and what kind of shape they’re in.
That said, you’ll follow a few general steps no matter what type of baseboards you have. First, you need to get rid of the loose dirt and dust. Then you’ll wipe the entire baseboard to remove stuck-on dirt. Lastly, you’ll remove scuff marks. Of course, you’ll tweak those instructions to best fit your baseboard type—more on that below.
What spray can you use on baseboards?
Your gut instinct may be to use Clorox wipes or spray, but you may not need anything that strong. Matthew Schmitz, a managing editor with home-repair company HomeServe, recommends using soapy warm water. Simply mix a teaspoon of dish soap into a gallon of water, soak a rag or microfiber cloth in the sudsy water, squeeze out the excess, and wipe the rag over the baseboards.
Chemical cleaners—even vinegar solutions—might be totally fine for your baseboards, but it’ll depend on the materials and finish. Overall, it’s safest to use soap and water on your baseboards before trying other solutions.
If you’re working with wood-stained boards, opt for soap and water or cleaners made specifically for wood-stains (more on that below). For painted baseboards, experts recommend starting with the simple soap-and-water method and avoiding harsh cleaning sprays. Using traditional all-purpose cleaners can leave splotchy, off-color patches even after the boards have been dried with a cloth.
How do you clean baseboards without kneeling?
Cleaning baseboards is hard on your back—especially when you’re doing the whole home in one swoop. And while there will be times when your baseboards need a little more elbow grease, you can do most of the cleaning standing up, thanks to a few handy tools.
How often should you clean baseboards?
Schmitz says that cleaning your baseboards once every two to three months should be sufficient, though that will depend on the room of your home and how much traffic it gets. If your baseboards have collected a layer of dirt, dust, and pet hair, they’re due for a cleaning, regardless of when you last wiped them down.
Add “cleaning baseboards” to your weekly tidying-up routine, Schmitz suggests. Tackle one room per week, and you’ll never be stuck with a whole-house baseboard-cleaning project.
Ready to give it a whirl? Here’s everything you need to know about cleaning painted or stained wood baseboards.
How to clean painted baseboards
- Use the brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner to get rid of dust and dirt that’s gathered along the top of the baseboard and in the tight crevice where the baseboard hits the floor. A soft-bristled broom or Swiffer duster will also get the job done.
- Create a cleaning solution by mixing a gallon of warm water with a couple of teaspoons of dish soap.
- Dip a microfiber cloth or microfiber sponge into the solution and wipe the baseboards to remove stuck-on dirt and discoloration.
- Use a Mr.Clean Magic Eraser to remove any remaining scuff marks or difficult stains. Use a cotton swab soaked in the cleaning solution for those hard-to-reach spots.
How to clean stained wood baseboards
- Use the brush attachment of your vacuum cleaner to clear up dust and dirt that’s gathered along both the top and bottom of the baseboards.
- Mix a bucket of hot water with a quarter cup of Murphy’s Oil Soap. Dip your rag or cloth in the mixture and ring it to make sure it won’t drip, then wipe along the baseboards.
- Rinse your cloth, then wipe again with just water to make sure there’s no residue.
- Use a dry microfiber cloth to wipe one more time to get rid of any excess moisture.
Other ways to clean your baseboards
Sometimes your baseboards need a good washing. Other times, they need a quick dusting or some scuff-mark removal. For those situations, look to the solutions below.
These fragrant little sheets are meant to collect dust from your clothes, and they can serve the same purpose for your baseboards. Bonus: They’re super easy to use. Just wipe the baseboards with a dryer sheet and watch surface grime disappear.
They don’t call it magic for nothing. The Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is a special sort of cleaning sorcery, removing scuffs from painted baseboards without hours of scrubbing. But you can also use the handy tool for the whole baseboard-cleaning process.
You could bend down and wipe your baseboards with a cloth, but if your back protests, try the Baseboard Buddy. It was specifically created for cleaning between your baseboard’s groves.
That’s it! You’ve successfully learned how to clean baseboards in a few easy steps. Next up on the rotation: Learn how to clean the bathroom from top to bottom. And don’t forget to bookmark these expert-approved spring cleaning tips!
- Matthew Schmitz, managing editor at HomeServe