How to Clean a Gloss Interior Paint Trim

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Things You'll Need

  • 2 buckets

  • 2 sponges

  • Mild detergent

  • Vinegar

  • Paper towels or clean dry rags


A equal mix of white vinegar and water makes an effective grease-cutting cleaner and won't harm paint. Keep some handy in a spray bottle for touch-up cleaning. Test the detergent solution on a hidden or inconspicuous area first, especially if you're cleaning a dark colored paint, to make sure it doesn't mar or streak.


Avoid using ammonia-based cleaners on painted trim. It can dull the paint and fade colors. Don't use very hot water or abrasive sponges, especially on latex paint. It can soften and scratch the surface. Always wait until latex paint has dried for at least 30 days before cleaning--that's about how long it takes the paint to cure.

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Painted trim in your house accumulates a film of dust, like any other interior surface, even if it's in a rarely-used room. If you have a busy home, trim can get quite grimy, especially around door handles, on painted cabinets and baseboards. Gloss paint is much easier to clean than flat or eggshell paint; the higher the gloss, typically the more durable and washable the painted surface. Using mild cleansers, even latex (water-based) gloss paint can be cleaned effectively.


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Step 1

Fill a bucket with soapy water, using mild dish-washing detergent or a general purpose cleaner.

Step 2

Fill a second bucket with clear water for rinsing. Put drop cloths or old towels below the area you're going to clean.

Step 3

Starting at the bottom of whatever you are washing, use a sponge to wash the painted trim. The Old House Journal suggests using a natural sea sponge instead of a synthetic one. Working from bottom to top prevents dirty water from running down and soiling the lower areas.


Step 4

Rinse the surface from the top down, using your second sponge and the bucket of clean water.

Step 5

Buff the surface dry with clean dry rags or paper towels.


references & resources

Stevie Donald

Stevie Donald has been an online writer since 2004, producing articles for numerous websites and magazines. Her writing chops include three books on dog care and training, one of which won a prestigious national award in 2003. Donald has also been a painting contractor since 1979, painting interiors and exteriors.