How to Clean Baseboard Moldings

white luxury moulding floor with dark wooden floor interior detain concept
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Baseboards—beautiful, but dust catchers.

The wood or tile baseboards installed at the bottoms of your walls cover up and protect the joint between the floor and the walls, serve as a transition, and add visual interest to a room—but they sure can get dusty and grimy. Cleaning them is boring—a back-breaking drag unless you're one of those highly unusual people who enjoy cleaning. But the devil is in the details. It's such a small thing, but after you clean baseboards, you'll notice that the whole room seems to sparkle more than it did when you cleaned only the floors. It's as if the dust on the skirting makes the room seem drab somehow.

You might be wondering how often to clean them. You can probably get away with doing it only once a month, unless you own pets. Dogs and cats are wonderful companions, but they do shed a crazy amount of fur and dander! If you have furry friends, you'll probably have to clean the baseboards twice a month or more.

Here are some different ways to clean baseboards. The same methods apply whether you have wood or tile baseboards. If you don't have sticky grime, you can follow just one approach. If you have stubborn dirt, you'll unfortunately have to damp wipe, so you might as well forego the dry methods and go straight to soap and water. Whichever method you go with, always clean the baseboards after you've cleaned the rest of the room. Why? Gravity, my friend. Vacuuming, mopping, and dusting kick up dust and particles that fall downward. Some will invariably land on the baseboards. Vacuuming before cleaning baseboards just puts you back at square one—with dirty baseboards. One last thing: Make the job a little easier by wearing knee pads or working on a rubber mat.

Environmentally Friendly Methods

These approaches to cleaning baseboard moldings steer clear of chemicals, and produce very little waste other than dirty water.

Vacuum

  1. Install the brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner hose.
  2. Scrub back and forth across the baseboards. It's actually kind of fun to watch dust and hair get sucked up. If any sticky gunk is left behind after you vacuum, you'll need to spot wipe with a damp rag. If not, you're done.

Brush

If you have only a little dust and no grime, just take a dust brush and dustpan, or a feather duster, to the baseboards. Do not spray any cleaning product on the baseboards before doing this—if you do, you'll end up with a sort of dust paste that requires a damp rag to remove. Just work dry.

Blue dustpan and a brush.
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A simple whisk broom and dustpan is all you need for light dust on baseboards.

Damp Wipe

  1. Mix 4 cups of warm water to 1 tablespoon of liquid dish detergent or Castile soap.
  2. Wipe the baseboard with a rag dampened in the cleaning solution. Make sure to wring out the cloth well before wiping; it's not good for wood to get it soaking wet, and you don't want water on the floor, either. (Just in case, place a towel on the floor to protect it from liquid.)
  3. If you're still left with stubborn grime, scrub it with a melamine sponge (sold under the name Magic Eraser, among other brands) dipped in warm, soapy water.
  4. After damp wiping, dry the baseboards to protect the wood. Note: If you have unpainted wood trim, you can instead spray the baseboards with furniture polish, then wipe, or damp wipe with a mix of wood cleaner and water.

Tips

If you have molded baseboard, use an old toothbrush to scrub at the dust in those grooves. Still got grime in the nooks and crannies? Get into those with a cotton swab (you know, the kind for cleaning your ears) dipped in the solution of soap and water.

Not-So-Green Options

These methods also steer clear of chemicals, but they use disposable products in the form of synthetic sheets, which add to the landfill. However, they bring their own benefits. We'll leave you to weigh the pros and cons and make the choice.

Baby Wipes

Sure, it's wasteful to use these to wipe off the baseboards, but if you've roped your kids into helping out, going with this convenient method means you don't have to give the young'uns containers of soapy water that could get kicked over or spilled. After all, it's fairly annoying to clean both the baseboards and a wet floor.

Baby wipes.
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Baby wipes can work well for wiping down baseboards.

Dryer Sheets

Wipe these along the baseboards to not only remove dirt, but repel it. The chemical in the dryer sheets coats the baseboards for a while, banishing the static electricity that holds dust. Again, wasteful, but also pretty clever. Better living through chemistry, right?