I know that cleaning baseboards can often be a bit of an unwanted or daunting task, at least if a home is very large, so I have gathered all of my favorite tips, tricks, as well as some of my own personal cleaning methods all in one place for you. Why not make it easier if at all possible, right? This Ultimate Guide will teach you not only how to clean those dirty baseboards, but also how to maintain that cleanliness as long as you possibly can between deep cleanings.
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What are baseboards?
To start out… let’s talk about what these things even are that I want to show you how to clean…lol. Baseboards are basically just the trim (some people call it moulding) that covers the small area (or seam) between the material that covers the floor and the wall in your home.
There are many styles of base boards which include smooth, beaded, square, curved, there are even some that are quite ornate (the ornate ones tend to be the hardest to clean). Baseboards come in many different materials too. There is solid stained or clear finished wood, white ones that can be painted glossy or matte, MDF (medium-density fiberboard) which is super common, and even cut pieces of tile can be a popular type of base board.
Whether you refer to them as baseboards, mopboards, base boards (two words), or even have a little tile surround of some sort that is lining your floors…In my book, they all fall under the same category and require very similar methods to clean them up and keep them looking great long term.
How to clean baseboards:
The first thing that you need to do when you start to tackle cleaning your baseboards (these tips work for cleaning doors and door frames as well)…is to assess how dirty they are.
Sometimes baseboards are only dusty and don’t need to be what I call “wet cleaned”…they literally may just need dusting, “dry cleaning”, because sometimes you’re either fairly caught up on your deep cleaning, or they just catch dust, pet/human hair and need very little of your time to get them back to their full level of “deep cleaned”.
You can easily test how dirty, or how much grime, is on your baseboards by taking your finger and running it along the top of the moulding (the place where it touches the wall paint)…if you pull your finger away and it is covered in dust, but the base board looks clean there…all you need to do is dust your baseboards.
However, if you run your finger across the top of the trim and it doesn’t really make much difference to how clean that area of the baseboard looks… you are going to need to do some deep cleaning…or as I mentioned before “wet cleaning”.
Wet cleaning is definitely more labor-intensive…it’s one of the few chores that I would actually hire out if I could afford to do so…however, I’m fully aware that that is just a pipe-dream so I will show you how to get them sparkling, or new construction, clean in no time.
Look just a little further below, in this post, for directions on how to “dry clean” and to “wet clean” your baseboards because we need to go over what tools and supplies you’re going to need to have on hand in order to do a really good job, or to understand what I’m even talking about (for those of you that may be new to cleaning a home anyway).
What to clean baseboards with?
Ok, so the tools and products you are going to need to do this job properly are as follows:
- Vacuum (with brush or crevice extension)
- Tea towels or cleaning rags
- Dry brush such as a hand broom (for dry cleaning)
- Old tooth brush or some type of crevice brush (your baseboard scrubber for wet cleaning)
- Bucket or large bowl
- Dawn Original Dish Soap or Sal Suds Multipurpose Cleaner (both are the two best baseboard cleaner options)
Now on to how and when to use them all.
Baseboard cleaning hacks:
The easiest way dry clean your baseboards: I recommend using either a vacuum with a brush attachment on the end, a tea towel or rag, or a brush that has long bristles, such as a paint brush. To vacuum them all you need to do is go along the top edge and the bottom edge and that should do the trick.
To dust them using a cloth, just wipe thoroughly, working in sections and wipe left to right or vice versa…it’s easy peasy.
If you use a brush to dust them (such as a hand broom) you will want to work your way in one direction, basically sweeping the dust into a pile the way that you do when you are sweeping your floor with a full-sized broom… a dry, medium-sized paint brush works for this as well.
The best way to wet clean your baseboards: You will need a bucket of soapy solution (just use a tiny bit of soap…especially if you’re using my favorite multipurpose cleaner or Dawn Dish soap, and some water…remember a little bit of soap goes a very long way). You will also need a rag of some sort as well as an old toothbrush, or a brush made specifically for cleaning moulding.
Work in sections, going one direction and first take your rag, dip it into the bucket of soapy water, wring it out, and scrub the length of the section you want to work on. Often times, just the rag will do the trick to get the whole area clean and you won’t need to use the brush… but if you do decide that the rag didn’t get into the nooks and crannies of the trim, that is when you dip the tooth brush in the soapy water and then scrub that area in a circular motion. I recommend going clockwise and then re-dipping the tooth brush and going the opposite way the next time so that you are cleaning out the grime more thoroughly by taking it from more than one direction.
*Make sure that each time your bucket of soapy water gets looking a bit murky to dump it out and start with a fresh soapy solution. You can’t get something clean with dirty water.*
Once you have wet-cleaned the area to your satisfaction, I actually recommend going one step further and using a bucket full of plain clean water and a clean rag…dip the rag in the bucket, wring it out, and wipe the trim off one more time… basically this is you rinsing off any of the soapy residue… and that should help in making sure that your cleaning job lasts a little bit longer because leaving it a little bit soapy (soap is a little sticky) would attract more dust to it later on. You can totally skip the rinsing step, but it’s totally up to you how you want to do it.
How to get scuff marks off of baseboards?
To remove scuffs from trim, the only way I know of that does a decent job is by using a Magic Eraser (off-brand ones work just as well).
The technique involved is simply dipping the Magic Eraser into a bucket of water, wring it out just a little bit (it should almost be dripping) and gently scrub the scuff using a circular motion… it’s very easy to get too carried away and scrub off some of your paint though, so be mindful of not over-doing it.
After you scrub with the Magic Eraser, you need to take it one more step. Using a bucket of clean water and a fresh rag… dip in and wring out your rag and thoroughly wipe clean the area that you just used the magic eraser on… Magic Erasers leave a white film that needs to be rinsed off, so don’t forget this step!
How to clean bathroom baseboards?
Bathroom baseboards are a little bit different to clean… you definitely need to wet clean them because there is often hairspray build-up that needs to be scrubbed down… and the addition of having more moisture in the air tends to kinda paste the dust to the baseboards… so definitely wet clean those baseboards… but you could also take it one step further if you would like to also disinfect them.
We all know that since we do “our business” in a bathroom there are more microscopic germs hanging out in there… so if you want to skip the bucket of soapy water, you could actually use an antibacterial wipe, such as a Clorox wipe, and scrub them down with that… then I would definitely use the plain water and rag method to rinse off any of the disinfectant residue.
What is the cheapest way to wash baseboards?
Using a rag, a bucket full of water (or even a bowl works if you don’t have a bucket), and an old toothbrush are the most frugal ways to clean those mopboards because you aren’t using up any electricity to get the job done… that would actually probably be the most natural cleaning method too.
If you’re a fan of the natural way to clean things, you’re going to want to see my grout cleaning tutorial that deep cleans grout using nothing but water too.
How to keep baseboards clean?
Now it’s time to learn how to maintain those clean baseboards, and prevent scuffs/scuffing as long as possible!
I mentioned above, after “wet cleaning” to make sure to “rinse your baseboards” to help keep them clean and not attracting dust, but you could also try to rub them down with a dryer sheet… I have heard that doing so will keep them free of dust for much longer, but I have yet to try it.
When it’s time to vacuum during your regular chores, try to get in the habit of vacuuming the top and the bottom of the trim when you do your more thorough vacuuming jobs…this will keep up with your dry cleaning of your baseboards and will actually make it so that you have to wet clean them less often.
I don’t know about you, but I may have been doing some angry vacuuming if my baseboards often have a black, or whatever color my vacuum is, scuff line across our mopboards… I am actually super guilty of this one, you could say that I either get a little carried away with my cleaning…or I’m just not careful enough, but I constantly find myself needing to scrub this scuff line off… so, my recommendation to you, and myself (lol) is to be a bit more gentle when you’re vacuuming around the edges of a room… this will prevent those scuff marks from even happening and it will save us all from a massive scrubbing headache later on.
Another thing that you could do to keep those baseboards cleaner, and scuff-free, as long as possible is to adopt a “no shoes inside the house” rule… that is one of those rules that is hard to get everyone on board to do so…but once everyone is in the habit the entire house will stay much cleaner… you’ll notice that not only will the mop boards have less dirt, grime, mud, and scuffs…but so will your floors, furniture, and walls because our outside shoes are absolutely FILTHY (and I didn’t even mention the nasty germs we’re picking up on our shoes in those public restrooms…yuck)!
I’m a big fan of a house looking like it is brand new construction as long as possible… so make sure that you have color matching caulk, grout, and paint handy so that any areas that need completely touched up can be fixed easily and without much headache.
That is really all that I can think of to share with you guys when it comes to cleaning baseboards…which really feels like it is just a continuation of my very thorough post about “how to wash walls“… so I guess with the knowledge, and putting that knowledge into action, from both of those two posts, that pretty much will keep your house on an OCD level of cleanliness.
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*Please note: This post was originally shared on this website on February 17, 2022 and has since been/will continue to be updated frequently to improve user experience, stay current, as well as add any other helpful information as I find it.