​If we’re being honest, the most diligent housekeepers among us rarely prioritize cleaning baseboards, even during those top-to-bottom seasonal deep cleans. 

Low to the ground and out of the way, baseboards can easily go overlooked. But if you haven’t tackled them in a while, you could be surprised to see how clean baseboards can transform the look and feel of your home.

When all else is done, pristine baseboards are the perfect final touch to put on an immaculate space. For incredible results you can whip up in a flash, we’ll show you how to clean baseboards the easy way.

How to Clean Painted Baseboards

There are several baseboard materials available, all with unique benefits in maintenance, cost, looks, durability, and installation. The most common materials include:

Each material has a different tolerance for what you can use to finish it. Wood is the most versatile option, allowing you to paint it, stain it, or leave it unfinished. MDF is a type of particleboard that needs paint to look nice, and vinyl may only need painting if the factory color starts to fade.

What’s the common denominator between all three? Paint!

Paint is the go-to finish for most baseboards, and fortunately, it’s usually easy to clean. Interior latex varieties are the most common for baseboards because they’re easy to apply, maintain, and change up if you get bored with your color scheme. If you’re unsure what kind of paint you have on your baseboards, it’s most likely latex.

It only takes warm water and a touch of soap to clean painted baseboards in most cases. Although it’s a relatively uncomplicated chore, you can make cleaning baseboards even simpler and keep them looking sharp for longer by adding a few steps to the process. 

What You’ll Need

  • Broom
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Mild dish liquid
  • Vinegar
  • Spray bottle
  • Old toothbrush or cotton swabs
  • Dryer sheets

1. Start with a Broom and Vacuum Cleaner

Remove all the dust, pet hair, and large debris that you can before you clean baseboards. The best approach is to start with a stiff broom and sweep them end to end, making sure to get the bristles deep in crevices to dig out dirt. 

Push the brush into any hard, stuck-on gunk to dislodge as much as you can before spraying it with your cleaner. A mini handheld broom works well for digging into dried-on dirt.

After sweeping, run your vacuum over the baseboards to collect the loosened debris. Use the crevice tool to run along the top and bottom edges of the baseboard.

2. Clean Your Baseboards with Soapy Water

A bucket of lukewarm water and several drops of mild dish liquid is the best way to clean baseboards, an all-purpose combo for all types of paints and finishes. Soapy water can remove stains, gunk, and scuff marks while keeping any latex or oil-based paint on your baseboards in good condition.

Dip a clean cloth in your bucket of water, wring it out, and gently scrub out any grime or dirt marks. You may need to apply a little extra elbow grease on tough stains, but most paints can handle it. 

Keep in mind that although glossy and semi-glossy paints are easy to clean, abrasive scrubbing can mar and fade flatter finishes. If you have matte or eggshell baseboards, take a more delicate approach and dab at tough stains until they’re gone.

3. Clean Tight Spots with a Soft Brush or Cotton Swabs

If the baseboards in your room have ornate profiles with scalloped and scrolling sculpted forms, you might have a hard time getting into grooves and corners with a microfiber cloth. Even on simple flat baseboards, the edges where the baseboard meets the wall and where it meets the shoe molding can catch hard-to-clean dirt.

A soft-bristled toothbrush is the easiest way to clean baseboards with tough spots like these. It’s gentle enough to maintain painted baseboards but powerful enough to dig dirt out of awkward corners and even cracks and gaps. Dip the brush in your soapy cleaning solution and lightly scrub out tough grime. If you don’t have an old toothbrush to use, try cotton swabs for gentle abrasion.

4. Make a Vinegar Cleaning Spray

For a boost of cleaning power, you can also use all-purpose sprays or DIY cleaners on latex paints. Conveniently enough, the vinegar solutions that work so well for cleaning walls also make handy baseboard cleaners.

Mix vinegar and water in a 1:1 ratio in a spray bottle, adding a few drops of dish liquid if desired. Gently agitate the solution to combine. Spray it on the stained baseboard, let it sit for a few minutes, and wipe it clean.

5. Use Dryer Sheets for an Anti-Static Surface

A dryer sheet offers a surprisingly effective way to clean baseboards, working to not only remove immediate dirt but also prevent dust from settling afterward.

With its mild abrasiveness, you can use a dryer sheet alone to clean your baseboards in a pinch. But the best way to use them is as a follow-up to your soap and water cleaning solution. Wipe down your baseboards with a dryer sheet to apply fabric softener. Doing so will create a barrier that repels dust, slows future dirt buildup, and keeps your baseboards looking incredible for longer.

You can also make an anti-static spray with liquid fabric softener if you’re all out of dryer sheets. Combine 2 tbsp of fabric softener with a cup of water in a spray bottle. Spritz your baseboards and wipe them down with a clean microfiber cloth.

6. Dry the Baseboard

After cleaning, always ensure your baseboards are completely dry. Wipe them down with a clean towel to prevent mold growth and keep water from damaging the board.

Tips to Simplify Cleaning Baseboards

You would think that cleaning baseboards can’t get much more convenient, but we still have a few tricks to make it even easier. Follow these tips the next time you need to clean your baseboards.

Use a Sock and Broom for Easy Cleaning

Got bad knees? If you’re having a hard time getting down to clean your baseboards, a broom and a sock can give your body a break. 

Put a sock on the end of a broom, lock it in place with a hair tie or rubber band, and you have a fully functional baseboard scrubber. Spray the sock with vinegar and add dish soap, and you won’t have to spray the baseboard. Against light dirt and dust, this is arguably the most efficient way to clean baseboards.

Clean Baseboards Last During a Deep Clean

Everything tends to fall to the ground when you clean, so don’t waste time cleaning your baseboards before your windows, walls, and bookshelves. Do your baseboards after you have cleaned everything except for the floor. Clean them right before sweeping and vacuuming to avoid extra work.

Handy Tools for Quick Baseboard Cleaning

Warm water and a vinegar spray solution are the best tools when you’re wiping down a whole room’s worth of baseboards. But now and then, you’ll only need to clean a standalone dirty spot. Rather than whip up a batch of cleaner, try any of these super handy alternatives for wiping away the random stain or scuff mark:

  • Magic eraser
  • Baby wipes
  • Baking soda and water

When your baseboard has a glaring stain and you don’t have time to figure out what it is, reach for a clean magic eraser. Melamine sponges are easy to use and handy for any number of chores, from whisking away minor liquid drips to cleaning tough crayon stains

How to Clean Stained Wood Baseboards

For stained wood baseboards, use a wood cleaner or gentle soap cleanser to remove dirt. You can also make a cleaner by mixing a few drops of vegetable oil and dish soap in a bowl of warm water. The soap cleans the baseboard while the oil leaves a leftover shine.

How to Clean Untreated Wood Baseboards

Cleaning untreated wood baseboards is the most challenging. You can’t use liquid cleaners for fear that you may damage the porous wood, so you need to dust and sweep it regularly.

Dust any untreated wood baseboards in the room at least once a week, and give them a harder buffing with a microfiber cloth every month. If you have to use soap, only use it on a slightly damp cloth to dab at stains.

How Often Should You Clean Your Baseboards?

In most cases, you can save your baseboard cleaning for when you do your seasonal or semi-annual deep cleans. The exception is when there is visible grime and dirt or if you have baseboards made of unfinished wood, in which case you will need to clean them weekly.

Check Clean Baseboards Off Your To-Do List

It seems so simple, but there is a right way and a wrong way to clean your baseboards. With these simple tips, you’ll have no trouble keeping your baseboards sparkling and your home looking its finest.

Don’t have time to clean your baseboards? Finding cleaning services that fit your busy life is never a problem when you book with Anita’s. Request a booking today, and we’ll connect you with trusted local experts to handle even the toughest cleaning jobs.


Anita's Housekeeping Editors