How to Clean Baseboards

A dirty baseboard can make an otherwise spotless house look grimy, but how do you clean them without making your back and knees ache? Don’t fear—learn how to clean baseboards until they sparkle and gleam with these tips.  


What Exactly Are Baseboards? 

Baseboards are long, flat planks that cover the bottom of your home’s interior walls, hiding the awkward joint where the wall meets the floor. They are installed for both aesthetic and practical reasons; they protect the bottom part of the wall from getting banged and bruised by shoes, appliances, and furniture.  

Most baseboards are made from solid wood. However, some homeowners choose to install composite materials, such as medium density fiberboard, or synthetic materials, like vinyl, due to price, durability, and resistance to mold and pests. 

What To Use to Clean Baseboards 

Here are the tools you’ll need:  

  • A vacuum  

  • A microfiber cloth, an old rag, or a melamine sponge 

  • Cotton swabs or an old toothbrush 

  • Dryer sheet 

The Best Way to Clean Baseboards 

Follow these general steps to clean your baseboards: 

  1. Clean the walls  

Much of the dust and dirt that collects on baseboards come from dirty walls, so it’s a good idea to vacuum and wash your walls before turning your attention downward.  


  1. Vacuum  

This is one of the easiest ways to clean baseboards. Put the brush attachment on your vacuum and run it down the length of your baseboards. This step should remove most of the dust, dirt, and hair. 


  1. Wipe down the baseboards 

After the dust is sucked away, it’s time to use a little elbow grease to get rid of any spills, stains, and splatters. The cleaning solution you use will depend on the baseboard material: 

  • Vinyl baseboards: Mix an eco-friendly cleaning solution of one gallon of warm water, four tablespoons of dish soap, and four tablespoons of white vinegar—a mixture that may also work as a DIY floor cleaner recipe. Then, use a dishwashing sponge, microfiber cloth, rag, or even a sock to scrub the baseboards. Alternatively, wet a melamine sponge and use it to magically wipe any grime away.  

  • Wood baseboards: Mix one gallon of warm water with four tablespoons of dish soap and one tablespoon of mineral oil. Remember that wood baseboards are more susceptible to mold, mildew, water damage, and warping. If you have wood baseboards, be conservative with the amount of water you use. The mineral oil helps protect your boards from water damage.  


  1. Get into the nooks and crannies 

The best tools to clean baseboard nooks and crannies are cotton swabs or an old toothbrush. Dip your chosen tool into the cleaning solution. Then, scrub the top of the baseboard where it meets the wall and the bottom where it meets the floor. For an extra-squeaky clean, see if you can reach into the crevice between the floor and baseboard. 

  1. Buff it out  

When the baseboards are dry, use a dryer sheet to wipe down the length of the plank. It will easily pick up any remaining dirt and dust from your newly shiny baseboards. 

How to Clean Stained Baseboards 

While the steps above will usually give you the gleaming baseboards of your dreams, sometimes your baseboards need a little extra love. If they have become stained from pet urine or other gunk, try using the following products on your baseboards: 

  • An enzymatic cleaner  

  • A mixture of one-part white vinegar to three-parts warm water (the higher percentage of vinegar will help break down the offending substance) 

  • Undiluted vinegar for an extra-stubborn pet urine stain (just be sure to wipe it off with water afterward) 

  • A mixture of a few drops of three percent hydrogen peroxide, a half cup of baking soda, and a few drops of dish soap. Mix into a paste, rub it into the baseboards, and then wash off with water. 

If your wood baseboards are still discolored after using one of these cleaning solutions, you may need to sand off the top layer of varnish or paint and then replace it with another layer.  

How Often Should You Clean Baseboards?  

Your baseboard cleaning frequency depends on the baseboard type, your lifestyle, and who lives with you. For example, wood baseboards might mold more easily than vinyl ones, so you’ll want to clean them more often to protect your lungs. If you have a heavy-shedding pet or bring mud and dirt inside from your outdoorsy lifestyle, you’ll also want to clean your baseboards more often.  

A good rule of thumb is to vacuum your baseboards once a month and clean up any spills immediately. From there, you can decide whether your baseboards need more attention or whether you can take a longer break in between cleanings. Add it to your spring maintenance checklist. 

Final Thoughts 

To continue to safeguard your home against normal wear and tear, consider signing up for a home warranty plan. With coverage for parts of up to 23 major home systems and appliances and flexible pricing and plans, a home warranty from American Home Shield® means peace of mind that your home and budget are protected. 

See the plan contractfor coverage details, including service fees, limitations and exclusions. Charges for non-covered items may apply.    

AHS assumes no responsibility, and specifically disclaims all liability, for your use of any and all information contained herein.

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