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How to Clean Baseboards
The Easy Way

December 11, 2020

If cleaning baseboards never made it onto your weekly cleaning list, you’re not alone. Most of us rarely notice how dirty our baseboards and other trim are getting. But when you take a closer look, you’ll often find grime, scratches, and scuff marks all along your baseboards. All that buildup can leave your previously white baseboards looking yellow and dingy. The good news is you can learn how to clean baseboards and keep them clean.

Baseboard cleaning and other special cleaning projects aren’t things most of us look forward to, but they can give your fresh, clean home the perfect finishing touch. Your family and guests may never rave about your sparkling clean baseboards, but the effect they have on your home’s appearance is undeniable. If it’s been a while since you’ve cleaned your baseboards, they are probably in need of a deep clean.
Here are some items you will need to get even the grimiest baseboards clean:

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Duster
  • Warm water
  • Sponge
  • Dish soap
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Vegetable oil
  • Dryer sheets

Before you get started, here are some good baseboard cleaning tips to keep in mind:

  • When you’re cleaning your home, save the baseboards for last. That way, they won’t have dirt and dust accumulating from above. If you really want to make a cleaning statement, learn how to clean your walls to get them looking as beautiful and clean as your baseboards.
  • To keep your cleaning project manageable, clean your baseboards in one room or area at a time. You’ll be able to see your progress room by room, which should motivate you to keep going!
  • Recruit family members to help with your baseboard cleaning. Teach them how to clean baseboards using our handy guide and make this cleaning chore a team effort. You may have to bribe them with rewards, but the project could turn into some family fun. Assign each family member an area or room, give them their gear, and crank up some cleaning music. The first to finish and do the best job wins!

How to Clean Painted Baseboards

Many homes have baseboards and other trim that is painted with formulas specifically designed for the wear and tear these surfaces encounter. Some trim paint is more durable and less prone to showing dirt than others, so be aware that could affect how your baseboards look. For example, paints with a glossy finish repel grime and dirt, are durable, and they stand out better than flat paints. Regardless of the type of paint used on your baseboards, getting them clean again isn’t hard, but does require monthly maintenance.


Using a vacuum cleaner brush attachment, vacuum along the length of the baseboards along the top ledge and then the top of the trim at the floor. Pay extra attention to the crevices like corners and where the trim meets the floor.


After removing all loose dirt and dust, it’s time to work on stains and buildup. Dip a sponge into a mixture of warm water and dish soap and start scrubbing away scuffs. You may have to use some elbow grease to scrub out stains and other grime.


A cotton swab is just the right size for those hard-to-reach-spots. Dip your swab in your cleaner, then push and twist it in the corners and other spaces to remove dirt.


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Use a clean microfiber cloth dampened with warm water and wipe down your baseboards to remove the baseboard cleaner residue.


Rub down your baseboards with a fresh dryer sheet. This last step will create a barrier that repels dust and dirt and keeps your baseboards looking beautiful longer.

How to Clean Stained Wood Baseboards

The stained wood surfaces and trim in your home add a warm elegance and character. Stained wood baseboards do require some special care to maintain the wood’s natural glow, but don’t just reach for a commercial cleaner. There are safe, inexpensive baseboard cleaner alternatives that are just as effective, right in your own home.


Vacuum just like you would with painted baseboards, and then wipe down your stained wood baseboards with a clean, dry microfiber cloth to lift stray dust and dirt. Be careful not to leave any fibers that could get caught in splintered wood.


Your baseboard cleaner for unpainted wood is a little different. Mix 1/4 cup of dish soap with a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a bucket of warm water. This formula is an excellent DIY cleaner for many types of wood. The soap is mild enough that it doesn’t cause damage, and the vegetable oil renews and polishes the wood. Dip your cleaning sponge into your baseboard cleaning solution and start scrubbing. Only use a little cleaner at a time to prevent things from getting messy.


A cotton swab is a great little cleaning tool because it can get into small spaces and absorb dirt and moisture. Dip a swab into your cleaner and work the cotton ends into corners and other tight spots to remove dirt.


Rinse your cleaning sponge thoroughly with hot water, wring it out, and wipe down your baseboards to remove any cleaning residue. This way, you can remove the soap and leave the vegetable oil to protect the wood.


Buff your stained wood baseboards dry with a clean, dry microfiber cloth and then wipe them down with a dryer sheet. This will help repel dirt and dust.

If you want to learn how to clean your hardwood floors and keep them looking as great as your baseboards, check out our post on cleaning all types of wood floors.

The Best Way to Clean Baseboards Is the Easy Way

We know it’s a cliche, but it’s true. Once you get your baseboards back in shape using the cleaning guidelines above, keeping them clean is a breeze. If you try the baseboard cleaning methods above and your baseboards still don’t look beautiful, it may be time to re-stain and seal or repaint. We all know what a fresh coat of paint can do, but find out which trim paint is best for your baseboards before you do all that work.

Here are five easy ways to clean baseboards, chair rails, molding, and other trim:

1. Mr. Clean Magic Eraser

These versatile and hardworking cleaning sponges can clean many things around the house, and they may be the easiest way to clean baseboards regularly. All you need is a handful of Magic Erasers and a bucket of warm water. If you’re working on painted baseboards, add dish soap. If you have stained wood baseboards, add distilled white vinegar. Dip your eraser into the bucket, wring it out, and wipe down the baseboards.

2. Brooms and Brushes

Sweeping dust and dirt from your baseboards with a broom is easy, and it keeps you from having to bend down or squat. Sweep the dust from your baseboards and then sweep or vacuum the floor beneath. For more detailed dusting, you can use a new paintbrush on baseboards and other trim.

3. Vacuum Cleaner

A handheld vacuum cleaner you can extend down to your baseboards is convenient and quick, but a regular vacuum cleaner with brush and wand attachments will pick up more dirt and dust. Start with your vacuum’s brush attachment and work from the top of the baseboards down. Get into nooks and crannies with your vacuum’s wand attachment.

4. Baby Wipes

Baby wipes are not only one of the greatest baby care inventions ever, they are also a quick and easy way to clean up. When you need to clean up in a hurry, disposable wipes may be the solution. While there are more eco-friendly alternatives, in a pinch you can use these disposable wipes on baseboards, picture frames, and more.

5. Dryer Sheets

Fabric softener sheets smell great and easily lift dirt, dust, and pet hair from your baseboards. They also leave behind a dust repelling layer to protect your baseboards from further buildup. This easy baseboard cleaning method is a good option for regular cleaning maintenance, especially if you have pets.

Now that you know the best way to clean baseboards and other trim, why not check out our extensive library of cleaning tips, tricks, and hacks? The Maids is on a mission to help you create a cleaner, more beautiful home. Want to learn more about how The Maids can help you out around the house? Find out more about our popular and convenient cleaning services and get a free estimate online.

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