How to Clean Baseboards

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Andre Kazimierski

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Knowing how to clean baseboards isn’t rocket science. However, doing it right takes time and know-how.

Likewise, baseboard cleaning requires bending over and straining your back. If done wrong, it could also damage your hardwood floors or walls.

So, how do you clean baseboards like a professional house cleaning expert?

Likewise, what’s the best way to clean baseboards easily without throwing out your back or ruining the paint finish?
how to clean baseboards fast

Luckily, our professionals share all their best baseboard cleaning hacks to show you how to DIY-clean baseboards the easy way. Sophia’s Cleaning Service’s expert home cleaners have field-tested these baseboard cleaning tips over the past 40 years.

Whether spring cleaning or maintaining a monthly cleaning routine, these expert tips show you how to clean your baseboards the easiest way possible.

Let’s save you time and energy by starting with the best cleaning supplies to prepare.

Baseboard Cleaning Tools and Supplies List

Before cleaning your baseboards, make a list and gather the necessary supplies. These baseboard cleaning tools make your job easier and faster without sacrificing quality.
baseboard cleaning tips best products

  • A vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment
  • Bucket
  • Warm water
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Dish soap
  • Soft-bristle brush or sponge
  • Spray bottle
  • Melamine sponge or a Mr. Clean Magic eraser
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Stiff-bristle brush
  • Baking soda
  • Drying towels or rags
  • A small stool or kneeling pad

Add an old toothbrush or cotton swabs to your supply list for baseboards with many corners and crevices. Lastly, we recommend placing all your supplies in a cleaning caddie. It makes cleaning multiple rooms easier and faster.

Best Cleaning Supplies for Your Baseboards

Baseboards can be made from wood, vinyl, or MDF (Medium-Density Fiberboard) and come in different paint types and finishes. If you use the wrong cleaning solution, you may damage the baseboards.

Before learning how to clean baseboards like a pro, let’s cover which cleaning solution is best for your baseboard material:

1) Mild Dish Soap and Water

This is a simple and effective baseboard cleaner. First, mix a few teaspoons of liquid soap in a one-gallon bucket of lukewarm water. Then, wipe down the baseboards with a microfiber cloth dipped in the solution. This mixture is considered a universal cleaner and good for all paints and finishes.

2) White Vinegar Mixture

White Vinegar is one of the best eco-friendly cleaning solutions for baseboards. Mix 3-4 teaspoons of white vinegar into 16 ounces of warm water, and your solution is ready to use. Spray the solution directly on the baseboard or a cloth and wipe the stains. It works perfectly on real wood and vinyl baseboards.

magic eraser baseboard wash

3) Magic Erasers

Also known as Mr. Clean magic erasers, melamine pads are how to clean really dirty baseboards best. They can remove tough stains, grime, dust, soap scum, and other stubborn marks easily.

But don’t scrub your baseboard too hard! These are essentially super-fine grit sanding pads that can remove the paint finish or damage the caulk if you’re not careful.

4) Baking Soda

Due to its disinfectant properties, baking soda can make the baseboards clean and bacteria-free.

First, mix a few tablespoons of baking soda and water in a cup to create a paste. The baseboard cleaning solution should feel slightly runnier than toothpaste and can be used to buff out stains easily. Then, use a rag or sponge to scrub it on the baseboard surface. Finish by wiping the baseboards dry with a damp microfiber cloth.

5) Castile Soap Solution

Castile Soap is a non-toxic baseboard cleaner made from olive, coconut, or avocado extracts. It’s gentler than a normal soap solution but has the same cleaning properties. Accordingly, a castile soap solution is the best way to clean baseboards made of MDF.

Best Way To Cleaning Baseboards in 5-Steps

Cleaning may not always be enjoyable, but these baseboard cleaning hacks can make it easier. Here are the best ways to clean baseboards like a pro, ensuring they remain spotless without breaking your back.

Prepare the Room

Before you start scrubbing away, preparing the room for an uninterrupted baseboard cleaning session is crucial.

Begin by moving furniture away from the walls to give you enough space to work. As you can imagine, it’s easiest to clean baseboards if you’re doing a move-in or move-out cleaning. But for a regular cleaning, move furniture a foot away from the walls so you can reach the baseboards comfortably.

baseboard cleaning preparation

If moving heavy furniture sounds like a daunting task, try sliding an old towel under the legs to protect your floors.

Next, lay down old towels or sheets along the baseboards to catch any drips. This simple step helps ensure that your focus remains on the baseboards, not avoiding a mess.

Vacuum Dust and Debris

Dust and debris accumulate most often in your baseboards, hiding in nooks and crannies.

Use your vacuum’s long brush attachment and gently run it along the top and front of the baseboards. This is an easy way to clean baseboards standing up and will suck up the loose dust, pet hair, and any other debris lurking there. We don’t recommend rushing this step.

In a pinch? Use a Swiffer duster or dry paintbrush to dust the baseboard quickly.

Wipe Down Baseboards with the Cleaning Solution

After dusting off the loose dust and dirt, it’s time to make those baseboards shine. In the previous steps, we helped you choose the right solution.

dusting baseboard room

The ultimate goal here is to clean the baseboard without soaking the wood. Accordingly, your damp cloth should be just wet enough to clean without dripping water all over the place.

First, mix your baseboard cleaner with the right proportion of lukewarm water in a bucket. Now, dip a soft, clean cloth or sponge into the mixture, wring it out well, and wipe down the baseboards gently. Pay extra attention to spots with visible dirt or scuff marks.

Scrub Grime and Stubborn Stains

Oftentimes, extra tough grime builds up when you don’t clean baseboards every 3 months. especially in kitchens and mudrooms.

Pre-soak one small section of baseboards at a time using a spray bottle of your cleaning solution and warm water. This will loosen the grime, and you can easily scrub off any stains from your baseboard.

really dirty baseboards scrub

Don’t let the water or cleaning solution sit too long before scrubbing with a soft bristle brush. If stains persist, switch to a stiff bristle brush and be extra careful not to damage baseboards. Avoid using too much vinegar, as the acidity will take off your baseboard finish. In addition, use cotton swabs dipped in vinegar and water to get into those pesky crevices.

Are grime and stains still visible after a light scrub? The next step varies depending on the type of baseboard in your home.

For White-Painted Baseboards

Baking soda is a simple yet effective solution for cleaning white-painted baseboards. Mix baking soda with water to create a runny paste.

Next, apply this mixture to the stained areas and allow it to sit for a few moments. Now scrub the area with a soft-bristled brush and wipe with a dry microfiber cloth or rag. Baking soda is gentler than other solutions, so it won’t scratch the paint.

painted versus stained baseboard

For stubborn stains, use a slightly damp melamine foam sponge or Mr. Clean Magic eraser to scrub the stain gently.

Lastly, a heavier-duty degreaser like Formula 409 may be necessary for extremely dirty or oily baseboards. However, to avoid damaging the paint, quickly wipe it off with a white terry cloth after spraying it.

For Stained Wood Baseboards

When cleaning clear-coated or stained wood baseboards, the approach should be gentle to maintain their natural beauty.

Opt for a mild, natural wood cleaner specifically designed for such surfaces. For those hard-to-reach spots, consider attaching an old brush or soft cloth to a stick for easy application.

Avoid using a melamine sponge, baking soda, too much vinegar, or over-scrubbing. These may remove the wood’s finish, leaving it dull and damaged. If available, your best bet is to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the wood.

Protect and Finish

Once the cleaning process is complete, always buff out any streaks or drips from the wood. Use a slightly damp or dry microfiber cloth to give your baseboards a beautiful finish.

cleaning baseboards dryer sheet

One baseboard cleaning hack is to rub them with a dryer sheet to help keep dust off over time. Use firm pressure and wrap a toothbrush with your dryer sheet to get into crevices. The anti-static properties of the dryer sheets will keep the baseboards looking fresher for longer.

Bonus Tip: How to clean baseboards without bending over?

Use the brush extension of your vacuum to clean your baseboard standing up. You can even tie the dryer sheet with your Swiffer mop to solve the problem of how to clean baseboards without bending over.

For more detailed cleaning tasks, consider sitting on a low stool as you work your way around the room. This approach minimizes strain on your back and knees, making it easier to focus on achieving spotless baseboards.

Cleaning baseboards is a boring task that requires a lot of time. A final piece of advice is to clean baseboards while listening to your favorite music. Follow these tips to turn this arduous task into a fun workout without killing your back.

Baseboard Maintenance Tips

Learning how to clean your baseboards is not just about removing dust or debris. It’s about extending their life and keeping your home looking polished. Here are some baseboard maintenance tips that will help you keep them in pristine condition for a longer period:

  • Make it a Regular Routine: Incorporate baseboard cleaning into your regular dusting routine. Use a microfiber cloth or a duster to swipe away dust quickly. It prevents buildup and makes deeper cleaning sessions less stressful.
  • Clean Spills and Scuffs Immediately: The sooner you tackle spills and scuffs, the easier they are to remove. For normal spills, a damp cloth can do the trick. A gentle eraser or a dab of cleaning solution on a cloth can work wonders for scuffs or tough stains.
  • Use Gentle Cleaning Solutions: Harsh chemicals can strip paint and damage wood finishes. Stick to mild soaps, vinegar solutions, or specialized wood cleaners for your baseboards to avoid harsh reactions. For detailed instructions on making your own cleaning solution, check out these DIY cleaner hacks using kitchen ingredients.

touch up painted white baseboards

  • Touch-Up Paint as Needed: Over time, paint can chip or wear down, especially in areas with high traffic. Keep a small amount of matching paint on hand to touch up these spots as needed. This keeps your baseboards looking fresh and new.
  • Seal and Protect Wood Baseboards: If you have natural wood baseboards, consider applying a sealant or wood conditioner every few years. This protects them from moisture and dirt and can enhance their natural beauty.
  • Look for Gaps: Sometimes, gaps can form between the baseboards and the wall, collecting dust and making cleaning more difficult. Use caulk to fill these gaps, creating a seamless, easier-to-clean surface. Use an acrylic latex caulk on your baseboards, as it is easiest to clean and maintain.

How Often Should I Clean My Baseboards?

Indeed, the longer you wait to clean baseboards, the more pet hair, dust, and grime you’ll have to deal with. Plus, regular maintenance keeps your baseboards looking crisp and fresher for longer.

We recommend deep cleaning your baseboards once every three months. After a deep clean, you should clean them with a quick dust or scrub every month. To limit dust buildup between cleanings, you can wipe them with a fabric softener dryer sheet.

As a rule of thumb, the average room has 50 linear feet of baseboards. Typically, it takes 15 minutes for the average homeowner to professionally clean 10 feet of baseboards.

deeper clean baseboard home
Your best bet is quickly dusting or wiping down your baseboards monthly. This ensures they stay beautiful for years and cuts down on the time spent scrubbing each time you clean by 30%.

Personally, I don’t have time to DIY clean my baseboards regularly. Instead, I hired a professional cleaner to come in bi-weekly, and we love it.

I ask Lynette and her team of housekeepers, to deep clean the baseboards in the entire home every three months. They are a few of the awesome maids we have at Sophia’s Cleaning Service, our local cleaning company in La Grange, Illinois.

What Type of Paint is Best For Baseboards

When painting baseboards, selecting the right type of paint is crucial for the finish’s appearance and durability.

Speaking of the finish, the best type of paint to use on baseboards is a semi-gloss sheen. This sheen protects baseboards better than flat, satin, or eggshell finishes. Additionally, semi-gloss baseboards are the easiest to clean, especially in higher-traffic rooms like mudrooms, hallways, and kitchens.

Here are the two main types of baseboard paints and the pros and cons of each.

Oil-based Trim Paint

For many professionals and DIY enthusiasts, oil-based trim paint remains a go-to choice. This type of paint contains alkyds, making it durable and resistant to scuffs and stains. It’s available in a wide array of shades and finishes, allowing for versatility in design. Oil-based trim paints dry slowly and give your baseboards a smooth, even look.

These days, the drawbacks of using oil-based baseboard paints are starting to outweigh the benefits. Oil-based paints are harder to clean up than water-based products, require special natural bristle brushes to apply, and are worse for the environment.

Enter alkyd-acrylic-based baseboard paints, the safer and better option to paint baseboards.

Alkyd-Acrylic Trim Paint

This hybrid baseboard paint combines the environmental benefits of water-based paints with the durability of oil-based paints. Alkyd-acrylic paints dry more quickly than their oil-based counterparts, yet they still leave behind a smooth, resilient surface.

The best paint for baseboards is Benjamin Moore Advance and Pro-Classic by Sherwin-Williams. Both come in semi-gloss finishes and are easier to clean than their oil-based counterparts. They are also lower in VOC and dry faster than oil-based.

Lastly, you won’t need any special brushes or tools to perform touch-ups with alkyd-acrylic paint. This makes your life much easier when your baseboards need a quick refresh and cleaning isn’t enough.


Our house cleaning experts receive many questions from homeowners about cleaning baseboards correctly. Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions to help you clean your baseboards like a professional!

How do you make baseboards look new?

To make baseboards look new, thoroughly clean them using a mix of warm water and a gentle cleaning solution to remove dust and dirt. After cleaning, assess any damage, such as chips or dents.

Once the baseboards are clean and repaired, apply a coat of primer and two thin layers of paint to refresh their appearance. Lightly sanding before painting is recommended for an extra smooth finish.

Also, removing the old caulk and re-caulking the seams can transform the look of old, cracked baseboard joints.

Can you use bleach on white baseboards?

It is advisable to avoid using bleach on white baseboards as it could harm or stain the surface. Bleach has a high pH, whereas wood typically has a slightly low pH. When bleach is applied to wood, it can alter the pH to a basic level, potentially harming the structure of the wood. Moreover, bleach can even lead to corrosion of metal fasteners, screws, and nails.

How do professionals clean baseboards?

Professionals often clean baseboards using a vacuum with a brush attachment to remove dust and dirt. Then, dip a microfiber cloth or sponge in the cleaning solution and wring out any excess moisture before wiping the baseboard. Hot water and wood-specific cleaners like Murphy’s Oil are used for stained wood baseboards.

To prevent damage, a cleaning professional always wipes the excessive liquid from the baseboard. The key is to complete one section of the baseboard at a time. With all of this in mind, the cost of professionally cleaning baseboards is likely worth it versus doing it yourself. 

Can I use dryer sheets to clean baseboards?

Yes! You can easily clean baseboards using dryer sheets. Wiping baseboards with a dryer sheet can collect dust and leave a residue that repels future dust. No question, this hack is convenient for quick dusting and leaves the baseboards smelling fresh. The static effect of dryer sheets reduces the dust and pet hair that sticks to the baseboards over time.

How to clean baseboards without bending over?

Use an extended vacuum attachment to avoid excessively bending over while cleaning baseboards. Furthermore, wrap a damp microfiber cloth around a broom to avoid scrubbing baseboards on your hands and knees. You can also use a stool to reduce the back strain.

An extended Swiffer duster or extension dusting tool from Amazon or Walmart can work wonders for monthly maintenance.

How to clean baseboards without removing paint?

To clean your baseboards without damaging the paint, you can safely use a mixture of warm water and a few squirts of dish soap. It’s important to immediately dry each cleaned area with a towel to prevent any moisture from lingering.

Moreover, be extra careful to avoid excess water on wood floors. As soon as you see a scuff or stain on your baseboards, scrub it so it does not set in. The longer you wait to clean it, the harder you’ll have to scrub to remove the stain.

Should my cleaning lady clean the baseboards?

Whether a cleaning lady should or should not clean baseboards largely depends on the service agreement between the homeowner and the cleaner. Usually, the cleaning lady takes care of quickly dusting or wiping down the baseboards on a monthly basis or every other visit.

A deeper cleaning of baseboards may be done every few months. Indeed, this involves a detailed scrubbing to remove scuff marks, accumulated dirt, and stains. Talk to your cleaning service or maid about which option they recommend for your home.

How do you clean baseboards and walls quickly?

To quickly clean baseboards and walls, use a vacuum with a brush attachment for dusting. Now, clean the surfaces with a microfiber cloth dipped in a solution of warm water and a mild cleaner like dish soap. You can also tie the cloth with a mop to avoid bending over while cleaning.

Use non-abrasive sponges and a gentle cleaning solution to avoid damaging walls. As a final note, a magic eraser is the best way to remove scuffs on walls. 

Want to learn more about how to clean like a professional housekeeper? Follow Sophia’s Cleaning on Instagram for more expert cleaning advice or learn more about our family-run cleaning company


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Written By:

Andre Kazimierski

Co-Owner, Sophia’s Cleaning Service

More about the author

Andre Kazimierski, co-owner of Sophia’s Cleaning Service, has built multiple successful home service companies and a tech startup. He applies his expertise to propel Sophia’s forward with his wife, Carolina, honoring his mother’s legacy. When not working, Andre likes playing pickleball and spending time with his dogs, Benny and Bruno.

About Sophia’s Cleaning

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Sophia’s Cleaning Service is a fully licensed, bonded, and insured cleaning service located in La Grange, IL. Our professional maids have cleaned residential homes and commercial offices in Chicago’s Western suburbs for over 39 years. Meet the owners of Sophia’s Cleaning Service on Youtube

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