How to Clean Baseboards and Keep them Dust-Free
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Discover how to clean your home’s baseboards even if you have a bad back. You’ll see so much less dust floating around when you’re done.
The wood trim that runs around the base of a room’s walls has a different name depending on where you live. Some people refer to them as baseboards. In other areas, they’re known as skirting boards or skirting. Other names include mopboards, mopping boards, and floor molding or base molding. But, no matter where you’re from, that trim at the bottom of your walls collects a lot of dust, pet hair, and other debris.
So, cleaning your baseboards is a fantastic way to reduce dust. But this chore is also a pain — especially if you have a bad back or bad knees. Here’s some good news, though: there are ways to clean baseboards without bending over and tricks that keep baseboards from attracting dust once you’ve cleaned them. Read on to learn how!
How to Deep Clean Your Home’s Baseboards
Give your baseboards a deep cleaning once a year to remove grime and buildup, then keep them clean with an easy no-bending maintenance routine. (Time required varies — usually around 20 minutes per room.)
- Broom or vacuum with attachments
- Lint-free cleaning cloths
- Bucket of warm water
- Liquid dish soap
- Cotton swabs or old toothbrush
- Magic Eraser (for scuffs)
- Thick towel or yoga mat for your knees
Step 1: Prepare the Room
After you’ve gathered your materials, you’ll want to get the room ready before you start cleaning baseboards. This involves pulling furniture away from the walls, so ask a family member or friend to help if you need it. Also, open the curtains even if they’re not long enough to reach the mopboards — you need good light to see what you’re doing.
Step 2: Dry Dust
Start cleaning baseboards at the room’s entrance. Work your way around the room in one direction using your broom or vacuum with the dusting attachment to get rid of the dust. Pay special attention to the very top edge of the mopboard since that horizontal surface collects a lot of dust. Then clean the floor to remove any dust you’ve knocked down.
Step 3: Clean Grime
If you have a bad back or knees and need to clean grimy baseboards without bending over, be sure to read my tips further down this page before you start scrubbing.
- Fill a bucket with warm water and add a small squirt of liquid dish detergent. (Or mix up a batch of homemade all-purpose cleaning spray.)
- Dip a lint-free cloth in the soapy water and wring it out well, then gently scrub the spots to remove heavy soil. Be sure the cloth isn’t dripping water — you don’t want to soak your floor or saturate the baseboard.
- Remember to clean baseboards from the bottom up so you don’t wind up with soapy streak marks or soaking wet floors.
- Dampen the Magic Eraser and use it to rub away scuffs and black marks.
- Once you’re done, go over the area with a clean, dry cloth and move to the next spot.
Step 4: Touch Up the Finish
This step is absolutely not necessary but can make a big difference in how a room looks. It’s also good to do if you’re planning to put your home on the market or you’re finishing renovations and want to add an extra bit of visual appeal.
For painted baseboards: Cracked or peeling paint turns into dust over time. So, while your baseboards are clean, take a moment to touch up any areas that need it. Use medium-grit sandpaper to remove paint flakes, then go over the area with a fine grit to smooth it. Wipe the spot clean with a damp cloth, then dry it. Apply touchup paint to the area and let it dry.
For unpainted baseboards: Touch up marks in unpainted wood baseboards with a scratch cover. (Read how to get rid of scratches in wood.) Treat cracked or flaking varnish as paint and use the steps above. Use furniture polish to shine finished wood, or moisturize and seal bare, unfinished wood baseboards by rubbing them with linseed oil and waiting 24-72 hours to dry before proceeding.
Step 5: Put the Room Back Together
Wait for the baseboards and floor to completely dry before you put the furniture back in its place. If you have carpeting, that can take an hour or more. You can speed up the drying process by covering them with a thick towel and standing on it to blot up excess moisture. Aiming fans at the area can also help.
Once the floor is dry, put everything back where it goes, and you’re done! Or you can take a few extra minutes to do the things below that keep your baseboards from collecting dust.
Cleaning Baseboards without Bending Over
To dust your baseboards without bending over, use a broom, a long-handled duster, or your vacuum cleaner’s wand with a dusting attachment. Scrubbing grimy baseboards without bending over or getting on your knees is a bit harder, though. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Here are some things to try:
- An angled extension scrubber (I use this one on my baseboards and also my shower walls and jetted tub)
- A damp cloth or sock attached to a yardstick with a rubber band
- A microfiber mop or clean sponge mop
- A Swiffer with a wet pad
Since baseboard styles and heights vary, you may need to try a few of the methods above to clean baseboards without bending over until you find one that works for your home. Then follow the tips below to keep your baseboards from getting dusty, and you might not ever have to scrub them again.
How to Keep Baseboards from Getting Dusty
Preventing messes is almost always easier than cleaning them. That’s true with cleaning your home’s baseboards, too.
The Extra Step that Repels Dust
Once you’ve gone through the effort of deep cleaning them, take a few moments before you reassemble the room to run a dryer sheet over them, especially that top horizontal lip where all the dust collects. Dryer sheets contain anti-static ingredients that also repel dust, so they can help keep your baseboards clean.
To make this step extra easy, tuck the dryer sheet into the holes on a Swiffer dry mop or use a rubber band to attach it to your regular mop (when it’s dry), then you won’t have to bend over or kneel to do it. (Here are some more ways to use dryer sheets, too.)
Maintain Your Clean Baseboards
Deep-cleaning baseboards is a great task to include when you’re Spring Cleaning. For the rest of the year, you can keep your baseboards looking good by dusting them once a month or so with an extension duster or your vacuum’s dusting attachment. Or give your kids this chore — then you won’t have to bend over to dust baseboards or lift a finger at all.
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