Whether you work off a structured cleaning schedule and a detailed cleaning checklist or you just like to clean your home intuitively and as needed, there’s one area you might not be cleaning often enough. In fact, it’s possible you’re neglecting it entirely.
While you likely hoover and mop on a weekly basis, we wanted to know how often to clean your baseboards.
What are baseboards?
The first step, of course, is to determine if you have baseboards. This is the common name for the board that covers the lowest part of your wall, and it’s also occasionally called skirting, as well. Baseboards are usually made of wood or vinyl, and they can be just a few inches tall or they might come up further. Some are completely flush against the wall, while others are more ornate and might protrude slightly, creating more of a ledge.
'Baseboards add a nice decorative touch to any room and also help protect the drywall, but need to be cleaned regularly to prevent the buildup of dirt, dust and scuff marks,' says Marla Mock, President, Molly Maid, a Neighborly company. 'Since they aren’t touched by vacuum cleaners, brooms, or mops during regular cleanings, baseboards are an often overlooked area in the home.'
For being such a small and simple part of your home, it turns out, this is an area cleaning experts are eager to discuss. Here’s what they have to say about cleaning your baseboards.
As president of Molly Maid, Marla is responsible for the overall leadership and growth of the Neighborly-owned cleaning company throughout the US. With over 20 years of business experience, Marla is known as a dynamic executive with expertise in operations, process improvement, and franchise experience in the home service category.
Why you should clean your baseboards
It’s easy to understand why your baseboards might become a cleaning blindspot. They’re low enough to the ground that your own eye rarely travels there. But Jill Koch of Jill Comes Clean says dirty baseboards are actually very noticeable. In fact, according to Koch, a dirty baseboard is an easy way to ruin the whole feel of a clean room.
'You can have a clean room but if the baseboards are dirty it can take away from how clean the room feels. Baseboards, like anything else, collect dust – especially on the top ledge,' she says. 'Because they line our homes and the parts not covered by furniture are exposed, it can become very apparent when they are dirty.'
This is why, according to Kathy Cohoon of Two Maids Cleaning, whether you clean them monthly or weekly, baseboard cleaning should be done with some regularity. ‘Routine cleaning will also help keep baseboards and trim looking fresh and prolong the lifespan of materials,’ she says.
Kathy Cohoon works as a representative and cleaning expert for Two Maids & A Mop, a Tallahassee, Florida-based company that provides residential house cleaning services.
Wipe your baseboards before mopping or vacuuming
Cohoon also shared another pro tip: the top-to-bottom approach to cleaning definitely applies here. That means baseboard cleaning should come before mopping.
‘Definitely clean baseboards first so you don’t risk getting dust or debris on a freshly cleaned floor,’ she says.
Clean your baseboards at least monthly
If you’re worried baseboard cleaning just sounds like something else you need to do every week, Koch assures us it’s not that intensive.
'Luckily, this doesn't need to be a weekly chore,' she says. 'If you can clean them weekly, great! That would be a good way to stay on top of them, but if you can't aim to do them at least monthly.'
Mock has similar advice, though she said a monthly wipedown is really all you need. Then, save the scrubbing for your bi-annual deep clean. 'Wiping them down once a month with a cleaning cloth and water or an all-purpose spray means you won’t have to scrub them down with soapy water more often than once every year or two,' she says.
Another tip with no cleaning solution required? Vacuum your baseboards with the upholstery brush attachment, or dust with a microfiber cloth, at Amazon, or a dry sponge, at Amazon, for a quick dust-off, according to Mock.
Jill Koch is an expert in all things organizing and cleaning. She’s a mom, wife, nurse, and former news reporter who never lost the sharing side of reporting, and thus her blog, Jill Comes Clean, was born.
'All you need is a damp cloth'
As with anything home cleaning related, Koch says there are plenty of hacks to be found. She explains that some suggestions include wiping your baseboards with dryer sheets, as well as adding fabric softener to soapy water before cleaning.
Koch, however, disagrees with both. 'Some people swear by those methods but for me, all you need is a damp cloth,' she explains. 'Microfiber is also ideal because it attracts dust better than a regular cloth but a cotton cloth is fine, too.'
If you love a good home hack, though, we don’t blame you – and neither does Koch. Just be sure to rinse well if you use fabric softener. 'Excess could create a sticky residue that I would think would end up attracting dust to it,' she says.
On the other hand, Mock says if she doesn’t use soap, she uses another household favorite – vinegar and hot water. Dish soap will also work, but 'regular cleanings only require water or an all-purpose spray,' Mock explains.
Cohoon also gave us a warning. ‘Don’t use overly harsh chemicals like bleach or oversaturate baseboards with moisture as it can damage the baseboard and wall behind it,’ she says. ‘If you wet the boards to scrub away scuffs and dirt, be sure to dry well.’
It doesn’t have to be a backbreaker
If cleaning your baseboards sounds like a bad deal for your back, Mock gets it. 'Cleaning areas near the floor usually involves bending over for long periods of time, leading some people to avoid baseboard cleaning altogether,' she says. 'However, baseboards are not very high-maintenance.'
Mock’s biggest tip is to avoid overdoing it. ‘Do just one room at a time to prevent getting burned out or having a sore back,’ she suggests. ‘If you have a sore back or injury, use telescoping cleaning wands or a toilet brush with a sock over the end and stools/cushions to avoid bending over too much.’
Koch agrees and assures us there are still more options than using your hand. 'Put [your cloth] on the end of a Swiffer and walk around your home running that over the baseboards,' says Koch. 'You can also use an extendable duster, or there’s a product called The Baseboard Buddy, at Walmart that is contoured to fit the shape of baseboards and get that top ledge.'
How can I clean baseboards more comfortably?
Depending on the size of your room and the severity of dirty coating your baseboards, it might not be a quick run around – but Mock assures us it doesn’t have to be painful, either. ‘Grab a sturdy bucket or a small stool so you have somewhere to sit while you clean,’ Mock says. ‘A folded towel can provide cushion for your knees while you scooch and scrub.’
So, even if you haven’t been regularly scrubbing your baseboards, it’s ok! Our experts assure us it’s never too late to get started and make it a part of your regularly scheduled cleaning routine.
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Ashley Chalmers is a freelance writer for Homes & Gardens with over 10 years' experience as a digital writer and content creator. Ashley started her career in entertainment and fashion PR in New York, before moving to the French countryside and taking up travel blogging. Now, Ashley lives in London. Her passion for travelling is only matched by her love of making her house feel like a home, and she loves to include her finds from around the world in her decor.
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