How to Clean Your Baseboards and Skirting Boards

It’s an unfortunate truth that even the most house-proud among us sometimes forget to clean the skirting boards (or baseboards here in America) on a regular basis, even though we may mop, polish and vacuum the floors and even the walls every week. My Nana was absolutely mental about cleaning the baseboards when I was a young girl growing up. It was my job to dry mop them every single Saturday without fail.

How to Clean Your Baseboards and Skirting Boards

One of the reasons for this omission is that we never really look at our baseboards; not closely, anyway. However, once we have given them a good clean, we’ll notice the difference. It’s important to start and maintain a good cleaning regime, then, and here’s how.

Work out if your skirting boards have a complex or a simple profile – this is dead easy; if it features curves, scrolls, rolls and mouldings, then it’s complex. If there’s just a slight dip, or a thinned-out top edge, or no moulding at all, then it’s simple. This will affect the way you clean them.

A smooth finish

You also need to determine if there’s any finish to your boards. Are they MDF, or gloss-covered wood? Varnish? Oiled? Natural? Any finish adds longevity to the board, but it also means you can use a little more water when you clean. Water, however, isn’t necessarily your best friend.

Fancy baseboards can become a dust trap, as it can gather in the fiddly cut-out lines and scrolls (or rebates). It can be a real pain to get the dust out and the temptation is to use soapy water here, but this can “set” the dust, so avoid it if you can.

Another reason to avoid water is because some materials and finishes – oils, MDF or untreated – can let in water and then the board starts to warp. This would be a shame if you just bought some gorgeous new boards from Even worse, the water can get into the wall itself. (Been there, done that, do not recommend it!)

What can you use, then?

If you don’t fancy using soapy water (and you shouldn’t by now), then you’ll be wondering what you can use. It’s quite simple, for smooth-profiled boards, a quick wipe with a barely-damp cloth will remove a lot of the dust. For highly-profiled boards, a clean, dry, soft-bristled dustpan brush with a small amount of furniture spray on will get into every crevice.

If your boards have been neglected for a while, then you can use a damp cloth with some detergent for the initial deep-clean, but make sure you dry it immediately after. Going forward, the dustpan brush, or even a vacuum cleaner nozzle, will do just fine.

Even if the boards have varnish or paint on, you should still be sparing with water as it does have a habit of seeping into small spaces due to capillarity.

Mold and grease

If you find that the boards in the kitchen have cooking grease on them, then you can use a small amount of washing up liquid on a damp cloth to remove it, before polishing the board with a dry cloth.

If there’s mold or mildew, add a small amount of bleach or mildew remover before drying off. If the mold returns within a few weeks, though, you may need to look for a damp problem in the wall behind it.

You should only need to damp-clean your boards once or twice a year once you’ve performed this first clean; after that, a quick vac or brush is all you need.

So fess up readers, do you clean your baseboards each week or do you forget about them? Let us know in the comments below!

2020 Kimberly Signature


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