Growing up, I absolutely loathed how clean and tidy our house was at all times. OK, I didn't hate that it was clean, but the fact that my mom always insisted that dishes were cleaned the second they hit the sink, and bedsheets and pillows tucked and fluffed before the day even got going.
I found it endlessly annoying as a kid to live in what one person close to me once described as a "model home"—sparkling kitchen counters and all. But now, as a result, I can't imagine living anywhere even remotely disorganized (have you met my kitchen storage MVP yet?) or messy (my BFF is a purple vacuum).
In other words, I've turned into my mother.
An expert in just about anything related to cleaning, my mom has passed along some of her best tips and tricks to me over the years. But there's one that sticks out to me from the rest: Never ever forget to clean your baseboards.
Remember your baseboards? They're the strips of covering—sometimes with decorative crevices or moldings—that hide the spot where your floors meet the wall. They're also probably one of the most neglected areas in people's homes (data unscientifically collected back when I was actually able to visit friends and family).
If I had to wager a guess (20 bucks, anyone?), your baseboard are probably covered in a layer of dust at the moment—especially the parts hidden in corners or behind furniture.
Luckily, cleaning your baseboards is a relatively quick and easy project. Even better, you only need to do it about once a month (give or take, depending on how quickly they get dirty). It may seem like a small thing, but trust me when I say it can freshen up the feel of any room from the moment you're finished.
Step 1: First things first, you'll want to push any furniture out of the way that might be blocking some of your baseboards. If a piece is hard to move on your own (as many are in my apartment), well, you can ignore 'em for now and clean those areas when you move one day.
Step 2: If it's been a while since you've given your baseboards some TLC, you'll want to start by getting rid of any lingering dust or grime. There are two ways to do this: 1) using your vacuum's dusting attachment to suck it all up or 2) wiping off dust with a microfiber towel or dry Swiffer cloth. Option two will require you to get down on the floor, so it's not a bad idea to break out the yoga mat (or even an old towel) to protect your knees.
Step 3: You're already on the third and final step! Mix together a solution of warm water and a gentle dish soap that's safe for your baseboards—Becky Rapinchuk of the Clean Mama blog recommends 4 to 5 cups of water to a few teaspoons of soap. Soak a microfiber cloth in the solution, wring it out (you don't want it too damp), then wipe down the baseboards. Once they're dry, you're all set.
What clever cleaning tips do you have up your sleeve? Tell us in the comments!
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Erin Alexander is the Associate Editor at Food52, covering pop culture, travel, foods of the internet, and all things #sponsored. Formerly at Men’s Journal, Men’s Fitness, Us Weekly, and Hearst, she currently lives in New York City.