Cleaning

The One Spot in Your Home You're Definitely Forgetting to Clean

According to my mother.

August  5, 2020
Photo by Rocky Luten

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).

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Top Comment:
“Sorry Food 52. Wow! Clean your baseboards! Duh! Here's a suggestion. If you keep calling even the most obvious "ideas" genius, like this one, who's going to believe you after a while about when you have some really genius things to offer (as you really do! If someone's baseboards are "covered in dust" it's not because they don't know the baseboards are there; don't know they have to be cleaned; and (gasp) don't know they have to move the stuff that's in front of the baseboards to actually get at them and clean them. Here are some other reasons: Meh! big deal. Or it's number 325 on my to-do list. Or gosh - the under dust-maid hasn't come in this week. Please stop treating your fans like this. I love Food 52 for a whole lot of things, and have overlooked this inane tone in some articles for a long time. But stop abusing our love. If you want to give some helpful advice for some cleaning hacks, go ahead. But cut out the breathless tone of discovery. Puleez??????”
— Rosalind P.
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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.

Here's how to spruce up your baseboards:


How to Clean Your Baseboards

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!

This post contains products independently chosen (and loved) by our editors and writers. As an Amazon Associate, Food52 earns an affiliate commission on qualifying purchases of the products we link to.

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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.

13 Comments

Debi September 25, 2020
Just use a broom on the baseboards; it gets into all of the cracks & crevices, and keeps the dust from accumulating. I love your site!
 
Ryder August 26, 2020
I couldn’t let this pass without mentioning baseboard heaters. We had moved into a rental house recently vacated by “ideal” renters who supposedly kept the place in stellar condition. It was about 40 years old, looked a little grimy around the edges to me, and the aged carpet smelled not-so-fresh and was soaking wet in one room. The kitchen stove was thick with grease.
What really confirmed my opinion was the first time I vacuumed the hallway. I lifted the cover on the baseboard heater and underneath was a long thick clump of dust and hair that looked like an 8 foot tail of an animal. Yecchh!!! Plus fire hazard!
We showed it all to the landlord and received our cleaning deposit back, on the spot, a week after we had moved in.
 
Rosalind P. August 10, 2020
Sorry Food 52. Wow! Clean your baseboards! Duh! Here's a suggestion. If you keep calling even the most obvious "ideas" genius, like this one, who's going to believe you after a while about when you have some really genius things to offer (as you really do! If someone's baseboards are "covered in dust" it's not because they don't know the baseboards are there; don't know they have to be cleaned; and (gasp) don't know they have to move the stuff that's in front of the baseboards to actually get at them and clean them. Here are some other reasons: Meh! big deal. Or it's number 325 on my to-do list. Or gosh - the under dust-maid hasn't come in this week. Please stop treating your fans like this. I love Food 52 for a whole lot of things, and have overlooked this inane tone in some articles for a long time. But stop abusing our love. If you want to give some helpful advice for some cleaning hacks, go ahead. But cut out the breathless tone of discovery. Puleez??????
 
trs August 11, 2020
Wow! That’s quite the comment! I have a suggestion for you. If you’re not a fan of this article, or any other, simply skip over it. Tips and suggestions for any number of things can be helpful to so many others. Since you’re so intelligent, and clearly above the rest of us, I would expect your brilliant and accomplished mind to unaffectedly refrain from wasting your precious time reading it, let alone the time it took to bless us all with your commentary. My Mom was like the author’s in her cleanliness. She taught me many helpful and wonderful things. One of them was, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all!” Maybe your energy would be better spent spreading kindness and positivity instead of making contemptuous remarks to someone who, undoubtedly, worked very hard on a helpful, cheerful piece. Wishing you peace and light. And to those of you who read this, I hope you’re all staying safe & well through this challenging time. Let us all remember to be kind and utilize my Mom’s wise words.
 
Rosalind P. August 12, 2020
You know what? You are absolutely right. I should not have posted that. I don't think there's any bigger fan of F52 than me and I've said it a thousand times. That tone still grates....not the actual advice. BUT I should have just deleted my snarky note. My apologies.
 
Rosie C. August 12, 2020
They're going to be as bad as BuzzFeed if they don't keep the content up to standards.
 
SueBah August 9, 2020
I live with baseboards in a century old home so they are substantial, ridged and need extra care/scouring even when tackled on a (fairly) regular basis. When my boys were younger and quibbling between themselves, I silently presented each of them with an old toothbrush and a tiny bucket and assigned them baseboards to clean in separate areas of the house. They "fondly" recall this Dickensian punishment now - but hey, those baseboards were ACE!
 
Arati M. August 9, 2020
Lol! A clever idea, if there ever was one!
 
lkahn August 9, 2020
This is directed to Erin Alexander’s post. We must have had the same mother because your baseboard cleaning post and reference to dishes Being clean the minute they hit the sink that’s how I grew up and I’ve now taking it one step further. I wish I could say the same for my daughter but she’ll feel the same way when she has a family. Your article was great it made me sign up for this.
 
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Erin A. August 10, 2020
Thank you so much, lkahn!
 
GigiR August 6, 2020
Might have suggested this before. To clean your microwave: slice up and squeeze the juice out of 4-5 lemons into a large 4 cup measuring cup or bowl. Fill 3/4 of the way with water. Put in the microwave and nuke for about 8 minutes.
Carefully avoid the steam when you open the door. Wipe the inside clean, including the ceiling. I was amazed at how well this worked. And it smelled lovely.
 
Arati M. August 6, 2020
Hi Gigi. This is the method I use as well, thank you for sharing with all of us. And you're right about cautioning about the steam! The first time, I was less careful...will never make the same mistake again. Thanks to you, I'm reminded to clean my microwave today!
 
BeeBait August 9, 2020
I also "steam" clean my microwave, but I soak my dish cloth in a bowl of vinegar water and nuke for about 5 minutes. (no more stinky dish cloth) Then do not open the microwave for another 5 - 10 minutes letting the steam do it's magic. I cleaned a lunch room microwave this way and people thought it was new....