Sweeping and dusting are some of our least favourite chores — admit it. It’s tedious, the dust gets everywhere, and there’s so much floor space around the house! But you dig out the vacuum and get to work, and soon enough you’ve got a tidy floor… but your skirting boards are still dirty.
It’s tempting, really, to leave them be. After all, a skirting board isn’t at eye level — who’d notice? (You will, that’s who.) But tidy them you must, because a clean home is a happy home. And we’ve got a handy guide on how to clean skirting boards to help you out.
How often should you clean?
In an ideal world, we’d get away with cleaning our house once a month, and still have it look neat and tidy the rest of the time. But skirting boards (also known as baseboards) are a prime location for dust and dirt to settle because of their proximity to the floor.
It’s also possible for any spills and messes to stain the material, particularly in dining rooms and kitchens. And for houses with kids, scuff marks from energetic activity or toys can make your skirting board look less than pristine.
So how often should you actually clean skirting boards?
Any stains or grime should be wiped off immediately so the stain doesn’t set into the boards. Once it seeps in, it may become impossible to remove in the future. Leaving food stains could also potentially attract pests into your house, and nobody wants that.
Light cleaning — such as dusting or vacuuming — should be done once a week to prevent a build up of dust on the skirting boards. You can stretch this to two weeks if your schedule is difficult.
The good news is thorough cleaning can take place once every few months, just to get your skirting boards looking shiny and new again. Then after that, it’s back to simple dusting until a new season rolls around.
How to clean skirting boards
Now that we know not to neglect this particular piece of interior decoration, how do you clean your skirting boards? There are two levels of cleaning — light cleaning, which you should do more frequently; and more thorough cleaning. There are several ways for you to keep your skirting boards clean — which you choose depends on your equipment and your preference!
This is mainly to dust off the edges of your skirting boards and prevent dirt from building up too much. Just mind your back while you work — clean skirting boards are not worth the aches and pains after!
Keep it simple: just take a (long-handled!) feather duster or brush, and run it over the skirting board to brush off the dust. Do this before you sweep your floors, so you can clean up all the dirt later!
2. Spot Cleaning
To get rid of the occasional streaks and scuff marks, you can wipe them off. Get an alcohol wipe, or to be more environmentally friendly, wet a soft cloth and rub the dirt to clean off. Dry any damp spots after.
A vacuum comes in handy for all sorts of cleaning needs, including your skirting boards! Use the appropriate vacuum attachment for each purpose: a brush attachment to dislodge any dirt, and a nozzle to suction dust from crevices and corners. A vacuum has the added advantage of leaving no dust and dirt on the floor, so no need to clean up afterwards!
Light cleaning might keep things looking spick-and-span temporarily, but dirt and grime still build up over the weeks. Like all things in our homes, from the oven to the sink, skirting boards need more thorough cleaning every few months. You can choose your preferred way to clean based on the mildness of the cleaning product!
1. Soap and Water
You can’t go wrong with this most basic of cleaning solutions. Add a teaspoon of dish soap (or other mild detergent) to half a bucket of water and mix until sudsy. Dip a cloth or sponge into the soapy water, and squeeze out the excess. Start wiping down your skirting boards, then follow up with a damp cloth to clean up the foamy residue. Finish up with a clean, dry cloth to absorb any remaining moisture.
Pro Tip: if you don’t feel like squatting or kneeling, try a long-handled squeegee or a mop! Just dip into the soapy water and lather it onto the boards.
Use protective gear if you decide to clean skirting boards with bleach — the harsh chemical product can damage both your skirting boards and your skin. But for white boards, bleach is excellent for getting rid of tough stains and making your skirting look good as new. Read the instructions on the product first before using, and always make sure to wear gloves and goggles.
3. White Vinegar
Is there anything white vinegar can’t do? Add one part white vinegar to five parts warm water to get your cleaning solution. Dip a soft cloth or sponge into the mixture, wring out the excess, then wipe along your skirting board. Vinegar is milder than bleach, but works just as well to remove tough stains — and don’t be afraid to double-wipe any stubborn marks! You can go over the skirting boards with half a lemon after to help cut the scent. Then wipe with a dry cloth to absorb any excess moisture.
4. Steam Cleaner
Here’s an interesting option — steam cleaners! No chemical products needed. Test the steam cleaner out on a hidden corner of your boards first to ensure it won’t cause any damage. If it works out, simply turn on your steam cleaner and run along the skirting boards to remove any dust and dirt.
Besides the usual cleaning methods, there are a few other tips and tricks for getting your skirting boards to look fresh and clean.
Use a dryer sheet afterwards. No, really! After cleaning skirting boards — whether a light dust-down or a more thorough wash — rub your boards down with dryer sheets to deter the static build-up of dust. It can also help remove any odours from cleaning agents.
Invest in a baseboard mop. They exist! And the mop is designed to get at the difficult angles while letting you work standing up. Plus, you’ll only have to use one tool every time you need to clean your skirting boards.
Rinse and dry immediately after thorough cleaning so the moisture doesn’t set into the wood boards. Nobody wants to invite mould into their home, and wet wood is never good.
Leave it to the professionals! Sometimes we need to set down the duster and put our homes in the hands of professional cleaners, since they know how to clean skirting boards better than we do. They’ll get the job done in the best way, letting you come home to clean skirting boards — and a clean home in general. Just remember to dust your skirting again after a week!