How to Clean Wood Baseboards Inside Your Home

Living room with a sofa and hardwood floor

A brand new wooden surface adds warmth, color and an old-world kind of beauty to any home. Wood trim and baseboards, however, requires regular cleaning. When learning how to clean wood trim, a few things need to be considered, including the wood itself. What kind of finish you have determines your method of cleaning and what supplies you'll need.


The cleaner you use on your wood trim will depend on the finish. If painted, your wood trim requires mild soap and water. Use a mild, natural wood cleaner on clear-coated or stained wood trim. If the wood has excessive buildup, add paint thinner to your solution to help, according to This Old House Magazine. This will allow you to remove layers of old cleaner and grime to refresh the look of the trim. Rough, unfinished trim such as wood ceiling beams only needs dusting.

Materials for Cleaning Baseboards & Trim

Other than the appropriate cleaners, some basic tools make cleaning wood trim easier and more efficient. A microfiber dusting cloth works great to attract dust that develops in between heavier cleaning. A pole with a dusting attachment aids in reaching crown molding and other hard-to-reach wood trim for regular maintenance. You'll need a bucket and a step ladder for more thorough cleaning. If your trim has carved detailing, you'll need a small brush to navigate the texture. You can use a toothbrush or other small, soft-bristled scrub brush.


Assemble the supplies you'll need, and start by dusting all of your wood trim. A quick dusting makes it easier to clean and see where you need to scrub. When you're ready to scrub:

  • Fill a bucket with warm water and ¼ cup of Murphy® Oil Soap. Begin at one end of your house and work your way through.
  • Wipe all trim with a soft rag dipped in the cleaning solution. Ring the rag so it doesn't drip.
  • Scrub with the brush as needed in carved details or on any heavier grime.


Instead of a step ladder, save time by using a pole with a rag wrapped around the end for smooth crown molding and door trim. If you also have wooden doors and cabinets, clean them at the same time you clean the trim. Your cleaning solution will likely become dirty if you have a lot of trim - dump it and refresh as needed.

Keep in mind children often enjoy cleaning jobs that require a bucket. If you have kids running around, let them help clean the baseboards and door trim. It sets good habits and teaches them how to maintain a home.

A Cleaning Schedule

If you don't already have a cleaning schedule that includes details like wood trim, it helps to make one. Cleaning wood baseboards, crown molding and door and window trim often gets overlooked in routine household chores. Plan to dust weekly or biweekly depending on the level of dust in your home, and whether other residents have allergies or asthma. Crown molding and baseboards attract a lot of dust. Ultimately, a more thorough cleaning with wood soap should be done as needed, but at least twice a year. Include the wood trim in your spring and fall cleaning. Of course some homes require a more frequent job: If you have pets or children, you might need to wash the trim around doors and in high-traffic areas.

Learning how to clean wood trim may feel time-consuming, but when you keep up with a regular cleaning schedule, it requires less work each time. Having cleaned regularly, a quick dusting is all the wood trim needs to stay looking fresh and warm. Your seasonal deep-cleaning helps the trim last longer and makes the in-between cleaning easier; dust sticks less to a clean surface.

This article was brought to you by Colgate-Palmolive Company, the makers of Murphy® Oil Soap. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of the Colgate-Palmolive Company.