Skirting boards have something of a passive presence in the home, and since they are not a directly ornamental or decorative feature, they are often overlooked when it comes to cleaning and particularly when maintaining a feature to ensure your house looks its best. But bright and shiny skirting boards freshen up a room and create an alluring border for other features, and you will certainly notice when skirting boards are returned to top condition if they weren’t before. 

As a result of residing close to the ground, skirting boards draw the short straw and are a magnet for the worst of the many household particulates which can accumulate on a daily basis. Dust settles in the grooves and upper profiles of a skirting board, while they can also attract dirt and grime alongside scuff marks from passing traffic. So how do you maintain your skirting boards in top condition? There are many solutions to this, but let’s start with one thing you definitely shouldn’t do: 

Disproving a social media hack 

We should know by now that anything that goes viral on social media isn’t necessarily true, or effective, in fact very often something reaches peak popularity because it isn’t true or effective, and we like to think this cleaning hack on TikTok falls into this category. Often cleaning hacks translate to ‘shortcuts because I can’t be bothered to do it properly’ and using fabric conditioner to clean skirting boards is one of these. 

The claim is that wiping down skirting boards with fabric conditioner removes dust, cleans and leaves a room feeling fresh, when only the last of these is even vaguely true. Indeed, this practice is neither effective nor safe. Doing this will leave an invisible, thin residual layer of chemical on your skirting boards which a pet or child can touch, is a fire risk as the material is flammable and actually attracts dust rather than removing it. The question is, what should we do instead? 

Install your skirting board correctly 

Before we even talk about cleaning skirting boards, keeping them in top condition is much easier if we have learnt how to install skirting boards correctly in the first place. Select the right size and style of skirting board, select a type of wood that is durable and attractive, and varnish or paint the skirting board to ensure it is protected.  

Preparing for cleaning 

Make sure you have the right tools in terms of a microfibre cloth, a duster and the long nozzle of a vacuum cleaner. You need to move all furniture and vacuum the floor around the skirting board before you start to remove any excess dirt or dust. You should also be prepared to get down on your hands and knees and put some effort into cleaning your skirting boards, there are no half measures here. But if you physically can’t do that, investing in a good mop is an alternative solution.  

If you have a choice of cleaning materials to use or a solution you are not 100% sure about, test your trial method on a small inconspicuous area of skirting board first. Ideally this would be an off-cut section you have spare, otherwise choose a corner or an area which isn’t entirely visible, just in case it goes wrong.  

How to clean your skirting boards 

  • Remove all the dust first – this is essential if you hope to thoroughly clean and refresh your skirting boards. You can use a brush, vacuum nozzle, a dry paint brush or cotton bud, but don’t forget you need to get into all the grooves where dust can accumulate.  
  • Scrub off any build-up – where you have persistent stains or solid build-up of grime or other materials, there is no substitute for giving the area a good scrub to leave a clear surface which you can clean and buff-up. 
  • Select a cleaning material – there are various options here, such as traditional warm soapy water, one part of water mixed with one part of white vinegar or lemon juice, or one part of water and two parts of baking soda mixed into a paste. The critical consideration is to ensure there is not too much moisture on the skirting board, assuming it is wooden. Use only a damp cloth to apply the solution rather than a wet cloth.  
  • Buff it up – you can now shine your skirting boards by reapplying varnish or paint, or you can try to apply a little baby oil, this gives an excellent shiny finish and also acts as a dust repellent. 

Contact Period Mouldings for all advice on skirting boards for your home 

You can apply many of these techniques for looking after other period features of the home, such as architrave, picture rails or period doors, but if you are specifically maintaining your skirting boards, contact our experts at Period Mouldings and we can advise on how to choose skirting boards, how to install skirting boards and how to paint skirting boards, all of which are effective techniques for ensuring your skirting boards remain in top condition.     

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