Kitchen cabinets are exposed to constant grease, food splatter, and fingerprints. Knowing how to keep them clean without damaging them is important, since cabinets are one of the most expensive parts of the kitchen to replace.
There are a number of ways to properly clean and care for your wood cabinets. When choosing a cleaning method, it’s best to test a small, out-of-the-way area of the cabinet first, then wait a few hours to make sure the finish hasn’t been harmed.
Dish soap is alkaline-based, and when mixed with hot water will effectively break up grease and grime. It can be one of the simplest ways to keep your cabinets clean.
- Add dish soap to hot water. A good ratio is 5 percent dish soap to 95 percent hot water.
- Wet a soft cotton cloth with the soap and water solution, wring it out well, then wipe down the cabinets and drawers.
- Dampen another soft cloth with clean water, and rinse everything.
- Follow-up by drying the wet surfaces with a microfiber cloth.
White vinegar is excellent for cleaning greasy surfaces, and many cabinet retailer sites do recommend it as a cleaning solution for their wood cabinets. Because vinegar is acidic, you should always check with your cabinet manufacturer before using it.
- Prepare a mixture of one part distilled white vinegar, and two parts hot water. The hot water softens grease and dirt so it’s easier to wipe away. Pour the solution into a spray bottle.
- Mist the solution onto the cabinets and drawers, let it sit for a minute or two, then wipe everything clean with a damp, soft cloth. Use a microfiber cloth to dry the surfaces.
- Alternatively, mix the one-part vinegar and two-parts hot water in a container or bucket instead of using a spray bottle. Wet a clean, soft cloth with the mixture, wring it out, and wipe down cabinets and drawers. Wipe the surfaces with another cloth that’s been rinsed with clean water and has had most of the moisture squeezed out. Dry with a microfiber cloth.
- For extremely grimy cabinets, add a few drops of dishwashing detergent to the vinegar and water solution.
Baking Soda Mixtures
Baking soda is an abrasive substance, so be sure to wipe or rub gently to preserve the wood finish.
- To clean dried food particles, mix 2 tablespoons of baking soda in 1 cup of water.
- Dip a soft cloth into the mixture and use a circular motion to wipe the cabinets and drawers.
- Take another soft cloth that’s slightly damp with fresh water, rinse the surfaces, then dry with a microfiber cloth.
- For any remaining tough grease and stubborn food particles, mix one part baking soda with two parts water to make a paste. You can also use dish soap instead of water.
- Dab the paste onto the dirty areas with a clean, dry cloth, and let it sit for a few minutes. Use a damp cloth to wipe the paste away, using gentle rubbing motions until the grease or food particles are gone.
- Re-wipe the spots with a slightly wet cloth, then use a microfiber cloth to dry.
Murphy Oil Soap
Murphy oil soap is a popular cleaner for cutting through grease and grime and allowing the wood tones to shine through.
- Pour 1/4 to 1/2 cup of Murphy Oil Soap into a small bucket, and fill the bucket about halfway with hot water.
- Fill a second bucket with just warm water.
- Wet a soft cloth in the soapy mixture, wring it out, and gently wipe down the cabinets and drawers. Swap out the cloths and water mixture if they become dirty.
- Take a second cloth, dip it in the second bucket of clear warm water, and wring it out. Wipe the cabinets again to remove any cleaner and leftover grime.
- Lastly, take a dry microfiber or soft cotton cloth and wipe down the cabinets.
Cleaning Dos and Don’ts
- Do clean drawer pulls and door handles with a damp cloth, rinse, and dry.
- Do use an old toothbrush for tight spots. Ornate trim or deep grooves can be difficult to access with a cloth. Dip an old toothbrush into your cleaning solution, and gently scrub those difficult places. Pay attention to any hard-to-reach areas around cabinet and drawer handles or knobs, as well as to the edges of cabinet doors.
- Do start cleaning the upper cabinets first so any drips and dirt falling on lower cabinets get cleaned up as you work your way down.
- Do a deep cleaning about twice a year. Empty your cabinets and drawers, and wipe down the shelves, cabinet interiors, and inside of drawers with your chosen cleaning mixture.
- Don’t let your cleaning cloth get wet enough to drip. Too much moisture can damage the wood.
- Don’t let water from a cleaning solution run into the cabinet hinges — it will rust the hardware. Instead, use a dry microfiber cloth to wipe dust and grime off the metal. For difficult spots, just spray or dab one or two drops of your cleaning solution onto the cloth, scrub the spot, and wipe it dry.
Cleaning Products to Avoid
The following products should not be used on wood cabinets:
- Strong soaps, harsh detergents, multi-purpose and abrasive cleaning products such as: scouring powders and pads, tub and sink cleaners, steel wool, or self-polishing waxes.
- Dish cloths or sponges. They can contain residue from food, oil, or harsh cleaning products, as well as particles that can scratch your cabinets.
- Paper towels or similar products that can scratch surfaces, especially high gloss cabinetry.
- Solvent or petroleum-based products, such as nail-polish removers, mineral spirits, or paint thinners.
- Silicone based cleaning, polishing, or waxing products.
- Bleach, ammonia, or cleaning products that contain these.
Splatters and Spills
Wipe up splatters and spills on cabinets when they happen. Then clean the area with warm water or a dish soap-water solution. Left-on food, water, liquids, grease and oil can permanently damage or discolor the finish on cabinets.
Nicks on Wood Cabinetry
Touch-up pens and markers available, either individually or in kit form, for hiding minor blemishes. You can also get tinted putty sticks for filling deeper nicks, gouges, and scratches. Your cabinet retailer can help you purchase a touch-up kit that matches the color of your cabinets.
To keep your major appliances operating at their best, call the pros at C&W Appliance Service at (855) 358-1496 or complete our online service request form.