Cleaning Kitchen Cabinets FAQs
Kitchen cabinets collect more grease, food spills, and moisture than most other parts of the house. Grime builds up fastest around handles of doors and drawers, which are constantly opened by sticky hands. Greasy soil comes off more easily if it isn't allowed to build up too long.
Painted wood, metal, laminated plastic or wood-grain vinyl surfaces can be cleaned with detergent and warm water solution. Rinse with a cloth or sponge dampened in clean water. Using a dry cloth or paper towel to wipe the surface dry prevents streaking. Painted, plastic, and metal surfaces, may be cleaned occasionally with a creamy liquid wax, which leaves a protective coating that retards soiling. If the finish is hard and in good condition, this extra step may not be needed.
Most all-purpose household cleaners may also be used; read the label to be sure it can be used on that surface, and follow directions exactly. Test inside a door to be sure it will not harm the finish. NEVER use scouring powder or other abrasives on cabinets as they will damage the finish! On painted metal, or plastic surfaces, using an appropriate spray-on all-purpose household cleaner on stubborn sticky spots should remove them; rinse thoroughly afterward.
On natural finished wood, with a heavy buildup of grease and grime, that will not come off with special wood cleaners, you may need to use a straight solvent such as paint thinner. This is highly flammable and toxic to breathe.
BE SURE THERE ARE NO OPEN FLAMES OR PILOT LIGHTS OR SPARKS IN THE KITCHEN OR IN ROOMS AROUND THE KITCHEN, AND HAVE OPEN WINDOWS FOR GOOD VENTILATION. REMOVING DOORS AND DRAWERS AND WORKING OUTDOORS, WITH NO FLAMES OR SPARKS NEARBY, MAY BE A GOOD ALTERNATIVE.
Some wood cabinet cleaners contain waxes which leave a shine or medium luster on the surface, and protect the wood. If the wood finish seems dull after cleaning, you may want to apply a solvent-based wood wax, which may or may not require buffing to create a luster.
Natural finished wood cabinets may be cleaned with a variety of commercial products, usually sprays, made for this purpose. Read the label to be sure it can be used on the finish, and follow directions exactly. These have a solvent base, so read and follow carefully cautions about ventilation, and make sure there is no spark or flame or pilot light burning in the area that could cause a fire. Dispose of cloths used in a tightly sealed container, again not near a spark or flame. Test inside a door to be sure the cleaner will not harm the finish before starting on other surfaces; they can damage some. Be careful with overspray - it can make a floor slippery.
Always test on the inside of a door to be sure it will not harm the finish. Dampen a cloth with the thinner-solvent and rub vigorously on the cabinets. Refold the cloth as it picks up dirt, and change to clean cloths when needed, storing used cloths in a closed metal or glass container for disposal. If after this heavy cleaning, the finish looks dull, apply furniture wax or polish, following the label directions, and buff. If, after cleaning, the finish looks too bad, the cabinets may need refinishing.