How to Take Care of Kitchen Cabinets

Kitchen cabinets are constantly exposed to dirt, grease, cooking fumes and fingerprints. Grease from cooking or cooking sprays, condensation from temperature changes or from steam, dirt particles in the air, and bacteria from hands and food can stain and eventually damage your beautiful cabinet exteriors. 

It’s important to protect your investment by properly caring for them. 

Make Your Own Cabinet-friendly Cleanser

To make your own environmentally-safe and cabinet-friendly cleanser, vinegar is the go-to.  Make a 50/50 vinegar solution, by mixing a cup of white vinegar with a cup of water. This mild cleaning solution is perfect for everyday use on wood kitchen cabinets. It won’t damage or take off the finish.

You can use a light soap solution instead of the vinegar if you prefer. Mix a teaspoon of dish soap with a cup of water.

Do not use harsh all-purpose cleansers on your cabinets. They will cause discoloration, ruin the finish and void the manufacturer’s warranty. 

Dip a clean microfiber cloth in the vinegar solution and use it to wipe down the cabinet doors and underneath the cabinets.

You don’t want to get the cabinets too wet because moisture is not good for wood. Wring out the cloth you’re using so that it’s damp only, not dripping.

The vinegar smell will go away as soon as the cabinets dry.

How to Care for and Maintain Kitchen Cabinets

Here are the basic steps for the care and maintenance of your kitchen cabinets. 

  • Make a gentle cleanser of mild dish soap and warm water. No harsh chemicals on wood cabinets or your finish can be ruined.
  • Use a soft cloth to wipe the cleanser on the outside of the cabinet doors and drawers. 
  • Wipe off drawer pulls and door handles.
  • Use a toothbrush dipped in the cleanser to gently rub the hardware, the wood around the hardware and the crevices of ornate trim. Emphasis on “gently”. 
  • Wipe out the inside of the doors and drawers.
  • Use a second cloth or sponge dipped in clean water to remove the cleanser from all surfaces. 
  • Dry the cabinets with a clean cloth. Go back over the cabinets with a clean, dry, soft microfiber cloth to remove all traces of cleaning solution. 

Daily Care

If your kitchen is a busy one, the cabinets nearest to your range may need to be wiped clean every day. Others in the room might need only periodic cleanings. 

Wipe the outside of the cabinets after cooking. Grease and food particles can accumulate on cabinet surfaces every time you cook, and wiping them down every day will go a long way toward keeping them in good shape. 

Wipe Up Spills Immediately

To keep your cabinets looking great, you should wipe up any spills right after they occur. Depending on what was spilled, the substance may cause your cabinets to stain if it sits too long, so be quick things up when a spill occurs.

Remove Grease

If you’re an active home cook, grease will build up on your kitchen cabinets if they’re not wiped down regularly. Use the vinegar solution of one cup white vinegar mixed with a cup of water. This mild cleaning solution is perfect for regular use. It won’t damage or take off the finish.

Dampen a clean, dry cloth with the vinegar solution, and wipe down greasy cabinets. 

Or you can put the mixture in a spray bottle and spritz the solution on the cabinets. Let it sit for a few minutes, then use a clean, soft cloth to wipe off the spray and loosened grease. 

Rinse your cloth with warm water, wring out most of the moisture, and use it to rinse the cabinetry. Dry the damp surfaces, and take note any still-sticky spots that need a do-over. 

You can add a few drops of liquid dishwashing detergent to the vinegar and water solution to clean very dirty cabinets that have “tough” grease on them, like spilled olive oil. Re-apply the mixture to your cabinets and wipe them down after the solution works its magic for a few minutes. 

Get Rid of Stubborn Substances

Syrup, honey, chocolate, spilled cake batter, exploded smoothies, splattered tomato sauce – all are stubborn substances that may get spilled on your kitchen cabinets.  Here’s what to do to clean the cabinets, yet treat their finish with TLC. 

Make a paste of white vinegar and salt. Then dip a soft-bristled toothbrush in the paste and lightly and gently apply to the stained area. 

WARNING: Do not apply pressure! Or use steel wool! You do not want to scratch your cabinets. 

A soft, damp cloth will remove the paste and all remnants of the stain.

You can use baking soda to clean a stubborn stain, as well. Place baking soda on a damp sponge and GENTLY rub on the stained area. Food spills left unattended can harden and become difficult to remove. Baking soda acts as a mild abrasive that will remove the dried substance without ruining your wood. 

Oil Soap Wood Cleaner

Murphy’s Oil Soap is designed to remove grease and other caked-on substances without damaging wood surfaces. Oil soap is stronger than vinegar or a simple dish soap solution, so it’s a good product to have on hand when you want to give your cabinets a deep cleaning. 

If you haven’t cleaned your cabinets for a while and now they have a layer of sticky grease, oil soap to the rescue.

  • Test the cleaner in an inconspicuous spot. If the varnish turns white or hazy, then do not use the cleaner and test an alternative mild soap solution.
  • Apply the oil soap to your cabinets. Use a soft cloth to rub the oil soap on your cabinets using a circular motion. Don’t press too hard! Continue rubbing the oil soap into the cabinet surface until all the caked-on grease has been removed.
  • Go back over the cabinets with a clean cloth. Remove all residue from the grease and oil cleanser so that the surface of your cabinets is entirely clean.

Painted Cabinets

Painted wood cabinets don’t require a cleaning method different than that used on stained wood cabinets. Simply wipe painted cabinets with warm water and diluted all-purpose cleaner, wood cleaner, or white vinegar.

Wood kitchen cabinets should not get excessively wet. Rinse the surface with a second cloth and clean water.

Cleaning Kitchen Cabinet Interiors

  • Wipe the insides of cabinets and drawers with your white vinegar and water solution.
  • Rinse and dry. 
  • Use a toothbrush to clean along the edges and cracks. 
  • Let the surface dry completely before placing any item back in the cabinets or drawers.

Minimize Exposure to Sunlight

If your cabinets are exposed to direct sunlight, their finish may fade or discolor over time. To keep your cabinets in good condition, a window treatment can limit the amount of sunlight that hits your cabinets.

Order Custom Cabinets from Craig Allen Designs

Craig Allen Designs has been creating room designs using custom cabinets for discerning homeowners for many years, and we’ll be happy to do the same for you. No matter what your personal style may be, and regardless of the room where you want to install new cabinets, we’ll create a design uniquely your own that will capture the look and function you want and need. 

Contact Craig Allen Designs to schedule your consultation and get your design started today.