How to Clean Kitchen Cabinets and Keep Them Looking Like New

What’s likely one of the biggest surfaces in your kitchen probably gets the least cleaning attention: The cabinets. You might not think that these need regular cleaning and maintenance, but drips, splatters and grease all accumulate on the surfaces. While you might already give them a wipe now and again to clean up a splash or some sticky fingerprints, a good, deep cleaning session on a regular basis is also a must.

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But, before you just start spraying any old kitchen cleaner on them and start scrubbing, it’s critical to learn exactly how to clean kitchen cabinets properly. These are a big-ticket item in your home and how to clean kitchen cabinets also depends on the type of cabinet and its finish. What you use on a wood surface probably isn’t the best choice for laminate types.  Properly cleaning kitchen cabinets isn’t terribly involved, but it does require an investment of time especially if you have a big kitchen and a large number of cabinets.

How Often Do I Need to Clean Kitchen Cabinets?

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It’s a good idea to spot clean kitchen cabinets every week. The best way is to apply some cleaner to a cloth and wipe away any splatters, spots and fingerprints. Most importantly, the handles and knobs are high-touch surfaces so you’ll want to clean and disinfect those on a regular basis.

The right timing for a deeper clean is every three or four months for both the exterior and the interior of the cabinets.

Gather Your Cleaning Supplies

Before you start cleaning, gather up all the supplies you’ll need. Take into account what type of cabinets and finish you are working with before you decide how to clean kitchen cabinets. If you’re unsure, check the manual or information packet that came with your cabinets if you have one. In most cases, you can use common products like vinegar and baking soda instead of commercial cleaners, if that’s what you prefer.

Commercial cleaners – Even if you choose a commercial cleaner, you want to pick something that is gentle and appropriate for your cabinets. Murphy’s Oil Soap is a commonly available cleaner that is ideal for cleaning wood kitchen cabinets. There are also new, eco-friendly types of cleaners that you can use for your cabinets. Your cabinet manufacturer may also have particular recommendations that are perfect for yours

Eco-Friendly Choices – If you prefer to use products that are readily available at home, vinegar Is your first choice. It’s easy to use because all you have to do is mix equal parts of warm water and vinegar and put it in a spray bottle. If your cabinets are particularly dirty, add some dishwashing liquid – just a few drops – to help cut the grease. When you’re ready to clean, all you have to do is spray it on, wait a few minutes, and then wipe the surfaces clean.

How to Clean Kitchen Cabinets

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Whether it’s a commercial cleaner that you’re using or a home-made mixture, the steps are the same. The best way is to start with the inside: Take everything out and use some gentle cleaner on a cloth to wipe down all the shelves and walls of the interior. You’ll also want to wipe down the inside of the door. If there are seams and crevices that you can’t clean well with a cloth, you can put an old toothbrush into service to reach those spots. Then., clean the exterior of the cabinets. After this, it’s a good idea to take stock of everything as you’re putting it back into the cabinet: Is the food past the expiration date?  Is the mug chipped? It’s a great time to consolidate and purge too.

On the exterior of the cabinets, use your cleaner to do the doors and the drawers. Always make sure that you’re using a soft cloth or sponge and no abrasive cleaner or scrubber. It bears repeating that you want to pay special attention to the handles and pulls because that’s what everyone touches. If the cabinet is on the dirtier side, use a toothbrush and your cleaner of choice to get into the spaces around the pulls, hinges and any other trim.

After you’ve cleaned all the parts, use a clean, damp cloth to wipe down all the surfaces you’ve cleaned, and then use a clean towel to dry everything off.

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There are a number of common cleaning issues that are quite easy to deal with when considering how to clean kitchen cabinets.

Fingerprints are really common, especially in households that have children. Even if your cabinets are very clean, a slew of fingerprints will make people think otherwise. Wipe them off with a cloth and a vinegar solution for a quick resolution. Then all you have to do is biff with a clean cloth.

Grease is a persistent problem, especially on cabinets that are near the stovetop or any spot where you fry food. These areas can also be cleaned easily with vinegar and water, but might need repeated treatment to eliminate the stains or excess grease.

Food stains can be a splash of eggs or splatter of cake batter. Obviously, the best route is to clean things up when they first happen but don’t despair if you didn’t. Clean up the spot or splatter as soon as you notice it to help keep it from soaking into the surface of the cabinet. If there’s still a stain, smear on a paste of baking soda mixed with water and let it sit for a minute or two. Wipe the mixture away and then buff with a clean cloth.

Very hard water can also become a problem even when cleaning because it can create spots on the surface of the cabinets. If you have very hard water, purchase distilled water when it’s time to deep clean your cabinets.

Scuffs can sometimes be an issue on cabinets. If they don’t come off with the general cleaning, you can use a soft eraser to remove the mark and then buff it with a soft cloth. You could also use a Magic Eraser as long as you do it carefully and test it first in an inconspicuous spot to make sure it won’t damage the cabinet’s surface.

Before you start the cleaning session, there are a few more tips to keep in mind about how to clean your kitchen cabinets.

Don’t Use Anything Abrasive

Once you’ve chosen your liquid cleaner, make sure that you’re using soft cloths to clean the surfaces. Scrubbies or abrasive materials might do the job but they will also scratch, mar and otherwise ruin the surface of your cabinets.

A Little Goes a Long Way

Even if you’re using a nontoxic, gentle cleaning product, don’t overdo it. If you’re putting the cleaner on a cloth, make sure it’s damp and not soaking wet. Too much moisture can affect the wood or finish. Also, when you’re drying the front of the drawers and the cabinets, wipe vertically and make sure that you pick up any accumulations of moisture in crevices and trim to avoid damage.

Reach for the Toothbrush

There’s a reason that a toothbrush is so commonly used for cleaning tight spaces: because it does a great job. When you clean kitchen cabinets, it’s a great time to put the toothbrush into use. It’s very handy for cleaning the crevices and indentations in the trim on the doors and drawers. The spaces between the cabinets and the pulls and knobs also benefit from a rub with an old toothbrush.

Don’t Drip!

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Your cleaning solution may be safe for the surfaces of your cabinets but that doesn’t mean you can let it collect around the hinges and pulls. Leaving the cleaning solution to collect around the hardware can cause it to rust. Make sure that when you dry the cabinets, you pay special attention to the hardware and make sure that it’s properly dried.

Wash, Then Rinse

Just as important as cleaning the cabinetry is rinsing it. If you don’t, the loosened dirt and grease won’t be fully removed from the surface. Remember to work from the top of the cabinet down toward the bottom so that you can eliminate any drips.

Dry it Off!

No matter what the finish, it’s not a good idea to leave water on the surface to dry on its own. At the very least, this can create water spots and at the worst end of the spectrum, it can cause bubbles on a painted finish or ruin a wood cabinet.

A Little Extra Muscle

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After you’ve cleaned the cabinets, there might be places where stubborn stains persist. If dirty spots on your cabinets remain after you’ve cleaned them, you’ll have to add a little more elbow grease. Mix a paste of baking soda and water in a two to one ratio. With a clean cloth, put a little of the mixture onto areas that are still dirty. Allow it to sit for a couple of minutes and then wipe it up with another cloth that is damp. If the grime is stubborn, you can rub it lightly until it’s gone. Use a damp cloth to wipe it clean and then dry it with a soft towel.

Got Glass?

Some cabinets have glass fronts and will need a different approach. Instead of using the cleaner, spray glass cleaner or vinegar on a cloth and wipe the glass panels on both the outside and the inside. Most of the film or grime should come right off, but if not, repeat the process to fully clean it. Finally, try not to get glass cleaner on the frame of the cabinet or use anything abrasive on the glass to prevent damage.

Special Considerations

As noted before, depending on the type that you have, there might be special considerations in how to clean kitchen cabinets.

How to Clean Painted Cabinets

How to Clean Painted Cabinets

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Painted cabinets are increasingly common in kitchens, whether they are purchased that way or if updated by the homeowner. Although some parts of the cleaning process might be the same, there are some special tips on how to clean kitchen cabinets that are painted. You. definitely want to avoid marring the surface, so only use baking soda and to remove stains. For a greasy surface, mix some ammonia and water, dampen a cloth and use that to wipe down the cabinets down.

How to Clean Wood Cabinets

Wood kitchen cabinets need careful attention. If the manufacturer of your cabinets has product recommendations, it’s best to follow those. Otherwise, using gentle cleaners made for wood or household vinegar are the best ways to go. One product commonly used is Murphy’s Oil Soap, which is specifically made for wood and brings out the best of your kitchen cabinets. As mentioned in the general cleaning tips, don’t use too much water and cleaner on the cloths you use, and,  make sure to dry and buff with a clean cloth. Finally, if the kitchen tend to be very humid or damp, or if there’s a cabinet that gets extra contact with moisture, you’ll want to consider adding a coat of the appropriate sealant periodically.

How to Clean Laminate Cabinets

How to Clean Laminate Cabinets

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Laminate is pretty simple regarding how to clean kitchen cabinets, which is why many homeowners choose this type of surface. Give your laminate cabinets a quick wipe down every week and they’ll be great. Follow the general cleaning rules and just pay attention to the products and cloths you use because abrasive materials can scratch the surface.

Learning how to clean kitchen cabinets properly isn’t difficult and it shouldn’t be a huge investment of time. As long as you keep up with any daily spills and spots, your quarterly cleaning should be pretty quick and easy.

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