Woman is cleaning kitchen cabinets

You take a lot of pride in keeping your kitchen clean and probably focus on your sink, floors, counters, and appliances. But how often do you give your kitchen cabinets a good cleaning? Your kitchen cabinets endure grease, dirt, dust, and food stains regularly and can gradually become covered with a nasty, dull film you may not even notice. If you can’t remember how long it’s been since you’ve cleaned your cabinets or even what color they used to be, it’s probably time for a deep cleaning.

Whether you have finished wood kitchen cabinets or painted ones, learning how to clean kitchen cabinets is easy. You don’t need degreasers or other harsh chemicals either—all you need is some common household items and elbow grease to give your kitchen cabinets a fresh new look. No matter what type of finish you have on your cabinets, cleaning kitchen cabinets correctly includes basic steps.

Cleaning Kitchen Cabinets 101

For cleaning kitchen cabinets, you can skip the harsh all-purpose cleaners and degreasers. Instead, use hot, soapy water, vinegar and water, or baking soda and water. While different finishes will require a slightly different approach and cleaning solution, here are the basics for getting your kitchen cabinets back in shape.

Clean kitchen cabinets from the top down.

If your cabinets don’t meet the ceiling, the tops of your kitchen cabinets will collect dust and grease. Use a step stool and vacuum the tops of the cabinets, then wipe them down with your cleaning solution. Spray your cleaning solution onto a cloth instead of onto the cabinets and continue working your way down the frame and cabinet door.

Get in the grooves with a toothbrush.

Use a toothbrush dipped in your cleaning solution to scrub the grooves on the cabinet doors and the hardware. Scrub lightly to prevent damage to the finish and be careful to not get too much cleaner into the hinges to prevent rust. Use a microfiber cloth to soak up excess cleaner as you go.

Make the glass sparkle.

Kitchen cabinets with glass add a bright, clean sparkle to your kitchen—unless they’re covered with a dull film. Fill a spray bottle with a homemade glass cleaner made with equal parts water and rubbing alcohol. Spray the inside and outside of the glass and clean off the residue with a lint-free cloth to bring back that sparkling shine.

Rinse after cleaning kitchen cabinets.

Even mild cleaners like dish soap can leave a film, so use a damp cloth to wipe down everything after you clean. Again, work from top to bottom, and don’t forget to get into any grooves and tight spots around the cabinet hardware.

Dry the cabinet doors and hardware.

Metal hardware can rust and painted surfaces can be damaged if they’re left to air dry. Instead, use a microfiber cloth to dry the frame, cabinet doors, and hardware. Follow up with a dry microfiber cloth and buff all surfaces for a nice shine.

How to Clean Wood Kitchen Cabinets

Stained, varnished, and natural finishes on wood kitchen cabinets add warmth and beauty to your kitchen decor, but they may take a little more cleaning and maintenance than painted cabinets. When you’re learning how to clean kitchen cabinets finished with unpainted wood, removing dirt and grease without harming the finish requires a light touch and a mild cleaner.

Regardless of the finish on your wood, distilled white vinegar is the best cleaner for kitchen cabinets. White vinegar is a safe, natural cleaner and grease cutter that won’t harm most surfaces and finishes. Here’s how to clean wood kitchen cabinets and bring back that beautiful finish.

  • Mix one part warm water and white vinegar in a spray bottle.
  • For heavy buildup of grime and grease, you can add a couple of drops of dish soap.
  • Spray the cleaning solution onto a microfiber cloth until it’s damp.
  • Wipe down the cabinet doors and frames starting at the top.
  • For stains or hard-to-remove dirt, scrub lightly with your dampened cloth.
  • Use a toothbrush to clean any grooves and around the cabinet door hardware.
  • Remove the cleaning residue from the cabinet and hardware with a clean damp cloth.
  • Dry everything with an absorbent cloth.
  • Buff the wood and hardware with a fresh dry cloth.

If you have buildup or stains that won’t come off with your cleaning solution and microfiber cloth, make a paste of salt and vinegar. Dip your toothbrush in the solution and gently scrub the affected areas. Then rinse and dry the affected areas.

If your scrubbing goes a little too far or you have worn spots around the hardware, you can restore the finish on those areas and blend them in with the rest of the cabinet.

How to Clean White Kitchen Cabinets

Color schemes for interior decorating come and go, but white kitchen cabinets are always in style. White kitchen cabinets brighten up your kitchen and create a clean finish that goes with just about any color.

But grease, dirt, and sunlight can cause even the brightest white paints to become dull and yellow. Since most cabinet paints are made to be durable and long-lasting, you can use more cleaning muscle without harming the finish.

Here’s the best way to clean kitchen cabinets and restore their brilliance using safe and mild cleaners.

  • For thick greasy buildup, use a cloth dampened with white vinegar to break down the residue first, then use a soap and water cleaning solution.
  • Mix warm water and a few drops of dish soap in a spray bottle.
  • Dampen a microfiber cloth with your soap and water solution.
  • Work from the top to the bottom and gently scrub the doors and frames.
  • Scrub grooves in the wood and the hardware with a toothbrush and your cleaning solution.
  • Use a clean, damp cloth to wipe away the soapy residue from the hardware and painted surfaces.
  • Dry the cabinets and buff the hardware with a soft, clean cloth.

For hard-to-clean yellow spots and stains, sprinkle some baking soda on your damp cleaning cloth and gently scrub the affected areas. The natural whitening and mild abrasiveness of the baking soda should get the job done easily. Wipe the leftover residue off with a damp cloth and dry the area.

If your white kitchen cabinets aren’t made with wood, they’re probably constructed with particle board and a durable laminate finish. Since these cabinets are put together with adhesives and aren’t as hardy as wooden cabinets, cleaning them requires more caution. Use a cleaning solution of two tablespoons of baking soda and a gallon of warm water instead of soap or vinegar solutions and make sure you don’t get the cabinets too wet.

How to Keep Your Kitchen Cabinets Cleaner Longer

With a little preventive maintenance, you can keep your cabinets looking fresh and clean more often. For starters, put cleaning kitchen cabinets on your spring and fall cleaning checklists. Your semi-annual cleaning should include the exterior and interior of your kitchen cabinets and a decluttering.

  • Empty your cabinets and group each cabinet’s contents together on your counters or floor.
  • Vacuum the interior of your cabinets to get rid of surface dust and debris in the corners.
  • Wipe down the shelves and the inside of the cabinets with soapy water.
  • Rinse and dry the cabinets inside and out.
  • Go through the cabinet’s contents and discard expired foods, chipped dishes, and any items you rarely use.
  • Once you’ve purged your inventory, put everything back in the cabinets in an organized manner.

To keep your kitchen cabinets cleaner longer, always cook with your exhaust fan on and cover pots and pans with spatter shields to keep grease contained. Also, be sure to dust the top of the fridge and other appliances when you clean up the kitchen. To avoid yellowing white cabinets or dulling and fading of wood finishes, use curtains or blinds to reduce the amount of direct sunlight on your cabinets.

If you haven’t cleaned your kitchen cabinets in a while, you may be surprised at just how much grease and grime have accumulated. Use these tips for how to clean kitchen cabinets and check out our other kitchen cleaning guides to keep the rest of your kitchen bright and clean.

If you’re not much of a DIYer when it comes to cleaning or you just want to take a well-deserved break, The Maids is standing by with the most popular cleaning services. Learn more about affordable housekeeping and regular maid services when you get your free estimate today.


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