How to Clean Kitchen Cabinets: Everything You Need to Know

By

Maria DeSouza

| Published September 20, 2023

Whether you are a home cook or a professional chef, you know a lot of action happens in the kitchen. 

With all the prep and cooking of delicious meals, imagine all the dirt, grease, and food splatters that can get to glass, wood, or whatever!

Sure, you may wipe down your countertops and mop your floors daily. But what about your cabinets and cabinet handles? In many cases, they may not get the same attention.

Bacteria and mold can easily thrive in your grimy and dusty cabinets. So you better watch out!

To help you maintain clean cabinets and avoid health risks, check out our full guide on how to clean kitchen cabinets. Read on!

Why Is It Important to Clean Your Kitchen Cabinets Properly?

Cleaning the kitchen cabinet may come as a second thought for some. But it is as important to tidy up as any part of your kitchen. 

Don’t forget to clean cabinet interiors, cabinet hardware, and cabinet trim too.

Here are a few reasons why you should clean your cabinets properly:

Hygiene

Ever swept a finger on your kitchen cabinet’s surface only to find dirt and grease sticking on? If so, it’s high time to vacuum and wipe your cabinets clean.

Your cabinets can accumulate dirt, grease, and food particles over time. These can encourage the growth of harmful microorganisms like bacteria that cause various illnesses.

Make sure to keep your cabinets hygienic to prevent any adverse health effects.

Food Safety

In most households, many open food items are stored in cabinets. Dirty cabinets can contaminate these.

We highly suggest keeping your cabinets clean to reduce the risk of cross-contamination and ensure that your food remains safe for consumption. 

You sure don’t want to waste any of them!

Prolonged Lifespan

It is natural for furniture and fixtures to wear and tear over time. However, with proper cleaning and maintenance, you can extend its lifespan.

Regularly removing dust and grime from your cabinets prevents them from causing long-term damage, such as discoloration and warping.

Aesthetic Appeal

Do you own laminate cabinets? Or are they porcelain, granite, marble, wood, or glass? Whatever your cabinet material, we’re sure they were made to fit the whole aesthetic of your kitchen.

But what is beautiful cabinetry if they are kept dirty? Regular cabinet cleaning keeps them looking fresh, prevents dullness, and contributes to the overall appearance of your kitchen.

Facts About Dirt and Grime in Kitchen Cabinets

Understanding the dynamics of cooking activities in the kitchen will help you realize how dust and grime come to be in your cabinet doors, surfaces, and even its interiors.

Here’s what you need to know:

Grease Buildup

A hot kitchen will generate airborne grease particles from cooking. All the grease can settle on surfaces, including your cabinets. Over time, grease will accumulate and become difficult to remove.

But it’s nothing some cleaning solution spray and a soft-bristled brush cannot tackle!

Food Residue

Even when you’re careful, a lot of spills and food particles can still find their way into your cabinetry. This is especially true when your kitchen cabinet is located nearby where you prep and cook food.

Food residues can attract pests and contribute to odors. It is important to remove stains and visible crumbs to reduce the chances of infestations and unpleasant smells.

Dust and Dirt

It is inevitable for dust and airborne particles to settle on cabinet surfaces. Unfortunately, these make most cabinets look dull and dirty.

To prevent the buildup of dust, regularly vacuum your cabinets. Make sure to cover every inch including its ornate trim, handles, and drawers.

Guide to Cleaning Kitchen Cabinets

Are your cleaning products ready? At this point, we’re here to guide you with the crucial steps to cleaning your cabinets. Simply follow these steps:

Preparing the Cabinets for Cleaning

Whether you are preparing your whole kitchen for cleaning or just your cabinets, the first thing you need to do is remove any contents that are in the way. This allows you to clean cabinets thoroughly without obstruction.

Next, remove loose dust and debris from the cabinet door, interiors, and other surfaces with a microfiber cloth or a duster. Pay extra attention to corners, crevices, and edges.

With that, the fun part begins! It’s time to decide on your preferred cleaning solution.

Cleaning with Warm Water and Vinegar: The DIY Solution

If you want to go the simplest route, making a DIY cleaning solution out of warm water and vinegar as a spray is quite effective. Here’s how to proceed:

  1. In a spray bottle, combine equal parts warm water and distilled white vinegar. Shake well to ensure proper mixing.
  2. Spray the cleaning solution onto a microfiber cloth or sponge, and gently wipe your cabinet surfaces. If you are cleaning wood or laminate cabinets, make sure your cloth is not too wet, as this could cause the wood to warp. You might want to do a spot test to make sure you don’t cause damage.
  3. For greasy spots, apply a small amount of undiluted vinegar directly onto the clean cloth. Wipe the area thoroughly. Proceed with cleaning with the diluted solution.
  4. Remove any remaining moisture from the cabinets with a clean and dry cloth. Double-check and ensure they are completely dry to prevent damage.

Cleaning with Murphy Oil Soap: The Commercial Solution

You can also find commercial cleaning solutions in the form of a spray, magic erasers, and soaps.

However, be wary when cleaning greasy kitchen cabinets with magic erasers. They tend to damage varnished wood and glossy paint finishes.

In our testing, we found Murphy Oil Soap to be very effective. Follow these steps when using it:

  1. Dilute Murphy Oil Soap according to the instructions on the bottle. Generally, a mixture of 1/4 cup of soap per gallon of warm water is recommended.
  2. Using a spray bottle, spray the diluted soap solution on a sponge or soft cloth. Gently scrub the cabinets’ surfaces, paying attention to any stubborn stains or grease buildup.
  3. Use a clean cloth dampened with plain water to wipe clean any soap residue.
  4. Ensure they are completely dry to avoid any water damage or streaking, especially on the base cabinets.

Special Instructions for Cleaning Wood Cabinets

Wood, a porous material with many finishes and seals, can be tough to clean. To play it safe, stick to gentle cleaners. No bleaches!

Here are more tips to use when cleaning wood kitchen cabinets:

  1. Use oil soap to clean and shine cabinets. For example, Murphy Oil Soap is a gentle cleaner that can brighten up your wood kitchen cabinets without causing any damage.
  2. Always use a clean damp cloth, not soaked. Too much liquid saturation will hurt the wood.
close-up photograph of a hand wearing a pink glove wiping a wooden cabinet with a dry cloth
  1. Use a dry microfiber cloth to wipe, buff, and polish your wood cabinets dry. Furthermore, always wipe cabinets with the grain of the painted wood. This helps prevent scratches and maintains the appearance of the wood.
  2. Monitor wood cabinets that are constantly exposed to steam and condensation. These will require more cleaning. It is best to consider an extra coat of sealant for these cabinets too.

Dealing With Specific Cleaning Concerns

Clean cabinets complement a clean kitchen. It can help ensure food safety for you and your household too.

How to Clean off Tough Grease and Grime?

If you encounter stubborn grease and food splatters during a deep clean, try the following methods:

  1. Make a paste by combining baking soda and water. Apply the paste to the grease. Gently scrub with a soft clean cloth, and wipe thoroughly.
  2. Create a solution of warm water and a few drops of dish soap or any dishwashing liquid. Spray it on the glass surfaces or greasy spots, scrub with a soft cloth or sponge, and rinse well.
  3. Use a commercial kitchen degreaser or commercial glass cleaner. Follow the instructions on the label of your glass cleaner, then proceed with a spot test. Apply it to the affected areas, let it sit for the recommended time, and then wipe it clean.

Tips for Cleaning Heavily Soiled Kitchen Cabinets

For heavily soiled cabinets, consider the following tips:

  1. Pre-treat stubborn stains by applying a paste of baking soda and water, undiluted white vinegar and water, or mild dish soap directly to the stained areas. Let it sit for a few minutes before scrubbing and rinsing.
  2. Use a soft-bristled brush or an old toothbrush to scrub away tough dirt or grime. Be gentle to avoid scratching the cabinet surface.
  3. Cleaning heavily soiled kitchen cabinets may require repetition. Be patient and persistent until the cabinets are thoroughly clean. Don’t forget to wipe dry completely.

Care and Maintenance of Kitchen Cabinets

With just a few cleaning supplies and a regular schedule for cleaning kitchen cabinets, you can ensure your kitchen environment stays hygienic and long-lasting.

Daily Care Routine for Kitchen Cabinets

When planning your daily care routine, maintaining clean countertops as well as cabinets must be in your to-do list. 

This is especially important if you regularly make meals for your household. Practice these simple steps:

  1. Clean up spills promptly to prevent them from settling into the cabinets’ surfaces.
  2. Dust the cabinets daily using a microfiber cloth or a duster to remove loose particles.
  3. Avoid abrasive and harsh chemicals and disinfectants to prevent damage to the cabinet finish.

Longer-term Maintenance Tips for Prolonging Cabinet Life

To prolong the life of your cabinets, consider the following tips:

  1. Avoid excessive moisture when cleaning kitchen cabinets and drawers. Wipe up spills promptly and ensure proper ventilation in the kitchen.
  2. Consider using cabinet liners to protect the shelves and drawers from scratches, stains, and moisture.
  3. Avoid slamming cabinet doors and drawers. This can loosen hinges and cause damage.

Frequently Asked Questions

Check out the answers to the top 5 kitchen cabinet cleaning FAQs:

Can I Use Bleach on My Kitchen Cabinets?

Whether your cabinets are made of finished wood, glass, or other material, it is NOT RECOMMENDED to use bleach on them.

Bleach is a harsh chemical that can damage the cabinet finish, discolor the wood, or strip away any protective coating. 

Stick to milder cleaning solutions mentioned above for safe and effective cabinet cleaning.

How Often Should I Clean My Kitchen Cabinets?

Regular cleaning depends on your kitchen’s usage and its grime buildup.

As a general guideline, aim to deep clean your entire kitchen at least once every two or three months. 

However, you may need to clean more frequently if your cabinets are exposed to heavy cooking or are prone to spills.

Can Vinegar Ruin Your Kitchen Cabinets?

When used properly and in moderation, white vinegar is SAFE for most kitchen cabinets.

However, excessive use of undiluted vinegar can cause damage to certain finishes, such as waxed or oiled wood.

How Do I Restore Shine to My Kitchen Cabinets?

Applying your cleaning solution of choice should likely restore the shine to your cabinets already.

However, if you are still unsatisfied, consider applying furniture polish or oil. Apply it to a clean cloth and gently buff the cabinets in circular motions. Then, wipe dry to restore its shine.

Can I Use Baking Soda to Clean Kitchen Cabinets?

YES, baking soda is effective for cabinet cleaning. You can use it to remove stains, grease, and grime

Mix baking soda with hot water to form a paste. Then, apply it to the desired areas. Gently scrub and rinse thoroughly.

Conclusion

You don’t need to break the bank to avoid food contamination, infestations, and foul odors in your kitchen.

You can effectively remove dirt, grease, and grime from your cabinets simply with water, vinegar, baking soda, or Murphy Oil Soap.

Furthermore, by following these tips, you can prolong the life of your kitchen cabinets, keeping them looking their best!

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