How to Clean Cabinets

Shannon Lee | Improvement Center Columnist | December 13, 2011

Kitchen cabinets are one of those spots in your kitchen that tends to collect dust and grime. Much of this is thanks to the oils from cooking, the heat and humidity from higher temperatures and the simple nature of food preparation--sometimes there are splashes and drips, and those often find their way to the cabinets.

Periodic cleaning of your cabinets will keep the job manageable. If it has been a long time since you cleaned your cabinets, expect to spend several hours and plenty of elbow grease on the job.

Step-by-step cleaning of kitchen cabinets

You will need a good cleanser to cut through the dirt and grime. A grease-cutting dishwashing detergent mixed with water is often a great solution. Dilute the detergent with two parts water and stir well. Collect scrub brushes, old rags and other cleaning utensils to help you get the job done.

Remove all cabinet handles. This is important, as the dust and grimes tends to collect more readily in the areas you actually touch, and cleaning underneath attached handles can be difficult. Soak the handles, including screws, in a solution of warm water and detergent as you work on the cabinets.

Start with the top of the cabinets and work your way down. Rinse out your scrubbers and rags often to ensure proper cleaning. Make note of particularly soiled spots and use a stronger cleanser on that area. If you choose to use a natural remedy, vinegar works well to cut through the grime. If you choose to use an all-purpose commercial cleanser, test a small and inconspicuous area first to ensure the solution doesn't damage the finish on your cabinets.

If you choose to clean with any sort of chemical, open the windows to diffuse the fumes and consider wearing a respirator mask, especially if your kitchen is a very small space. If you have very difficult stains on wood cabinets and choose the heavy-duty route of paint thinner or other caustic chemicals, follow all precautions as listed on the container.

When your cabinets are scrubbed clean, you can buff them with furniture wax to create a nice shine. Clean the hardware with a scrub brush and let it dry thoroughly before reattaching the pieces to your clean cabinets.

Keep in mind that certain finishes might require a particular method of cleaning. If you have a custom finish on your cabinets, ask the manufacturer how to clean your cabinets, and which cleansers might be most appropriate to protect the beauty of your finish.