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How to Clean Kitchen Cabinets: Without Ruining the Finish

Learn how to clean kitchen cabinets without ruining their finish.

Are your kitchen cabinets sticky with grease and grime? The grime makes your kitchen unappealing to spend any time cooking. You will need to clean your kitchen cabinets to make them shine.

So today, we’re chatting about the best way to clean kitchen cabinets. You’ll be able to enjoy cooking in your kitchen again.

Key Takeaways

  • Clean kitchen cabinets using water, dish soap, and a microfiber cloth, then rinse and dry them.
  • Weekly spot clean and disinfect hardware; deep clean cabinets 3-4 times a year.
  • Use gentle cleaners like Murphy’s Oil Soap for wood cabinets, and vinegar or soapy water for laminate and glass cabinets.
  • Prevent grime and stains by dusting cabinets every 2 weeks and cleaning spills immediately.

How Often Should You Clean Your Cabinets?

Weekly: Spot clean your cabinets each week. Do this by spraying a microfiber cloth with a multi-purpose cleaner. Then wipe down the cabinets.

Make sure you also disinfect the hardware on your cabinets. A disinfectant wipe such as Clorox Disinfecting Wipes makes it extremely easy to disinfect them.

Seasonally: You will need to deep clean your kitchen cabinets 3 or 4 times a year. Cleaning all of your kitchen cabinets at one time is an intimidating task, so it’s best to tackle them one cabinet at a time.

First, remove all the items stored in the cabinet you will be cleaning.

Spray your microfiber cloth with your multi-purpose cleaner. Wipe the insides and outsides of your cabinet with the cloth making sure that you wipe down the shelves along with the inside and outside of the door. Scrub corners and crevices with an old toothbrush.

Finish by wiping your cabinets with a damp microfiber cloth. If it’s soaked, you’ll end up with your cabinets exposed to too much water which may damage them. Your goal is to remove all the residue from your cleaner so it doesn’t attract dirt necessitating that you clean your cabinets more frequently.

Best Cleaner for Painted Kitchen Cabinets

The best cleaner for painted kitchen cabinets naturally is to make soapy water using a dish soap such as Dawn Dish Soap and water. Mixing a 1:1 ratio of vinegar and hot water makes an excellent cleaner for removing grease from your painted kitchen cabinets.

Another option is to use a commercial cleaner such as Rejuvenate Cabinet & Furniture Cleaner.

How to Clean Kitchen Cabinets Without Removing the Finish

Woman cleaning the surface of kitchen cabinet with cloth ad detergent spray

You can clean your kitchen cabinets without removing or damaging the finish. Use soapy water made by combining water with a squirt of dish soap to scrub your cabinets.

  • Time: 2 hours
  • Difficulty: Beginner

What You’ll Need

1. Empty the Cabinet

Empty all the items from each cabinet before you begin cleaning them. Make sure that you remove any torn or discolored shelf lining as well. Consider vacuuming the cabinets if you see lots of crumbs or dust in them.

2. Make Cleaning Solution

Most cabinets can be safely cleaned with Dawn or another type of dish soap and water. This will remove food, dust, and mild grease from the cabinets. You can use an all purpose cleaner, but you will need to test it first in an inconspicuous spot to make sure it won’t damage your cabinet’s finish.

To make the cleaner, put water in a spray bottle and then add a squirt of dish soap.

3. Wash Cabinets

While you can spray the cleaner on the cabinets directly, it’s best to spray your microfiber cloth and then wipe the cabinets with it. Start at the top of the cabinet and work down, remember to clean the edges and sides. You can use an old toothbrush to scrub corners and crevices.

4. Rinse and Dry Cabinets

Dampen a second microfiber cloth with water to remove any soapy residue that’s left on your cabinets. The soapy residue will attract dirt making it necessary to clean your cabinets more frequently. Dry the cabinets with a dry cloth to prevent the water from discoloring or damaging the cabinet.

5. Clean Glass or Mirrors

If you have a glass or a mirror on your cabinet, spray a glass cleaner onto a microfiber cloth. Do not spray the glass directly because the cleaner can seep into the woodwork of the cabinet and damage it. Wipe the glass with your microfiber cloth to clean it.

6. Clean Hardware

Fill a bowl with a 1:1 ratio of vinegar and water. Dip your old toothbrush into this solution. Scrub the handles, knobs, and pulls of your cabinets with the toothbrush.

The vinegar solution is safe to clean wood and crevices if you have ornate trim. Remember to rinse with a damp microfiber cloth before drying your hardware and trim.

7. Clean Contents

Go through the contents of your cabinets. Throw away any expired items and clean dirty cans and containers by spraying the dish soap cleaner on a damp cloth before wiping the containers clean with the cloth. Dry the items.

8. Dry Cabinets

Make sure the cabinets are dry by leaving the doors open for 1-2 hours. Once the cabinets are dry, replace the contents.

What to Avoid When Cleaning Cabinets

When you’re cleaning kitchen cabinets, you’ll want to avoid using bleach, ammonia, nail polish, and paint thinner. Also, avoid using hard or strong detergents and soaps.

These cleaners may damage the finish of your kitchen cabinets.

Cleaning Different Types of Cabinets

Not all cabinets are painted. Here are some instructions on how to clean kitchen cabinets that are laminate, wood, or glass.

How to Clean Wood Cabinets

Hardwood kitchen cabinets such as oak come with a variety of seals and finishes. While some will handle a more abrasive treatment than others, it’s best to use a gentle cleanser like Murphy’s Oil Soap. Here’s how to clean wood cabinets without removing the finish.

Dampen a cloth with a cleanser such as Murphy’s Oil Soap. Wipe your cabinets with the grain.

Now rinse your cabinets with a damp cloth to remove all the soapy residue. Don’t use too much water as the water will damage the wood. Use the third cloth to dry your cabinets. Rub the wood with the grain to buff and polish it.

How to Clean Glass Cabinets

You will need to use a glass cleaner to clean the glass on your cabinets. However, the glass cleaner may damage the wood or laminate on your cabinet doors. The trick is to spray the cleaner on your microfiber cloth and use the cloth to clean the glass.

Use vinegar or soapy water to clean any wood or laminate around the glass rather than an oil-based cleaner, because it will leave hard-to-remove residue and streaks on the glass.

How to Clean Laminate Cabinets

Laminate cabinets are durable, forgiving cabinets that are easy to care for. A weekly wipe down is usually enough to keep them looking beautiful.

Wipe your cabinets with diluted vinegar on a clean cloth. Rinse the cabinets with a damp cloth to make sure that the vinegar residue has been removed before drying the cabinets.

Do not use abrasive cleaners, pads, or sponges on the laminate cabinets. The abrasiveness will scratch and damage the surface.

How to Get Stains Out of Cabinets

Nothing is worse than seeing a thick, sticky, grease buildup on your cabinets. You can use an orange oil cleaner such as Touch of Oranges Wood Cleaner and Polish. Make sure to first test the cleaner in an inconspicuous spot before you begin to make sure it won’t damage your finish.

Spray the cleaner onto the grease stain and let it sit for 2-4 minutes to allow it to penetrate the grease. Then gently scrub the stain off of your cabinet. You may need to repeat the process.

You can also make a paste with baking soda and water. Spread the baking soda and water all over the sticky stain. Use a soft-bristled brush such as a toothbrush to remove the grease.

A Magic Eraser can also be used. Make sure to test it in a hidden area before using it as the abrasive surface may damage your cabinet’s finish.

Tips For Keeping Kitchen Cabinets Clean

There are some additional tips you can follow to prevent grime and stains from developing on your cabinets.

  • Dust your cabinets every 2 weeks. This will reduce the need for deep cleanings.
  • Clean spills immediately to prevent the stains from setting or damaging the cabinets.
  • Keep appliances that produce heat such as coffee makers and toasters away from your cabinets. The heat and moisture produced by the appliances may damage your cabinet surfaces.


How Do You Clean Sticky Wood Cabinets?

Clean sticky wood cabinets by making a solution of 2 cups of water, 1 cup of vinegar, and 2 tablespoons of Dawn Dish Soap. Mix the solution and put it into a spray bottle. Spray down the sticky area of your cabinet, scrub it with a toothbrush, and then wipe away the grime with a sponge or microfiber cloth.

Use a clean, damp cloth to remove the soapy residue.

Is Murphy Oil Soap Good for Kitchen Cabinets?

Yes, Murphy Oil Soap is an excellent kitchen cabinet cleaner especially if you have wooden cabinets.

Does WD-40 Remove Grease From Kitchen Cabinets?

WD-40 will remove grease from kitchen cabinets. However, it’s petroleum-based and may damage the finish of the cabinets so test it first in a hidden area before using it.

Can I Use a Magic Eraser on Wood Cabinets?

Magic Eraser can be used on wood cabinets. However, its abrasive properties may damage the finish so you will first need to test it in an inconspicuous spot before using it.

How Do You Clean Kitchen Cabinets Without Streaks?

The best way to clean kitchen cabinets without streaks is to use white vinegar, citrus juice, or another acidic cleaning agent, and dry the cabinet with a hairdryer.

How Do You Refinish Kitchen Cabinets Like a Pro?

Refinishing kitchen cabinets like a pro involves the right prep work, choosing a suitable primer and topcoat, and using the best tools you can afford.

Cleaning Kitchen Cabinets

Cleaning kitchen cabinets is necessary to keep your kitchen a clean and healthy place to cook. You’ll also need to clean your kitchen cabinets before painting them any color, especially white.

As you can see it is a very easy task. All you need is some dish soap and warm water.

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About the Author

Sara Dennis

Sara Dennis is a coffee-loving freelance writer, homeschool blogger, and mom of six kids. In her free time, Sara loves reading books and researching more efficient and effective ways to keep a clean house, homeschool her children, and blog better while making a home for her large family.