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How to Clean Kitchen Cabinets

Updated on March 7, 2017
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Melody is a busy mom who loves using technology to make life better. She knows readers deserve to spend less time worried with cleaning.

Clean kitchen cabinets keep you and your family safe from dangerous bacteria an viruses.
Clean kitchen cabinets keep you and your family safe from dangerous bacteria an viruses. | Source

Accepting the Chore

Most people do not feel excited about cleaning kitchen cabinets. We generally accept that it is one of those things we just have to get done. We also tend to procrastinate this particular chore. Out of sight, out of mind, right?

Thinking this way is probably an error in our thought process. When professionals, like those at WebMD, report that the kitchen is the room with the most bacteria, it is natural to feel grossed out. Just knowing that may help motivate you to make sure to include this chore in your weekly cleaning routine.

Your healthy may be threatened by ignoring cleaning these unseen places anymore. keep reading to understand how to keep your cabinets clean and sanitary.

*NOTE: Many websites suggest using vinegar as an all-purpose kitchen cabinet cleaner. However, please know that vinegar has a very high PH, and over time can dull or damage some types of wood finishes!

How to Clean Kitchen Cabinets

Cabinets -traditionally made of wood or metal- are now built out of eco-friendly, non-toxic materials. Don’t worry though; this guide will cover how to clean all types of cabinets. There are some steps which, don’t change, no matter the material.

  • Remove food and dishes from the cabinet, and wipe out crumbs with a dry towel or vacuum.
  • Apply grease busting cleaning solution of choice to cabinet body. Avoid over dampening the surfaces to avoid warping or dulling the finish. Allow the solution to sit for 10 minutes.
  • While you wait, gather either abrasive sponges, nonabrasive sponges and/or a stack of dry cleaning towels. Moisten the sponge with the cleaning solution. (Note, do not use water to dampen the sponge if you are using an oil based cleaner.)
  • Place the sponge or micro fiber towel in the back corner of the cabinet body. Scrub with gentle, but vigorous circular motions, pulling the grease forward. Directly after scrubbing, use a dry towel to wipe up particulates, grease and crumbs. For especially greasy cabinets, repeat these steps.
  • Next, apply cleaning solution to the cabinet face, frame, handle, and door. Let sit for 10 min, Using the same motions, scrub with the “wet" sponge and follow with a clean dry towel. (Note: You need enough dry towels, paper towels or rags for the entire job. Once the dry towel is wet or greasy use a new one to continue to prevent the spread of germs.)

Cabinet Cleaning Cheat Sheet

Cabinet Type
Sponge/Towels
Cleaner
Hardwood, Plywood, Particle Board
Dry towels, non-abrasive sponge, cellulose or dobie sponge
Baking soda, 2 parts dish liquid one part water solution, Pine-sol, Murphy's Oil Soap, Pledge
Metal
Microfiber cloths, abrasive sponge, stainless steel sponge
Water based cleaners with full hand dry. Wax for polishing.
Crystal (cabinets)
Dry towels or microfiber cloths, Combination abrasive and cellulose sponge
Baking soda, 2 parts dish liquid one part water solution, Pin-sol, Murphy's Oil Soap, Pledge

Readers Opinion

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Hardwood

Don't use too much vinegar on hardwood cabinets, it may dull the finish!
Don't use too much vinegar on hardwood cabinets, it may dull the finish! | Source

When cleaning hardwood cabinets do not use circular motions. Instead always scrub with the grain of the wood. Only use a water based cleaners on well-finished cabinets. If the finish is chipping then never use water based cleaner.

Use low or neutral PH cleaners to prevent dulling the wood and finish. Murphy’s soap, baking soda and dish liquid are all PH 9 and below, making them excellent cleaners for wood kitchen cabinets.

Hardwood needs to be buffed after it is clean to remove any residue and prevent spots and streaks.

Plywood

Plywood is common in modern kitchens. It is cheaper than hardwood, but more durable than particle board. However, it is also the fastest fading wood.

Vinegar is acidic, and while it is good for simple sanitation, will fade the board much faster than is desirable. When cleaning this type of cabinets avoid high PH cleaners.

When scrubbing be as gentle as possible to avoid structural integrity of the material.

Particle Board

Particle board kitchen cabinets are often used in mobile homes and apartments. Some cabinets might have wood frames, but particle board carcass. It is easy to clean, but difficult to repair. Water destroyers the bond that keeps the compressed wood solid, leading to sagging of the wood.

Use very little water, or wipe water away immediately when cleaning this material. If possible use Murphy’s Oil soap, or other oil based cleaners.

Metal

Metal cabinets rust if they are not thoroughly dried.
Metal cabinets rust if they are not thoroughly dried. | Source

The great thing about metal cabinets is that they are compatible with many types of cleaners. Instead of simple soap and water, consider using rubbing alcohol to remove grease.

Use stainless steal to clear rust, but use a regular abrasive sponge for clean, non-rusted metal surfaces.

Metal cabinets do best when you finish by waxing them. Use any car or kitchen wax for a clean buff.

Crystal Cabinents

Crystal cabinets are eco-friendly, non-toxic and the preferred building material for environmentally friendly kitchens. These cabinets are made from recycled materials. They are made of wood, but the finish is similar to lamination.

Like particle board, these cabinets are susceptible to water damage. Like metal cabinets, the finish can scratch. Use extra care when choosing your cleaner. Always avoid stainless steel pads when cleaning crystal cabinets.

The Most Important Step

Once you know how to clean your kitchen cabinets there is one last step. Most kitchen cabinets require a general wipe down every few days. Depending on the number of people in your home, you need to plan to clean them thoroughly anywhere from once a week to once a month.

It doesn't matter if you use a cleaning app, calendar or piece of paper. Remember to schedule this task on a regular basis as appropriate for your home. Once you have the knack of it, you can rest assured your kitchen is sanitary and safe.

© 2017 Melody Trent

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    • Ashish Dadgaa profile image

      Ashish Dadgaa 3 months ago

      @Melody,

      This is a very informative hub. I loved this detailed regarding kitchen cleaning. Thank you for sharing all your tricks.

      Excellent work.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 months ago

      I like your natural methods of cleaning. Thanks for sharing how to make the cleaning solutions. I have to say I do not wash my cabinets as often as I should. Maybe I will get to them this month!

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 4 months ago from Brazil

      I have hardwood cabinets which I love but don't clean them as often as I should. We live close to sand dunes and there always seems to be a fine residue of sand everywhere.

      Plus we have a high level of salt in the air. It is hard on wood products.

      Thanks for the useful hints.

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