Melody loves how technology can make life better. She is a productivity enthusiast who helps parents worry less about cooking and cleaning.
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 when it comes to 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 health may be threatened by continuing to ignore cleaning these unseen places. 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 that 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 a grease-busting cleaning solution of choice to the 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 microfiber 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 the cleaning solution to the cabinet face, frame, handle, and door. Let sit for 10 minutes. 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
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
Microfiber cloths, abrasive sponge, stainless steel sponge
Water-based cleaners with full hand dry; wax for polishing.
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
When cleaning hardwood cabinets do not use circular motions. Instead, always scrub with the grain of the wood. Only use 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 is common in modern kitchens. It is cheaper than hardwood but more durable than particleboard. 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 cabinet, avoid high PH cleaners.
When scrubbing, be as gentle as possible to avoid damaging the structural integrity of the material.
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Particleboard 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 the water away immediately when cleaning this material. If possible use Murphy’s Oil soap, or other oil-based cleaners.
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 steel 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 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 particleboard, 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 for it, you can rest assured your kitchen is sanitary and safe.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2017 Melody Collins
Ashi on March 10, 2017:
This is a very informative hub. I loved this detailed regarding kitchen cleaning. Thank you for sharing all your tricks.
Dianna Mendez on February 19, 2017:
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!
Mary Wickison from Brazil on February 11, 2017:
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.