Matt is a professional painter who owns and operates his own painting business, specializing in interior and exterior house painting.
Using Cabinet Degreaser Before Painting: Is It Necessary?
If you're painting cabinet doors that are sticky from cooking grease, be sure to scrub them with degreaser and rinse before you paint. The problem with grease is it prevents paint from adhering to the wood underneath it. If you paint over grease, you'll end up with big problems that could have easily been avoided.
Cabinets should always be cleaned carefully before painting, even if the surface doesn't appear to be greasy. Cleaning grease can be really difficult when cabinets are caked with grease, and you use a cleaner not powerful enough to cut through the grime. You will have to scrub over and over to get any results.
I've used several cleaners for paint prep, but the one that's proven to be quite effective for super greasy cabinets is Krud Kutter Cleaner Degreaser (Original), which is what my review is based on, not the Pre-Paint Cleaner, or Gloss-Off, from the same brand.
Does Krud Kutter Clean Really Greasy Cabinets?
Before I used Krud Kutter Original for cabinet cleaning, I used Dawn dish soap and Dirtex powder cleaner with good results, but for thick layers of nasty grease build-up they aren't very effective. Dirtex is a good paint prep cleaner that will remove grease too, but Krud Kutter is more effective.
Here are some things I like and dislike about this cleaner:
- The degreasing: I used it for two separate cabinet painting projects with extremely greasy and disgusting doors. I had to wear gloves because the doors were practically dripping with grease. I knew the cleaner I normally use wouldn't cut it so I bought a bottle of this stuff and sprayed it onto the doors at full concentration. The cleaner didn't dissolve the grease right away, but after letting it penetrate for about five minutes it began wiping away with a coarse cleaning pad.
- The almost non-existent odor: I've used many cleaning products as a painter, some with terrible odors, but this one barely smells at all because it's water-based. The odor is similar to Dirtex and TSP, but less pungent.
- The versatility: I use this product mostly as a pre-paint cleaner for my cabinet painting projects, but I've also used it to clean my grill and stove with good results too. It will remove multiple contaminants, not only grease. You can also use this cleaner on different surfaces including tile grout, various metals and even carpet, but I've never used it on any of those.
- It's water-based and supposedly non-toxic: The exact ingredients aren't provided in the technical data sheet, but instead they're referred to as a "proprietary blend of biodegradable surfactants, detergents and emulsifiers". This degreaser is water-based and marketed as being non-toxic. Personally, I wear gloves when using any cleaner, including this one, but it doesn't cause any skin irritation upon contact.
- It doesn't leave residue all over cabinets: Some pre-paint cleaners don't rinse off easily and leave residue all over the surface, which causes fish-eye when you paint, but I've never had any problems painting surfaces I cleaned with this product. I always rinse carefully with clean water and wipe the surface dry with a towel.
- It doesn't degloss: Krud Kutter Original is strictly a cleaner and degreaser, not a deglosser. If you want to use a cleaner that deglosses and cleans at the same time, use Gloss-Off and rinse carefully. I've had problems with fish-eye in the past using chemical deglossers. Sanding alone, which you should always do before painting, removes gloss from stained cabinets.
Krud Kutter vs. Dirtex for Cabinet Paint Prep
Having used this product more than once on wood cabinets that were completely covered in grease, Krud Kutter totally degreased and restored the doors in less time than other cleaners I've used, including Dirtex (powder form). Dirtex is an awesome paint prep cleaner that I still use for walls and cabinets, but it doesn't cut through thick layers of grease as effectively and quickly as this product.
For cleaning and painting wood trim, walls and other surfaces that aren't caked in grease, a one pound box of Dirtex is plenty and costs less than a 32-ounce spray bottle of Krud Kutter. Both cleaners have very little odor and do not cause any skin irritation or leave residue streaks, but Dirtex powder must be mixed with water. I like the convenience of a spray bottle.
The key to using this product on really greasy cabinet doors is to spray it on and let it penetrate for five to ten minutes before you start scrubbing. Use Scotch-Brite cleaning pads to scrub the grease with the cleaner and warm water. Extreme grease will take a few or more applications to break down the layers. If you're using this product to clean painted cabinet doors, I would dilute it with some water otherwise it could soften the paint at full concentration and cause peeling.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Matt G.