How to Clean Wood Cabinets

Learn how to care and clean wood cabinets in the kitchen or bathroom. 

Photo by: Terry J Alcorn

Terry J Alcorn

Kitchen cabinets get dirty, fast. You spatter grease on them when you cook. You spill everything from cake batter to olive oil on them. Your seven-year-old helps you make fruit smoothies and turns on the blender before you can put the top on it, slinging orange juice and smashed banana across the room. You can fight the grime, grease and grunge and make your cabinets look their best with this simple guide on how to clean wood cabinets.

You can use commercial cleaners, like Murphy’s Oil Soap, to clean cabinets. You can also make your own cleaners from ingredients in your kitchen that are eco-friendly, effective and affordable. 

Vinegar is the go-to natural cleaner when faced with how to clean greasy cabinets. Mix a 50/50 solution of vinegar and warm water and put into a spray bottle. Mist on cabinets, let sit for a minute or two and then wipe clean with a soft cloth. Add a few drops of liquid dishwashing detergent to the vinegar and water solution to clean extremely grimy cabinets.

Whatever cleaner you choose, the basic steps of how to clean wood kitchen cabinets are the same:

  • Use a soft cloth or sponge to wipe the cleaner on the outside of the cabinet doors and drawers. You may need to use a little elbow grease to remove heavy grease and grime buildup. 

  • Wipe the cleaner on drawer pulls and door handles.

  • Use a toothbrush dipped in the cleaner to scrub the hardware, the wood around the hardware and the crevices of ornate trim. 

  • Wipe the cleaner on the inside of the doors and drawers.

  • Use a second cloth or sponge dipped in clean water to remove the cleaner from all surfaces. 

  • Dry all surfaces thoroughly a clean towel.

Here’s how to clean wooden kitchen cabinets with stubborn stains, like syrup or chocolate. Make a paste of vinegar and salt. Dip a toothbrush into the paste and lightly scrub the stained area. Don’t scrub too hard or use steel wool, as it will scratch the wood. Rinse the paste off with clean water and dry with a clean towel. 

You can also put baking soda on a wet sponge and scrub the stain. Use a soft toothbrush or nylon-bristle scrub brush so you won’t scratch the cabinet surface.

Now that you know how to clean wood cabinets, be sure to protect them from future stains. Mix vegetable oil and vinegar in equal portions and apply it lightly on the cabinet surfaces. Rub it in with a clean, soft cloth. Buff till it shines.

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