Kitchen cabinets go through a lot, as they're vulnerable to cooking splatters, accidental spills, and a non-stop barrage of finger marks. However, both the uppers and lowers get short shrift during regular weekly cleaning. By the time you've realized you've skipped them from everyday cleaning chores, grime, dirt, and grease have already built up, and immaculate cabinets seem impossible to achieve.
Why clean kitchen cabinets?
The cabinets and cabinet hardware are an excellent place for germs to grow, food crumbs to hide, and become bugs and vermins' new homes. Additionally, most kitchen cabinets are made of wood, a porous material that becomes sticky when not cleaned. However, it requires cleaning methods different from those you use on metal or laminate cabinets.
How often should you clean the kitchen cabinets?
If stickiness is enough to signal that the kitchen cabinets require cleaning. Here’s how often you should do it:
Instead of wiping down cabinets every day, you should designate a day for weekly spot treatment of the kitchen cabinets. Spray a multi-purpose cleaner on a microfiber cloth and wipe away spatters, finger marks, and grease. Remember also to disinfect the hardware.
Deep clean the cabinets three or four times a year. You need to remove everything from the cabinets. Damp a microfiber cloth in a mild cleaner and wipe down the shelves, outside the doors, and insides. Reach in the corners and small crevices with a clean toothbrush. Let it dry completely before placing everything back in.
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Various types of stains require specific cleaning methods
Your kitchen cabinets are exposed to many food ingredients, daily use, oils, and fingerprints. Here’s how to deal with the most frequent kitchen cabinets stains:
When your cabinets are placed right above the fridge, the risk for grease stains is high. Removing the grease stains is more straightforward than you think and you only need diluted vinegar to remove them. Dampen a cloth in a solution made of water and vinegar (equal parts). Apply to the stains and buff for a shiny finish. Since the grease stains are larger than other stains, you might need to repeat the spraying and wiping several times.
Even if your fingers are clean, they are oily, which may stain the kitchen cabinets. They can leave ugly marks on cabinet doors and hardware. You can use the same solution and process as you did with the grease stains.
If you live in a hard-water area, water stains on cabinets are relatively common. Every time you clean the cabinets, you should use distilled water instead of tap water.
The rule of thumb for cleaning food splatters is to remove them the moment they happen. If your kitchen cabinets are made of wood, you don’t want the stain to set in—wood is a highly porous material. The moment you notice the stain, you should wipe up as much of the residue as you can with a damp cloth. Make a paste of baking soda and water and apply it to the spot. Let it sit for several minutes and wipe it away afterwards. Use a clean cloth to polish the area.
Tables, shoes, and chairs can cause unsightly scuffs on kitchen cabinets. Use a soft eraser and rub it along the mark. Use a clean cloth to wipe away residue.
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Various materials require various cleaning methods. Keep reading!
Kitchen cabinets can be made from various materials which require specific cleaning products and methods. Here are the most common types of kitchen cabinets and recommendations for cleaning.
Cleaning painted cabinets
Many people choose painted cabinets for their kitchens because it’s easy to switch from one colour to another and bring a new fresh vibe to the kitchen. However, painted cabinets need regular maintenance to keep their looks. Here are some tips to follow:
- Mix one-part water with two parts baking soda
- Dab the paste on the stains
- Let the paste work for several minutes
- Wipe clean
- Use a clean cloth to buff out remaining residues
Cleaning grease stains
- Damp a cloth into diluted ammonia
- Gently wipe the cabinet until you remove the stain
Once the paint begins to chip, you might want to repaint the cabinets for a nicer looking kitchen.
Cleaning wood cabinets
Wood cabinets come with many finishes and seals, so the cleaning products and methods vary a lot within this category. Some seals take more wear than others, for instance. To stay on the safe side, you should use a gentle cleaner on your wood cabinets. Here are some general guidelines:
- Use soil soap to clean and shine the cabinets. The soap is non-abrasive and cleans the wood cabinets without altering their appearance.
- Always use damp and not soaked cloths to clean the wood cabinets. Too much liquid hurts and damages the wood.
- Buff and polish the wood with a dry microfiber cloth. Make sure to wipe with the grain of the wood.
- Examine cabinets in high-moisture areas of the kitchen (right about the stove, for example). They need extra care as the regular exposure to steam and condensation is high. You might want to add an extra coat of sealant for superior protection.
Cleaning laminate cabinets
Laminate is a forgiving material and takes most cleaners very well. It doesn’t need a lot of maintenance besides the weekly wipe downs. Nevertheless, some recommendations will come in handy:
- Use an all-purpose cleaning wipe or diluted vinegar to wipe the laminate cabinets
- Use a clean cloth to dry thoroughly
- Make a paste of baking soda and water to remove the stain. Allow the paste to work on the stain.
- Wipe it clean
- Don’t use abrasive cleaning pads as they scratch the cabinet’s surface
- Use a soft eraser to get rid of the marks on the lower cabinets.
Cleaning glass cabinets
Panel doors made of glass cabinets also include materials such as laminate or wood. Even if the glass is effortless to clean, you need to use a cleaning solution that doesn’t alter the adjacent cabinet material. Keep reading for the details:
- Use a glass cleaner and a polishing cloth to remove stains and fingerprints from the glass panes.
- Clean the cabinet door from the inside as well
- Stay away from oil-based cleaners on the adjacent cabinet material as they can cause residues and streaks on the glass. It will be a hassle to remove those stains from the glass.
How to clean kitchen cabinets- the step by step process
Regardless of the types of stains you're dealing with and materials your cabinets are made of, cleaning the kitchen cabinets goes as follow:
1. Empty the cabinets out
For deep cleaning of your kitchen cabinets, you will need to remove everything from the cabinets. Most people will need more than one day to clean, so you need to consider storing the cabinet contents on countertops or elsewhere.
If you have a paper on shelves, you will have to peel it off and throw it away. Continue with vacuuming/wiping crumbs and dust from drawers and shelves.
2. Clean the tops
For cabinets that aren't ceiling-high, you will need to clean the tops as well—they collect a lot of dust, dirt, and grime. Use a ladder or a sturdy step stool for the job. Use a long-handled duster or your vacuum's small round brush attachment if it's just dust you need to clean.
When grease has combined with dust, you need to brace yourself with a lot of patience—it’s tricky to clean it.
- Spray white vinegar on tops
- Sprinkle some baking soda and let it all work for several minutes
- Use a sponge to scrub the gunk and scrape it with a firm straight edge
- Wipe the gunk with paper towels or rags
- Spray once again and use a clean cloth to wipe dry
3. Use a gentle cleanser
You want to clean the kitchen cabinets without damaging them. You only need a big of mild dish soap in hot water to clean painted and wood cabinets. The cleaning solution is safe to use on laminate, vinyl, and metal cabinets. It’s adequate to remove smudges, dirt, and moderate rage buildup.
To get better results, you can add some white vinegar to the solution and remove bacteria.
Mix the ingredients in a spray bottle and apply it onto a microfiber cloth/sponge and not right on the cabinets.
4. Go from up to way down
Begin cleaning with the uppers and work your way down. It would help if you cleaned the interiors first: the back wall, the sides, the shelves, and drawers. Pay attention to the corners and use a toothbrush (damped in the cleaning solution) for them.
Don’t forget to clean the sides of the boxes and leave the doors/drawer fronts last.
5. Pay attention to the grease
Make a mildly abrasive paste made of one-part baking soda and two parts water. It’s an affordable cleaning product to remove yellow and sticky grease buildup. Apply it to stuck-on grease, let it work for several minutes, and scrub it with a soft-bristled brush for a perfect finish. Use a damp microfiber cloth/sponge or rag to rinse it.
If you decide to use a commercial product, remember to test first on an inconspicuous area. Be extra-careful with magic erasers. The non-toxic melamine foam has the texture of fine sandpaper, and you can damage the glossy paint finishes and varnished wood with magic erasers.
6. Don’t skip the trim
Dirt and grease stick to crevices like nothing else. The cabinet trim is one place where it will collect. The more decorated the frame is, the dirtier and more difficult to clean it will be.
Use a basic cleaning solution, a soft toothbrush, and a lot of patience to clean the trim. Get a clean and damp cloth to rinse and dry the trim when you’re done.
7. Clean the hardware and hinges
Most kitchen cabinets have metal elements that require specific cleaning products and techniques:
- Get a dry cloth and wrap it on your index finger to clean the cabinets' hinges.
- Mix water and white vinegar (equal parts) and spray the solution on an old soft brush to remove grease. Scrub it off and dry.
- Use the toothbrush to tackle stains on metal and ceramic hardware as well. Don’t forget to clean the handle knobs, the pulls, and everything that can collect grime and grease.
8. Make the glass sparkle
Use a commercial glass cleaner to manage the glass-fronted cabinet doors. If you like natural alternatives, you can make your cleaning solution out of one cup of rubbing alcohol, one cup of water, and one tablespoon of white vinegar.
9. Clean everything that goes in the cabinets
Don’t put the items back in the kitchen cabinets until you don’t clean them first. We talk about cleaning dishes, cookware, food packages, etc. and everything dusty or dirty. You don’t want to put anything dirty or dusty inside. Also, check the expiration date for any food you put back the kitchen cabinets.
For a pristine look, swipe the contents with a microfiber cloth so that everything is immaculate when you’re done.