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How To Clean Kitchen Cabinets

Most cabinets are factory manufactured and finished; even wood cabinets have enough varnish or other protective coating so that you are able to use a cleaning solution. The oil slick that builds up on cabinets - especially around the handles - is a combination of kitchen grease, food smears, skin oil and hand lotion transferred to the cabinet. All-purpose cleaners aren't equal to the challenge.

Things You'll Need

  • Strong Alkaline or Heavy-Duty Cleaner
  • Bucket or Sink
  • Microfiber Cloth
  • Dishwashing Detergent
  • Oil Soap Solution

How To Do It

  1. First, if your cabinets are plastic laminate (formica or other plastic), metal, painted metal or glass, wash them all over with a strong alkaline cleaner, available at a janitorial supply store. Or, use a heavy-duty cleaner from the supermarket.
  2. Mix according to directions and apply the solution with a microfiber cloth. Let it sit a minute or two. Then, scrub wherever necessary.
  3. Next, remove the grimy suds from the cloth by squeezing it into the sink or a bucket, never re-dip back into your cleaning solution. Then rinse with a damp cloth and wipe dry with a microfiber cloth to remove any last traces of scum and leave the cabinets clean and glowing.
  4. On wooden cabinets, take a gentler approach. To get off stubborn dirt, wash around all handles and any other grease zones first with hand dishwashing detergent.
  5. Then wash the entire cabinet, including the handle areas, with an oil soap solution. Just wipe lightly with the solution and buff dry immediately with a microfiber cloth.
  6. Remember to always wipe dry with any grain or pattern. Seldom do you need to add any polish because the surface has its own sheen when clean. If your cabinets are dull from wear or age, spray furniture polish very lightly once a year or so to fill in the pores and bring back some life.


Never use acids or powdered cleansers on cabinets. A good overall washing once a year should be enough. Keep a spray bottle of all-purpose cleaner handy the rest of the time and spot clean after heavy kitchen use.