For many of us, cabinets are something we don’t think to clean until they’ve become mortifyingly dirty. It seems like one day we just wake up and there’s layers of unidentifiable grime (a mix of dust, grease splatters, finger prints and even cobwebs) to contend with. In a perfect world, we’re wiping up messes as they’re made — but again, that’s a perfect world. With knowledge comes action though, and our hope is that this primer on how to clean kitchen cabinets of all kinds helps keep the task top of mind so you’re focused more on maintenance than problem solving in the long run.
How to clean kitchen cabinets that are glass
If you’re someone who likes to stick to classic store-bought cleaning products Ric Trujillo, Crew Leader at Perfection Cleaning Service, says that “glass cabinetry can be cleaned with any product that wipes clean, leaves no residue and won’t streak.” In most cases, this means a non-ammoniated glass cleaner, though “ammoniated glass cleaner can be used on particularly dirty glass to cut through grime.” There are also a couple of simple recipes you can make that will get the job done too:
Trujillo recommends a 1:1 ratio of vinegar and water, which relies on the vinegar’s acetic acid to break down stubborn grease.
“Once thoroughly applied to glass on both sides, use a small squeegee in a Z-pattern — this picks up the soapy water so it doesn’t end up on your counters — then apply final touches with a paper towel,” Faria instructs.
How to clean kitchen cabinets made of wood
Just like with glass cabinets, Faria says you can clean wood and painted cabinets using a mix of hot water and Dawn dish soap to degrease the grime. “Don’t use anything abrasive or too strong that will damage the surface,” he advises.
“Painted cabinets tend to be able to be cleaned a little more aggressively, as the paint used tends to be robust,” Trujillo explains. If the cabinets have been exposed to cooking grease and Dawn isn’t doing the trick, you can use a good quality degreaser — again, as long as you don’t scrub too hard or use an abrasive. We like Easy Off Specialty Kitchen Degreaser Cleaner (Buy from Amazon, $7.09).
While an oil-based soap can be used for wood cabinets in some cases, Trujillo emphasizes that “it’s important to be sure the wood has a finish that will allow the oil to be absorbed, otherwise it’ll sit on top of the wood sealer and look cloudy and sticky after a while.” This advice also applies to wood polish.
How to clean cabinets made of laminate
There are a lot of different readily available options for cleaning laminate cabinets, and very little instructions. For a basic cleaning, Trujillo recommends a good quality, neutral pH soap and Dawn or Ivory dish soap. When it comes to more stubborn grime, he says that a small amount of ammonia can be incorporated, and “if kitchen cabinets have a layer of cooking grease residue, a good quality degreaser can be added as well.”
Faria uses a standard all-purpose cleaner, and suggests “spraying it on a microfiber cloth, not the cabinet, and wipe the cabinet down with a clean, damp cloth.”
How to deep clean stuck-on grime
Ideally, you’re cleaning grease and grime as soon as they appear, but that’s not always realistic. “Soften old and stubborn grime with warm/hot water and dish soap, then finish up with a clean, damp microfiber cloth,” Faria explains. For grease buildup specifically, Trujillo swears by a good quality degreaser alongside the soap. We like Easy Off Specialty Kitchen Degreaser Cleaner (Buy from Amazon, $7.09).
Looking for a more natural fix? TikTok user @mama_mila_shows how she cleans grease from her laminate cabinets using a mix of baking soda, lemon juice and water!
If these methods not enough, however, Trujillo recommends a very mild abrasive like Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. “It’s important to not be aggressive in their use so as not to damage the cabinetry finish,” he warns. “If possible, test these products on an area of the cabinet that’s obscure and not noticeable.”
Can you use a paint roller or mop to clean cabinets?
For many, the big question is what do you use to clean kitchen cabinets if say, you don’t want to climb up on the counter or want to do it faster. There’s a viral video (or MANY) for that and they all involve using a paint roller or mop to clean your cabinets — sounds tempting. Who wouldn’t want to be able to clean faster and more efficiently? The answer, according to experts is two-part: First, you don’t need to, and second, you shouldn’t.
“There’s no need to use a paint roller or mop — the problematic parts of the cabinets are actually corners, and they aren’t going to reach those anyway,” explains Faria
Not only that, but Trujillo says they can actually do more harm than good: “These would introduce far too much water to the surface of the cabinets, as well as to the counters and floors. If the cabinets are wood, this could lead to water damage such as warping.” Instead, Trujillo recommends using a well-wrung terrycloth towel or sponge to control the amount of water applied to the cabinet surface.
If you’re still wishing for a hack to speed up your clean, Faria recommends vacuuming dry crumbs and debris with the tube attachment of your vacuum before you start actually cleaning the cabinets. This gets rid of the superficial layer of mess keeping the debris from littering the counters and floor and elongating your cleaning.
For even more kitchen cleaning tricks, click through the links below!