How to Clean Kitchen Cabinets: An Expert Guide

Knowing how to clean kitchen cabinets like a pro is essential. As the busiest and most popular room in any home, the kitchen takes center stage like no other. So when things get a little dirty, it’s hard to miss. Dark-colored, high-gloss kitchens are particularly prone to stressing dust and fingerprints, especially those in south-facing rooms.

But even kitchens with low-maintenance finishes in dimly lit spaces benefit from a deep cleaning now and then, for good hygiene and your own peace of mind.

Dirt levels in any kitchen are exacerbated by steam from pots and pans, which often contain tiny particles of oil. Even the most powerful extractor hood can’t stop some of that oily steam from settling on kitchen surfaces. “Kitchen cabinets also have high-frequency touch points, which harbor many germs,” adds Queen of Clean author and presenter Lynsey Crombie. “Rubbing cabinets with a microfiber cloth using only lukewarm water is enough to remove sticky marks on a daily basis.”

Regular wipings will certainly make life easier when it comes to deep cleaning a kitchen, which experts recommend being scheduled at least once or twice a year. For a more thorough cleaning, follow our quick guide and enjoy kitchen cabinet ideas that shine from top to bottom, inside and out.

How to clean kitchen cabinets

When cleaning kitchen cabinets – as with any other similar task – the first step is to empty and declutter them, and rethink what’s in them, where. Organizing kitchen cabinets at the same time will, after all, make cleaning more impactful overall.

1. Start at the top

harvey jones kitchen with red rose cabinets and wooden floor 2

(Image credit: Harvey Jones)

Unless your cabinets fit flush with the ceiling, the tops of wall units are where the worst kitchen grime tends to linger, out of sight and out of mind. However, there are some magic ingredients you can use to remove it – and cleaning with vinegar and cleaning with baking soda are also natural options.

“To remove thick layers of dirt on top of walls and tall cabinets, spray the surface with pure white vinegar and sprinkle with baking soda, then let sit for a few minutes,” advises Heather Barrigan, cleaning expert at MyJobQuote. ‘Scrub the area with a sponge, then scrape with a firm straight edge, wiping away grime with a cloth or paper towels. Finally, spray again lightly and wipe with a clean cloth.

2. Empty everything

Start with the tallest cupboards and empty the contents in a methodical way that will make it easier to return everything to its original place. If you don’t have much counter space to stack items, you may find it easier to clean kitchen cabinets two or three at a time, but always work from top to bottom.

Take the opportunity to check the expiry dates on foodstuffs. If you find two packets of the same ingredient opened and still edible/dated, merge them into one packet or decant them into an airtight container. If something is dirty or dusty, clean it as you go. Run dishes and glasses not used regularly through a quick cycle in the dishwasher to freshen them up.

3. Clean the inside of your cabinets

open kitchen wall cabinet with glassware inside

(Image credit: The Shaker Kitchen Company)

Attach the upholstery nozzle and vacuum each cabinet and drawer, taking care to go all the way to the bottom, corners and along the seams of the shelves. This will remove large crumbs and dust hiding in the crevices.

Then add a few drops of dish soap to a bowl or sink of warm water until it is slightly soapy. “Use a rag or sponge that’s been in the solution, but not dripping, to clean up grease and dirt,” says Andrew Bramley, owner of professional cleaning company Pure Freedom. ‘Now fill a new bowl with clean warm water and start removing the dish soap from the cupboards. Finally, dry the surface with a towel or microfiber cloth.

4. Tackle cleaning kitchen cabinet fronts

Although the surfaces of kitchen doors and drawers are reasonably durable, they do require a gentle approach when cleaning to avoid damaging the finish. Laminate doors are probably the most durable, but even they can be scratched carelessly. Regardless of the finish of your kitchen cabinets, it is essential to avoid the use of scrubbing brushes or other abrasive cleaning tools, as well as cleaning products containing bleach or other products. harsh chemicals. Also resist spraying liquids directly on the doors, even plain water, as any streaks or puddles of liquid missed while drying can discolor painted and wood finishes.

The best approach for cabinet fronts is to simply use a clean, damp cloth, working from the top of the door down in circular motions. If the door is greasy, a small amount of washing up liquid or PH neutral cleaner in water sprayed onto the cloth should be enough to move it. Then a second wipe down with fresh water to ensure all soap is removed. Finally, wipe once more with a dry microfiber cloth, making sure the surface is dry and smudge-free.

5. Clean windows and mirror doors

glass wall cabinets in shaker kitchen

(Image credit: symphonic kitchens)

Spray glass cleaner or a mixture of white vinegar and water on a rag or paper towel before wiping down the glass or mirror panels of your cabinets. Do not spray directly on the glass as the liquid can seep into the gaskets of the frame, which could cause damage or discoloration. Shine with a dry microfiber cloth.

6. Wipe down handles, knobs and hinges

When cleaning kitchen cabinets, remember to wipe down cabinet hardware with a damp cloth, using a little diluted dish soap on stubborn grease stains. If the metal hardware is not lacquered – for example antique brass or copper – be sure to avoid any cleaning agents containing lemon or other acidic ingredients as they will quickly discolor the finish. A soft-bristled toothbrush can be useful around the hinge joints, where dirt and dust can collect, but be careful not to damage the cabinet’s finish in the process.

7. Put everything away again

Once you’ve cleaned the kitchen cabinets, let them air dry for an hour or two before refilling them. You can place a sheet of parchment paper on the base of any cabinets that you have found particularly difficult to clean, such as those containing molasses, syrup, and cooking oils.

How often should I clean kitchen cabinets?

The more you clean your kitchen cabinets, the easier and faster the chore will become. Try cleaning cabinet fronts with a damp cloth every week or so, but if you notice a spill or splatter, deal with it immediately. A deeper, more thorough cleaning can be done once or twice a year, or you might prefer to tackle one cabinet at a time throughout the year. The main goal is to prevent the buildup of that sticky, grease-based dirt that takes a lot of work to get rid of, not to mention unhygienic.

What should I use to clean kitchen cabinets?

“Dust and grease are never a winning combination and can be difficult to clean. It may take a bit of scrubbing but, in terms of cleaning products, a solution of washing up liquid, which is pH neutral so ideal for wooden surfaces, and the hottest water you can stand will soon give your cabinets looking fresh and clean,” says Annie McWillam, co-founder of cleaning brand Colt & Willow. “Don’t forget a microfiber cloth to finish – the easiest and most effective way to dry and shine.”

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