Do’s and Don’ts for Safely Cleaning Your Wood Cabinets

Endlessly beautiful and timeless, your wood cabinets might be your favorite part of your kitchen. Unfortunately, your cabinets take a lot of punishment from splattered food and grease spatter, to dirty fingerprints. Do you know the best way to clean your wood cabinets without damaging them?

Whether you just bought new kitchen cabinetry and want to keep it looking beautiful or you’ve had your cabinets for years and want to give them a thorough cleaning, here are some do’s and don’ts to safely clean your wood cabinetry and get great results.

What NOT to Do

Wood cabinets are finished using special varnishes that protect the underlying wood from damage. It’s important to avoid doing anything that can strip the varnish from the cabinets or damage the wood underneath. So, before we get into proper cleaning methods, here are some things you should avoid at all costs when it comes to cleaning your wood cabinets.

Don’t Get Your Cabinetry Too Wet

Water is one of the worst enemies of wood cabinetry and the leading cause of damage to cabinets caused by homeowners. This is especially true in areas around the sink. Be sure splashes are wiped up immediately and never let water pool or drip on cabinet drawers. Also, be careful when you mop your floor. Don’t splash water on lower cabinets or allow water to settle on the kick plates.

Don’t Use Coarse or Abrasive Cloths or Pads

It’s tempting to pick up an abrasive sponge or cloth to remove a sticky spot on your cabinets. However, abrasive cloths or pads can dull or damage the finish of your cabinets or leave scratches that can’t be removed.

Don’t Use Soap Pads, Scouring Pads and Brushes

Soap pads, scouring pads and brushes are great for pots and pans, but don’t be tempted to use them on your wood cabinets. All of these items are abrasive and can scratch your cabinetry. Soap and scouring pads may also contain chemicals that will damage the stain or finish of your cabinetry.

Don’t Use Ammonia or Products That Contain Ammonia (Like Glass Cleaner)

While ammonia is great for removing grease, it’s too harsh to use on your wood cabinetry and can damage the finish. You should also avoid spraying your cabinets with glass cleaner because glass cleaner also contains ammonia. If you need to clean glass cabinet doors, make sure you shield the wood part of the door from any overspray.

Don’t Use Strong Solvent Cleaners, Mineral Spirits, Paint Thinner or Other Harsh Cleaning Chemicals

Strong solvent cleaners, mineral spirits, paint thinner and other harsh chemicals should never be used on your cabinetry because they can damage the varnish that protects the underlying wood of your cabinets.

Don’t Use Dust Sprays Intended for Furniture on Your Wood Cabinetry

While products like Endust or wood polishes or sprays may make your wood furniture shine, don’t use these products on your cabinetry. They may contain chemicals that could damage your cabinetry and they often leave a sticky residue that attracts dust and dirt that can give your cabinets a dull appearance.

Regular Cleaning

The best way to keep your cabinetry looking great is to keep dust, dirt, grease, and fingerprints from building up over time.

Wipe Up Spills or Splashes Immediately

Use a damp, soft cloth to wipe up spills, splashes or spatter right when it happens.

Dust Your Cabinetry Regularly

Dust your cabinetry with a soft duster or soft cloth. Keeping your cabinetry free of dust will prevent scratches and keep your cabinetry looking bright and new.

Wipe Down Your Cabinetry

Wipe down your cabinet doors and drawer fronts at least once a week to prevent buildup. If you handle this job regularly, you won’t need soap or special cleaners. Plain water and a soft cloth will do the job perfectly. Simply wipe down your cabinet doors and drawer fronts using a damp – but not wet – soft cloth. Wipe your cabinetry dry with another clean, soft cloth. Never use hot water to clean your cabinetry!

Deep Cleaning

If dirt, grime, or grease build up on your cabinetry over a period of time, you can use diluted soapy water or a mild, all-purpose cleaner without ammonia to clean your wood cabinetry.

Oil soap cleaners, specially formulated for wood components, are also safe to use.

Make sure you dilute any cleaners in water and avoid spraying the cleaner directly on the wood. Be sure not to get the cabinetry too wet and never use hot water. Wipe down the cabinets with a dry, soft cloth to complete the job.

Safely cleaning your wood cabinets shouldn’t be confusing or difficult. Just remember to avoid harsh chemicals and abrasive tools, and use a damp cloth and plain water for most cleaning jobs. Sticking to the basics and cleaning your cabinets on a regular basis will ensure your cabinetry stays beautiful for years to come.