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October 28, 2019 8 Comments

Your finished wooden cabinetry is the focal point of your kitchen or bathroom. Since these rooms tend to be high-traffic areas, general grime, spills, oily hands, dust and grease are common. No matter how careful you may be as a homeowner, your cabinetry will need a cleaning every once in a while. Regularly maintaining your finished cabinets will keep them looking their best, but wiping up spills of any kind is essential for preventing permanent damage.

In general, you should incorporate these three occasions into your cabinet cleaning routine: 

  • Once you notice spills and stains:¬†Moisture, food or beauty products can ruin your cabinetry's finish. If you're cooking and see grease or food stains on your cabinet surfaces, clean them immediately with an oil-based soap and warm water. You can also remove stubborn stains with vinegar and water, careful not to rub too hard, or you'll scratch the finish.
  • Once a week:¬†To save time and energy, instead of wiping down the cabinets every day, you can spot-clean them at the end or beginning of the week. Spray multi-purpose cleaner or oil-based soap on a microfiber cloth and wipe fingerprints and other stains that may arise on the surfaces.
  • Once a season:¬†You should deep clean your cabinets at least three or four times each year. Clear all the contents out of your storage areas. Using a mild cleaner and microfiber cloth, clean the shelves and both sides of the door. If your cabinetry has intricate crevices that are hard to reach with a towel, like in a¬†raised-panel design, use a clean toothbrush. Let it dry before you put the contents back into your shelves.¬†

Use this cabinetry cleaning guide to discover how to clean wood cabinets and make them shine.



Wood finish comes in a variety of colors and shades, from the natural appearance of solid wood to a bold color like navy blue. Finished wood cabinetry is durable and visually appealing, but it requires special care that will prolong its life and keep up its beauty. Here are some general tips for cleaning finished wood cabinets: 

  • Use soft brushes or cloths:¬†We recommend using a microfiber cloth or achamois made from non-abrasive materials to clean your kitchen cabinetry. Use a damp cloth since a dry one could compromise the integrity of the finished¬†surface¬†or attract dust and other particles. Wipe with the grain when you're cleaning or dusting because rubbing the cloth in any other direction will only make small scratches more noticeable.
  • Mix a mild detergent with water to get rid of stains:¬†If you need to use a multi-purpose solution to help get rid of tough stains, you can make a solution of mild detergent and water. Using cleaning products that contain ammonia, bleach or other acidic or abrasive substances on wooden cabinets can damage, dull or discolor the finish. Instead, use oil-based soaps or grease-cutting laundry and dish detergent.
  • Avoid water saturation:¬†Since wood is sensitive to water, if liquid somehow spills onto your cabinet doors or drawer fronts and drips into the framing, the wood can expand and compromise the integrity of the joints and finish. Instead of allowing water to accumulate on your cabinetry and potentially cause rot, dry spills and water splatters immediately with a soft cloth. You should also avoid leaving a damp cloth hanging on your cabinet doors.
  • Avoid polishes and waxes:¬†Using waxes and other finishing products continually may result in a film accumulating¬†on the¬†cabinet's¬†surface, attracting dirt, dust¬†and other¬†airborne¬†pollutants.¬†Debris from cleaning with wax or polish may also affect the finish's shine, making the coating appear blotchy.



Spills and sticky residue of any kind can reduce the visual appeal of your wood cabinets. They can also ruin the finish quality, which means you would need to get them replaced. You should clean up spills on your kitchen or bathroom cabinetry as soon as they happen to maintain their luxurious appearance.

However, you may not notice some milk splattering on the cabinets or shampoo running into your drawer fronts. You can make inspecting and cleaning sticky wood cabinets a habit every week to prevent severe grime buildup. If you notice sticky residue on your wood cabinetry, follow these tips to remove it.


The best way to clean wood kitchen cabinets with residue is an oil-based soap that cuts through grease and grime. If you don't have mild detergent in the house, you can also use a hardwood cabinet-cleaning product to remove the residue from your cabinet fronts or clean them with an all-purpose spray as long as you don't mind scrubbing. Follow these instructions for choosing the right cleaner:

  • Read the reviews of the detergent online before you buy it to make sure it works for your specific type of cabinetry.
  • Contact your cabinet manufacturer if you're unsure if the cleaning product will remove the finish from your doors or drawer fronts.
  • Before using any new cleaners, test a small amount on a discreet part of the cabinet to see if it pulls off the color or finish.
  • Use the appropriate cleaner for the stain that you need to remove.
  • Follow the instructions on the bottle of your cleaner of choice to find out exactly how much water and soap you should use in your mixture.


Whether you're cleaning the cabinets in your bathroom or kitchen, you may discover various stains on the surfaces you need to remove with the appropriate cleaner. Follow these tips for removing specific stains from your wood cabinets: 

  • Fingerprints:¬†Residue from fingers can leave marks on your drawer fronts and cabinet drawers. Oil-based soap is the most efficient for removing fingerprints from wood surfaces, but if you don't have any nearby, you can also use a cloth soaked with half vinegar and half water. Buff clean with a polishing cloth after the spot is dry.
  • Water stains:¬†Hard water can leave stains on your wood cabinetry as you're trying to clean it, especially in the bathroom. Prevent water stains by using distilled water instead of tap whenever you wipe down your wooden cabinets. You can also dab mayonnaise or white toothpaste onto a water stain to pull it from the wood.
  • Food splatters:¬†When acidic ketchup squirts onto your cabinetry, or a beverage spills over your drawer fronts, clean the residue as soon as possible to avoid them from setting in and ruining the finish of your wood cabinets. After you've spot-wiped them with a damp cloth, mix a paste of water and baking soda, and apply it to the stain. Let it sit for several minutes, then wipe it with a cloth. Polish the area with a new clean cloth.
  • Spills and drips:¬†To spot-treat stains from liquid spills in the bathroom or kitchen, mix oil-based soap with warm water in a bowl. Dunk a toothbrush or other small, soft-bristled brush into the solution and scrub the areas that contain residue. Wipe down the hardware, hard-to-reach places, cabinet surfaces and any grime that might have ended up inside your cabinetry.


Depending on the size and strength of the stain, you may want to repeat whatever method you use to ensure a clean finish. As you wipe down the wooden surfaces the first time, remember to follow these tips so that you can effectively remove the stain: 

  • Read the instructions on the bottle and let the product sit for the appropriate dwell time before wiping the solution away from the cabinet surface.
  • Wait for the product to dry before applying any more solution to see if the color changes back to normal.
  • With more significant stains, expect to repeat the process a few times.
  • Consider getting your cabinet doors and drawer fronts replaced if you have stubborn stains that won't come out after multiple tries.
  • You can also use more abrasive materials to get rid of stains that have become embedded in the wood cabinetry.¬†



Grease can linger on cabinet surfaces for a long time after you prepare meals on the stove. You can use an oil-based soap and clean your cabinetry similarly to how you would clean fingerprints and other marks. However, because grease stains are more stubborn, you might have to repeat the process several times before you have a clean surface.

To remove grease stains and streaks from your wooden cabinetry, here are some effective cleaners:

  • Hot water and detergent:¬†Dish soap has a reputation for being tough on grease, cutting through hard stains on your wooden kitchen cabinets. All you need is a squirt of grease-cutting dish soap in a bucket of hot water. Use a scouring pad to remove grease on your cabinets. Apply light pressure on the sponge so that you don't scratch the surface. After you've finished, rinse and dry your wooden cabinetry.
  • Adhesive remover:¬†When applying commercial adhesive remover to grease stains, wear rubber gloves to protect your hands. Set the cleaner over the stain and leave it for about two minutes or the time on the packaging's instructions. Briefly heat a damp microfiber cloth in the microwave, then wipe away the grease layer. After the stain is gone, clean the spot with water and a mild wood detergent, drying it thoroughly.
  • All-purpose cleaner:¬†To get rid of grimy stains on your kitchen cabinets, leave the detergent for at least 10 minutes before wiping it with a warm, damp microfiber cloth. Check the manufacturer's instructions for the all-purpose cleaner so that you can know precisely how long to put it on your cabinets.

  • Vinegar:¬†You can use vinegar for light cleaning because it can remove the sticky residue from your surfaces, and it's a natural disinfectant. However, you should avoid using it for severe applications, such as removing grease, because it's also an acid. To protect the finish on your wood cabinetry and effectively clean grease, mix vinegar with warm water and test a small amount on the stain before you wipe the whole door.

Keep in mind that there are also several options that you should avoid for trying to clean the grease stains off your wooden cabinetry because they may reduce your cabinet doors' visual appeal: 

  • Carnauba wax:¬†You may discover a wood cleaner with Brazilian carnauba wax, an ingredient in high-quality wood polishes and soaps. Manufacturers claim that its hardness and durability can give your wooden cabinets a smooth, clean finish and allow them to last longer. Keep in mind that it can add blotches to the shine, so we don't recommend using it.
  • Olive oil:¬†To clean grease, you should avoid using another wet, oily substance to eliminate the stains. Olive oil doesn't dry, so instead of leaving a clean, smooth finish, it will make a bigger mess and attract dust. Only use dry oils, such as linseed, orange and walnut oil, to clean wood. Once these substances dry on your kitchen surfaces, they form a hard protective layer on the wooden cabinetry.
  • Abrasive materials:¬†Household baking soda and abrasive brushes and sponges can remove pen marks, food splatters or paint splotches from wood cabinets. However, these rough materials can also ruin the finish of your wood cabinets. Test any abrasive materials on a small hidden spot first, especially if your cabinetry has a dark shade. When using baking soda, mix two parts baking soda with one part water, and apply the paste and rub until you've completely removed it.


You should deep clean your kitchen cabinets at least once every few months to prevent dust, dirt and grime from sticking. This residue could attract pests to your food supply besides reducing the quality of your cabinet shelves. Follow these tips for cleaning inside the kitchen cabinets so that your whole cabinetry looks brand new:

  • Empty each shelf:¬†Start from the highest shelf and remove all the items from your cabinets and drawers. Put your food, utensils and dishware on a table or a counter near you. Try to keep all similar things together so that you can organize your cabinet shelves efficiently after cleaning them.
  • Get rid of anything you don't need:¬†While your items are in front of you,¬†get rid of anything that is nearly empty or expired. If any boxes or bags have gotten worn, put the contents into jars and label them to prevent crumbs or debris from leaking into your cabinet shelves. It would help if you kept a list of the items you throw¬†away, so the next time you're at the grocery store, you know what to buy.
  • Get debris off the shelf:¬†If necessary, get rid of any torn or discolored shelf lining. Vacuum the cabinets out after you've emptied them before wiping away sticky residue or other food pieces.
  • Wash the walls and shelves:¬†Clean the cabinets with a mild, oil-cutting detergent and warm water. Spray the interior shelves and wipe the moisture with a sponge or cloth. Instead of saturating your cabinets, apply a modest amount of cleaner so that the wood doesn't rot.
  • Deep clean the inside:¬†Sometimes, you may find pesky stains inside your cabinets from a jar of honey or other sticky foods. Attack residue that remains after initial cleaning with a more robust cleaner, such as vinegar or baking soda. Be careful when using abrasive materials like baking soda to scrub the grease and dirt from your cabinet shelves. Brushing the stain too harshly can leave scratches inside your cabinetry.
  • Rinse the surfaces:¬†Using another clean, damp cloth, rinse your kitchen cabinets' shelves and side panels. Wipe the cabinets dry with a third cloth to ensure no standing water is left to damage the cabinet surfaces, including the metal hinges that are also sensitive to moisture damage.
  • Restock your shelves:¬†Inspect your interior cabinetry for water and other debris before putting the items back on the racks. Consider reorganizing your kitchen cabinets to provide a more convenient configuration for preparing or storing meals.


You should clean your wood cabinets once a week and once a season and also practice habits to care for them whenever you use them. Follow these steps for preventing wood cabinets from developing stains in the future:

 how to care for wood cabinets

  • Install hardware on your cabinets:¬†If you have wooden cabinets without handles or knobs, attaching hardware on your doors and drawers can help prevent greasy fingers from touching the wood surfaces. Cleaning metal knobs and handles with an all-purpose cleaner and a washcloth is much easier than trying to scrub grimy dirt off your cabinetry.
  • Use a cabinet shelf liner:¬†Liners of various materials can help you preserve your cabinet shelves, serving as an extra buffer against moisture damage, especially after washing the dishes. They're also more convenient to wipe clean than wood. You can find shelf liners that fit your specific application at your local department store or online.
  • Keep doors and drawers closed:¬†Crumbs and dust tend to accumulate inside cabinet doors and drawers, so keeping them closed at all times helps prevent excess debris buildup. If your cabinet doors or drawer fronts have difficulty closing, get the hinges or drawer glides fixed as soon as possible.
  • Avoid contact with water:¬†Moisture can warp or rot your wooden cabinets if you don't take care of them properly. You can clean with a small amount of water without damaging them, but you should avoid long-term exposure to moisture. Instead of hanging towels or washcloths over your cabinet doors, hang them from the stove handle or use a dish drying mat on your countertops. You should also clean up spills as soon as possible.
  • Wax your cabinets:¬†About twice a year, put wood furniture wax on your cabinets for a protective barrier that keeps debris, oil and grime from sticking to the wood and discoloring it. Spray the wax onto a rag and wipe it over the entire surface of your kitchen or bathroom cabinets so that the finish comes out smooth.
  • Clean your doors and drawer fronts after cooking:¬†Food particles and grease can affect your cabinetry's quality, especially if the cabinets are near the stove or a place where you prepare food. If you notice stains after cooking, dip a clean rag or washcloth into a vinegar solution and wipe down the cabinet doors and under the cabinets.


After cleaning your cabinetry, you might discover that it needs an upgrade. At Cabinet Doors 'N' More, we provide made-to-order cabinet refacing products that complement your current cabinets or give your kitchen or bathroom a brand-new look. We're currently offering 10% off on orders with a total of $750 or more. You can purchase any of these items from our inventory, customizing them to your size and design preferences: 

We offer free shipping and a fast turnaround for manufacturing and delivering your order. We also provide a one-year warranty for our cabinetry products. Call us at 1-667-877-8777 or contact us online for more information about our inventory.

 Learn More About Cabinet Cleaning & Care

8 Responses

Jeanie Manser
Jeanie Manser

January 18, 2024

Thanks for sharing this, it’s really helpful! We’ve been having some deep cleaning recently before all the snow comes and I want to be better with maintaining my home rather than letting it get really dirty before doing something. We just had our carpets cleaned from all the pet stains, so now I want to move to the kitchen and these tips help out a lot! Thank you!


September 22, 2023

Our cabinets are about 20 years old and had a lot of wear and tear from raising kids. We recently got the cabinets refinished and these tips will help me keep them fresh! Thank you!

Sara Peterson
Sara Peterson

September 22, 2023

Great tips! Thanks for sharing this information. We just had our cabinets refinished and I will be using these tips to make them last as long as possible. Thanks for being so clear and detailed!

Addie Beckman
Addie Beckman

July 27, 2023

Great post! We recently had our bathroom cabinets refinished and want to make sure we take the best care of them to prolong their life! This post was a great and will help us avoid any major mistakes in the future! Thank you!

Anaheim Bathroom Remodel
Anaheim Bathroom Remodel

May 09, 2023

Great article! Proper cleaning and care are essential to maintain the beauty and durability of finished cabinetry. The ultimate guide to cleaning and care for finished cabinetry can provide homeowners with valuable information on how to keep their cabinets looking their best. Some key tips to keep in mind include using gentle cleaning solutions, avoiding harsh abrasives, wiping up spills and stains promptly, and avoiding excessive exposure to moisture or sunlight. With proper cleaning and care, finished cabinetry can maintain its appearance and function for many years to come.

Olivia Smart
Olivia Smart

May 09, 2023

Thank you for explaining how abrasive materials can ruin the finish on your cabinets, so you should be careful when using them. I need to clean some of the cabinets in our kitchen, but wanted to make sure that the materials I have on hand wouldn’t harm them. I’ll have to look everything over again to make sure that there’s nothing too abrasive.

Thomas Clarence
Thomas Clarence

October 05, 2021

I like how you explained that it is a good idea to spot clean your cabinets at the end of every week. My wife and I are wanting to get some new cabinets installed under the counters in our kitchen. We don’t like having to do cleaning chores every day, so doing spot cleaning at the end of the week will work great for us.

Evan Jr. Wilson
Evan Jr. Wilson

October 05, 2021

Such A Great Blog. Thank U For Sharing Useful Information.
This Article Really Amazing And So Much Helpful For Me. In fact, I found the information I was looking for in your article.
It’s really helpful. I have benefited from reading your article. Thank you very

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