How To Clean Your Kitchen Cabinets

A helpful guide to one of the most visible surfaces in the home.

Nothing tells the story of your life quite like your kitchen cabinets. Every crusted-over grease splatter and smudged-on fingerprint is a tale about how you live, what you eat, and who you share your time with.

We prefer that way of thinking about our dirty cabinets over the idea that they’re basically just hotbeds for sticky messes and stains.

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Whether you’re a glass half full or half empty kind of person, stressing about your messy cabinets shouldn’t be something you spend time on. That’s why we’ve developed a simple cheat sheet for cleaning your cabinets, and paired it with helpful hacks for dealing with any kind of accident—from shoe scuffs to food splatters. No matter if your cabinets are wood or painted, laminate or glass, we’ve got the step-by-step instructions you need to have them looking good as new again. (And, while you’ve already got your kitchen-cleaning mojo working, you might consider adding a few additional jobs like wiping out your microwave, degreasing your stovetop and/or polishing up those gorgeous stainless steel appliances. But you do you.)

How to clean your kitchen cabinets

While the fundamentals are similar, the way you clean your cabinets will be based upon what type of cabinets you have in your kitchen. Find step-by-step instructions for the four most common types below.

How to clean painted cabinets

  1. In a clean bowl, create a simple baking soda paste by mixing 2 parts baking soda with 1 part water.
  2. Using a clean microfiber rag, dab a corner into the mixture and spread the paste on any splatters, stains, or imperfections. Let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes.
  3. When time is up, wipe the spot clean with a towel.
  4. For greasy food splatters, dip a cleaning rag into a diluted ammonia solution. Wipe in a curricular motion until the stain is gone.

How to clean wood cabinets

Because wood cabinets come in a variety of finishes, it’s best to be conservative with your approach to spot cleaning. When in doubt, test your cleaning solution on an out-of-sight area before proceeding.

  1. In a clean bowl, create a natural cleaning solution by mixing 1 cup of water with 1 cup of white vinegar. Transfer the cleaning solution to an empty spray bottle.
  2. Spray your cleaning solution onto a microfiber cleaning rag, then wipe down the entire cabinet face, starting from the top and working your way downward. Be sure to wipe in the direction of the woodgrain to avoid any scratches and don’t overstature your cleaning rag, as excess moisture can warp or bend wood.
  3. When finished, completely dry your cabinets using another microfiber cloth, making sure to buff out any lingering residue.

How to clean laminate cabinets

For laminate cabinets, a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser will be your secret weapon.

  1. Dampen the Magic Eraser sponge with a little water, then squeeze it a few times to activate the cleaning foam.
  2. Buff out stains and spots by moving the Magic Eraser over the stain in a circular motion, starting with low pressure and increasing it as necessary.
  3. When the stain has lifted be sure to wipe away any residue, rinse the spot with a damp microfiber rag, and then dry with a clean cloth.
  4. For particularly stubborn stains, you can apply a baking soda paste (2 parts baking soda to 1 part water) or spot clean with a diluted vinegar cleaning solution (1 cup of water mixed with 1 cup of white vinegar).

How to clean glass-front cabinets

  1. In a clean bowl, mix up your own glass cleaning solution by combining ¼ cup of white vinegar with 2 cups of water (or, if you hate the smell of vinegar, make an alternative glass cleaning solution by mixing ½ teaspoon of highly concentrated dish soap like Dawn with 2 cups of water).
  2. Transfer the glass cleaning solution to a spray bottle, then spritz your glass cabinets generously.
  3. Wipe the front of the cabinets down with a clean microfiber cleaning rag. Don’t forget to also spritz, and wipe down, the inside surfaces of the cabinet as well.
  4. After your first pass, be sure to wipe down each surface once more with a clean, wet rag, to remove any soapy residue and streaks.

Helpful hacks to deal with common cabinet culprits

If you’re going to clean your cabinets, you really want them to shine, right? Get the most out of your efforts with some of our favorite cabinet cleaning hacks and push back against the most common cabinet-killing culprits.

  • Dust - Cleaning the outside surface of your cabinets is only half the battle. Transform the inside by removing all the objects and setting them in a safe place. Run a Swiffer Duster throughout the intenterio of the cabinet, allowing its flexible microfiber strands to bend and flex into all the nooks and crannies, picking up dust as it goes. Voila, the dust is gone.
  • Scuffs - Use a white eraser (like you’d use for pencils) to remove scuffs caused by chairs, shoes, or other furniture. Gently rub the eraser along the affected areas and then wipe clean with a cloth. To hit the extra-easy button, grab a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, wet it down, and go to town. When the scuff is gone, rinse the area with a wet rag and dry with a cloth.
  • Food splatters and grease -While we love DIY solutions, nothing quite does the job like the powerful clean of Mr. Clean Clean Freak. Spray on stained areas, let it sit for a few minutes, then wipe clean with a damp cleaning cloth. If you don’t have that handy, create a baking soda paste by mixing 2 parts baking soda with 1 part water. Apply to the stain with a clean microfiber rag, then allow it to sit for at least five minutes before wiping it clean.
  • Fingerprints - One of life’s biggest unsolved mysteries is how we humans seem to get so many fingerprints on cabinet doors. (Is it that hard to grab the handle?) To get rid of them, make a mixture of 1 part white vinegar with 2 parts water. Spritz the mixture onto the cabinet, then wipe it clean with a microfiber cloth to avoid creating streaks.

All joking aside, your kitchen cabinets play a huge role in your home. Not just because they hold all your precious flatware, plates, mugs, and gadgets, but because they’re a main visual focal point. Thankfully, with these guidelines and helpful hacks, keeping them clean doesn’t have to be a big chore. Sorry grease stains, you lose this one.

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