How To Clean Kitchen Cabinets Step by Step

Updated: October 2020

As with most rooms in a house, the kitchen might require some extra attention to ensure that it stays clean and welcoming to guests. Surely after the countless meals, gatherings, and cooking experiments, your counters, appliances, and even your cabinets likely boast some sticky reminders. Regular use is bound to create some wear and tear on the appearance of your cupboards; you might have fingerprints, old sauce stains, grease, or other buildup on the doors and hardware. To help restore your cabinetry to its former glory, check out the following cleaning tips.

Table of Contents

Getting Started

When it comes to extending the life of your cupboards, it is important to clean the surfaces regularly. However, certain cabinet materials — such as wood — require specific maintenance practices to preserve their luster and shine. The good news is that dish soap and hot water will usually do the trick, with vinegar and baking soda serving as backup. Metal, plastic, laminate, vinyl, and wood can all be wiped with an all-purpose cleaner or a simple homemade solution. Before you start, test the cleaner in a spot that’s not easily visible, just to make sure it won’t discolor the facade.

On the Surface

Implementing some of these tips into your cleaning routine could make a big difference in your kitchen’s appearance.

  1. Use the right cleaning solutions: Stronger chemicals and cleaners might work on porcelain, tile, or marble, but wood requires a gentler concoction. Combine a bit of dish soap or distilled white vinegar with hot water, then put it in a spray bottle for easy use.
  2. Make use of old toothbrushes: Before you toss them in the trash, use old toothbrushes to scrub any corners or spots on the cabinets that rags don’t quite reach. Spray the surface with your cleaning solution and gently brush any tough stains.
  3. Start at the top and work your way down: Working downward can ensure that you don’t miss a spot. If you do use a toothbrush, follow with a rag or cleaning cloth to wipe any extra liquid; leftover moisture might damage the finish.

Interior Cleaning

The inside of your cabinets might need some TLC as well, even if it’s not visible to everyone.

  1. Remove the contents: Dust and food particles can gather easily on cupboard shelves. Take out any cups, plates, bowls, or shelf lining to conduct a thorough cleaning.
  2. Be careful with cleaning products: For cabinet interiors, consider using a food-safe cleaner. For other chemical sprays, be sure to keep them away from dishes, silverware, and food containers so you don’t accidentally contaminate them with toxic residue.
  3. Clean thoroughly: To fully remove dust, crumbs, or mold, wipe the interior with your cleaning solution — and don’t forget the corners. Replace the shelves with new lining and you should be good to go.

For a Deeper Clean

For particularly tough jobs, add a bit of elbow grease to restore shine without damaging the finish.

  1. Wear rubber gloves if using abrasive solutions: When using harsh chemicals, you should always protect your skin. Make sure to wear gloves before cleaning.
  2. Make a paste: If grime and oil has set on the doors of your cabinets, create a paste out of baking soda and water or vinegar and salt. Use this mixture on tough stains — but don’t scrub too hard or you risk scratching the wood, paint, or metal surface. Baking soda and vinegar have properties that can lift stubborn smudges.
  3. Let it dry: If you opted for a deep cleaning, make sure to let the cabinets dry completely so there is no water damage or bubbles on the finish or paint job. Use a soft, dry cloth to wipe away moisture and pat dry.

What Not to Do When Cleaning

Maintaining the value of your kitchenware, appliances, and cabinets starts with good cleaning practices. Give regular attention to your kitchen, particularly in those areas where cooking grease, food residue, and stains begin to settle. You can mitigate long-term, expensive damage by keeping these suggestions in mind:

  • Don’t soak any wood
  • Avoid water on the hinges
  • Be careful with glass insets
  • Don’t let too much grime accumulate
  • Scrub carefully, not forcefully

Kitchen cabinets are often prone to drips and spills, especially with regular use. After being exposed to grease, grime, and sticky fingers, they can start to look dirty and dull. Go beyond the surface and keep an eye on any stubborn messes. There are various products available to make cleaning kitchen cupboards easy, and with the right techniques, you can prolong the life and beauty of your cabinetry.


Excited to share her love of home design and décor with readers, Jaclyn Crawford started with ImproveNet in 2016. As a staff writer, she enjoys chronicling the latest trends and ways you can make your home the loveliest it can be. You may also find her in ImproveNet videos, sharing tips and trends for your home.

About Author:

Danyal is a Freelance Copywriter that has been writing for online publications including Home improvement, newsworthy blogs and even a few personal blogs. He has a passion for writing and loves to share his knowledge with everyone who wants quality information.

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