Cleaning your kitchen cabinets can be a quick, easy task or it can take hours, depending on what kind of shape the cabinets are in. One common problem is that grease, food particles, and smoke can stick to the surface of the cabinets, making them grimy. Since the main culprit is usually grease, it's important to clean kitchen cabinets with products that cut grease but don't create additional buildup. You'll want to choose the best cleanser and consider whether you're going after exterior or interior cabinet grime. Generally, to clean kitchen cabinets, you'll want to start by wiping down the exterior with cleanser; after removing all dishes, food, or other items inside the cabinets, vacuum or sweep dirt from the shelves inside, and then wipe them down as well.
Choose a Cleanser
Dishwashing liquids or mild laundry detergents are effective cleaners for most cabinet materials. To make sure your cleanser isn't too strong, you may want to dilute one part detergent in two parts warm water to make an easy kitchen cleanser. When using laundry detergent, it's a good idea to use one that is specially designed to remove grease and oil.
You can also use an all-purpose household cleaner to clean kitchen cabinets, but read the label carefully to be sure it won't ruin the finish. It's also a good idea to test the cleaner on a hidden area of one of the cabinets; many commercial household cleaning products leave a sticky residue, and some can cause significant damage to wood finish or paint. Be sure to empty the cabinets before using a harsher detergent or chemical, even on the outside so that your dishes remain protected.
Vinegar is a good, natural, all-purpose cleaner that can clean kitchen cabinets and remove buildup. Try using a solution of half vinegar and half water for cabinets that just need a regular cleaning; to cut through greasy buildup, apply undiluted vinegar. Lemon juice can be used instead of vinegar if you don't like the smell. A paste made of baking soda and water also makes a good natural scrub and helps remove a lot of grime from dirty cabinets.
Exterior Cabinet Cleaning
Clean kitchen cabinets from the outside in by gently scrubbing the exterior surfaces using a sponge or an old washcloth and whichever cleaning solution you choose. Don't use steel wool, scrub brushes, or any other item that can scratch the finish. It's a good idea to start in an inconspicuous area to make sure that your cleaning doesn't damage the cabinet. Once you've started cleaning, pay particular attention to the area around door handles and drawer pulls, as these places tend to be the stickiest. If possible, removing cabinet hardware before cleaning will make it easier to clean these areas.
Interior Cabinet Cleaning
After removing the contents of the cabinet, vacuum, sweep, or wipe up any crumbs or food particles from inside the cabinets. Using a sponge or cloth, use one of the cleaning solutions to clean the shelves, bottom, and sides of the cabinet interior. In some cases, the shelf liners may need to be replaced if they are too dirty or worn. Before putting food or dishes back in the cabinet, make sure you wipe down the interior with a clean, damp cloth and dry it with a towel or washcloth to remove any cleanser residue.
Since kitchens get so much use, cleaning your cabinets on a regular basis can help improve the look — and health — of the space. After a deep cleaning, be sure to give the cabinets a periodic wipe down with warm soapy water in order to keep them looking their best. Cabinets that look dull even after cleaning can be buffed with a furniture wax or polish suitable for their specific materials and finish.