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Kitchen Cabinets - Special Cleaning

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Some wood cabinet cleaners contain waxes which leave a shine or medium luster on the surface, and protect the wood. If the wood finish seems dull after cleaning, you may want to apply a solvent-based wood wax, which may or may not require buffing to create a luster.

Painted, plastic, and metal surfaces, may be cleaned occasionally with a creamy liquid wax which leaves a protective coating which retards soiling. If the finish is hard and in good condition, this extra step may not be needed.

NEVER use scouring powder or other abrasives on cabinets as they will damage the finish! On painted metal, or plastic surfaces, using an appropriate spray-on all-purpose household cleaner on stubborn sticky spots should remove them; rinse thoroughly afterward.

On natural finished wood, with a heavy buildup of grease and grime, that will not come off with special wood cleaners, you may need to use a straight solvent such as paint thinner. This is highly flammable and toxic to breathe. BE SURE THERE ARE NO OPEN FLAMES OR PILOT LIGHTS OR SPARKS IN THE KITCHEN OR IN ROOMS AROUND THE KITCHEN, AND HAVE OPEN WINDOWS FOR GOOD VENTILATION. REMOVING DOORS AND DRAWERS AND WORKING OUTDOORS, WITH NO FLAMES OR SPARKS NEARBY, MAY BE A GOOD ALTERNATIVE.

Test on the inside of a door to be sure it will not harm the finish. Dampen a cloth with the thinner-solvent and rub vigorously on the cabinets. Refold the cloth as it picks up dirt, and change to clean cloths when needed, storing used cloths in a closed metal or glass container for disposal. If after this heavy cleaning, the finish looks dull, apply furniture wax or polish, following the label directions, and buff. If, after cleaning, the finish looks too bad, they may need refinishing.

This article was written by Anne Field, Extension Specialist, Emeritus with references from the Soap and Detergent Association.

MSU 2003

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