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How to Clean Wood Cabinets Like a Pro: Step-by-Step Guide

by Gary Wade • February 19, 2024

Cabinets serve as the foundation of our kitchens, providing functional storage and contributing to the overall aesthetic of the space. However, they can become a magnet for grime and grease, especially when they're made of wood. In this comprehensive guide, we'll provide you with detailed instructions on how to clean wood cabinets effectively, ensuring they maintain their beauty and longevity.

The Importance of Regular Cabinet Cleaning

Cleaning wood cabinets is not just about maintaining their appearance, but it also extends their lifespan. This is particularly true for wood kitchen cabinets, which are often exposed to cooking grease, food particles, and dust. Regular cleaning prevents the accumulation of these substances, keeping your cabinets in top shape.

Guide to Cleaning Wood Cabinets

Assessing the Condition of Your Cabinets

Before you dive into the cleaning process, it's crucial to examine the state of your cabinets.

If your cabinets have:

  • Faded or worn-out finishes
  • Persistent food stains or water damage
  • Scratches or nicks

The issue may extend beyond a simple cleaning. In such cases, consider renewing or refinishing your cabinets.

How to Clean Wood Cabinets Like a Pro

Choosing the Right Cleaning Solution for Wood Cabinets

The secret to effectively cleaning your wood cabinets lies in selecting the right cleaning solution. It needs to be gentle, non-acidic, and non-abrasive. Here are some of the best cleaners for wood cabinets:

  • DIY Solutions: Basic household items can work well in cleaning your cabinets.
  • Dish Soap: An alkaline solution that effectively cuts through grease and dust.
  • Baking Soda: Mixed with warm water, it can handle stubborn food spills and is also great for cleaning hinges and pulls.
  • Oil Soap Wood Cleaners: These are stronger than dish soap and can remove grease and grime without damaging the wood.
  • Carnauba Wax Cleaners: Found in high-quality wood polishes, carnauba wax helps protect and restore shine to your cabinets.
How to Clean Wood Kitchen Cabinets

How to Clean Wood Kitchen Cabinets: Step-by-Step Guide

Here's a step-by-step guide on how to clean kitchen cabinets made of wood:

  • Choose a Cleaning Solution: Select a gentle DIY solution or a cleaner specifically formulated for wood cabinets.
  • Clean the Cabinets: Apply the solution to a soft cloth and wipe down all cabinet doors, drawers, and face frames.
  • Handle Stubborn Build-Up: Use a soft scrubber or toothbrush to remove any drips or stuck-on food.

Do's and Don'ts of Regular Cabinet Cleaning

When regularly cleaning your cabinets, make sure to:

  • Clean After Cooking: After each cooking session, wiping down the cabinets can prevent build-up.
  • Clean Glass and Mirror Features: Use a glass cleaner to clean any glass or mirrored surfaces.


  • Non-Drying Oils for DIY Solutions: These oils attract dust and eventually go bad. Instead, use drying oils like linseed, tung, lemon, orange, or walnut oil.
  • Vinegar-Based Solutions: Despite being a great cleaner for many surfaces, vinegar can damage the finish of wood cabinets due to its acidity.
Learn How to Clean Wood Cabinets

Deep Cleaning Your Wood Cabinets

Deep cleaning should be done every 3-6 months. Here are the steps for deep cleaning:

  • Select a Cleaning Solution: Choose a gentle DIY solution or a specialized wood cabinet cleaner.
  • Empty and Vacuum Cabinets: Remove all items and vacuum the insides to get rid of crumbs and dust.
  • Wipe Down Cabinets with Warm Water: This step helps remove grease and grime before the actual cleaning.
  • Wash the Cabinets: Apply the cleaning solution with a soft cloth or sponge, making sure to rinse frequently.
  • Spot Scrub Stains and Build-Up: Use a soft scrubber or toothbrush to tackle stubborn stains.
  • Rinse Cabinets with Warm Water: Use a damp cloth to remove any remaining cleaning solution.
  • Dry Cabinets: Thoroughly dry all cabinets with a soft cloth to prevent water damage and discoloration.

Do's and Don'ts of Deep Cleaning Cabinets

In deep cleaning your cabinets, make sure to:

  • Scrub the Hardware: Clean hinges, handles, and knobs with a toothbrush dipped in your cleaning solution.
  • Wipe the Sides of Drawers: These areas can often be overlooked but can get as dirty as the rest of your cabinets.


  • Soaking Cabinet Doors and Drawers: Excessive moisture can cause serious damage to your cabinets.
  • Spraying Water or Cleaning Solutions Directly to Your Cabinets: Apply water and solutions to a cloth before wiping your cabinets.
Discover How to Clean Wood Cabinets

Key Areas to Clean in Cabinets

Whether you're deep cleaning or doing a quick wipe-down, focus on these areas:

  • Cabinet Pulls: These are the most frequently touched parts of your kitchen cabinets, so they need regular cleaning.
  • Corners and Bevels: If your cabinets have recessed or raised panels with bevels, the corners can quickly accumulate dirt.
  • Cabinets Near the Stove: These cabinets collect a lot of grease from cooking, so they may require extra cleaning.

When to Refinish Cabinets

If your cabinets require more frequent cleaning, if the finish looks dull or worn, or you're ready for a new look, it's probably time to refinish your cabinets. A cabinet refinishing can completely transform your kitchen or bathroom, giving your cabinets a new lease on life

In conclusion, understanding how to clean wood cabinets can ensure they maintain their beauty and functionality. It's a simple task that, when done regularly, can make a significant difference in the appearance and longevity of your kitchen.

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