April 8

How to Clean Wood and Laminate Kitchen Cabinets

Written by: Nadia El-Yaouti


We may earn commissions from qualifying purchases at no extra charge to you. For more information, check out our Disclaimer

Kitchen cabinets are one of the first things that pop out in any kitchen. And because they can define the overall look of your kitchen space, it's important to keep them clean so that they last long and look great throughout their lifetime.

Before you start scrubbing away at your cabinets however, it's important to know how to properly clean them. Depending on the type of kitchen cabinets you have, there are some do's and don'ts in terms of how to clean kitchen cabinets properly.

Let’s take a look!

Types of Kitchen Cabinets 

Over the years, the style and design of kitchen cabinets have evolved, but the material used to build kitchen cabinets have remained relatively the same.

You'll typically find three types of kitchen cabinet materials. There are finished wood kitchen cabinets, laminate wood kitchen cabinets, and a mixture of wooden cabinets with glass inserts. 

Don't know whether your cabinets are wood or laminate, click here.

Knowing the type of material your cabinets are made out of will help guide you in using the right cleaning methods.

For example, vinegar can be a great natural cleaning agent but because it is acidic, it may ruin the finish of certain wooden cabinets.

Likewise, cabinets that have a mixture of wooden and glass doors will need to be cleaned with glass cleaners so that foggy streaks are not left behind.

How to Clean Wood Kitchen Cabinets

Most kitchen cabinets are made out of finished wood, with one of the most popular finished wood options being red oak.

Regardless of what type of wood your kitchen cabinets are made out of, the cleaning process is pretty much the same. Here's how to clean your wood kitchen cabinets:

Use Warm, Soapy Water

As we mentioned earlier, the acidic nature of vinegar can leave some finished wood cabinets looking dull after continued use. Because of this, it is best to avoid using undiluted vinegar to clean the outside of your wood cabinets.

Instead, use a warm soapy water solution to lift away grease and other stains. 

To create your soapy solution, mix a couple of squeezes of dish soap into a bowl of hot water. Dip a soft washcloth into the hot dish soap solution and wring it out.

You want your washcloth to be damp, not soaking wet. You can also use the soft side of a sponge to clean with. 

Using gentle circular motions, wipe away any grease stains, fingerprints, and other imperfections on your wood cabinets.

The hot water (now warm) will break down the grime making it easier to lift off. 

Once you've lifted away the stains, make sure to go over the cabinet with a dry towel or rag to remove any leftover moisture.

Drips of water that remain on the surface of finished cabinets can cause bubbles, warp the wood, or leave water spots behind. This method is safe and gentle enough that you can clean the outside of your wood cabinets like this at least once a week. 

Polishing Your Wood Cabinets

After a deep cleaning of your wood cabinet surface, polishing them up will give them an extra shine and bring out the luster of the wood.

One of the best ways to keep your wood kitchen cabinets looking like new is by using a high-quality wood polish like Orange Oil Wood Polish.

Polishes that contain drying oils like orange oil not only bring out the shine of your wooden cabinet surface, but they create a hard protective layer over the wood.

There are a variety of DIY kitchen cabinet polish solutions that you can make at home but most of these DIY solutions call for vinegar and olive oil. 

While not all wooden kitchen cabinets will be damaged if they are polished with vinegar, the olive oil portion of the solution can do more harm than good.

Unlike orange oil, linseed oil, and walnut oil, which are drying oils, olive oil is a non-drying oil. If you polish your cabinets with a non-drying oil, the oil will remain on the cabinets and while it does offer a shine, it will also attract more dust and grime to your cabinets as you utilize them over time. 

How to Clean Laminate Kitchen Cabinets

Laminate kitchen cabinets work great in a variety of kitchens not only because they are so versatile in design but also because of how easy they are to clean.

Unlike wood cabinets, you usually don't have to worry about damaging the finish on your laminate cabinets. Here's how to make your laminate cabinets shine:

Diluted Vinegar Spray

A diluted vinegar spray is the easiest way to spruce up your laminate cabinets. To make this spray, mix together one part water and one part distilled white vinegar.

Simply spray on the solution to the outside of your laminate cabinets. Let the solution sit for a minute or two before you use a soft washcloth or microfiber towel to rub it onto your cabinets.

Once you have cleaned the cabinets, go over it with a wet towel to remove any lingering vinegar. Be sure to dry off the cabinets as well so there is no lingering moisture. 

Tackle Tough Stains With Baking Soda

Whether it's caked-on ketchup or dried on Nutella from last week's breakfast, baking soda will work wonders in lifting away dried-up grime.

Make a baking soda paste using three parts baking soda and one part water. Use this paste as the cleaning agent that you rub onto your kitchen cabinet to help loosen up the dried-on gunk. 

When you are scrubbing the paste in, use a soft sponge or towel. For tougher stains, you can use a soft-bristled toothbrush. Never use a rough adhesive like steel wool as this could damage your laminate wood.

How to Clean Kitchen Cabinet Hardware

It's important to clean hinges and knobs as well, but you want to make sure that after you clean, you dry them completely.

Not drying your cabinet hinges could cause them to rust over time.

You can clean your cabinet hinges and knobs using a soapy water solution, a distilled vinegar spray, and for tougher stains, a baking soda paste. 

How to Clean Sticky Grease Off Kitchen Cabinets

If you have kitchen cabinets on top of your stove, then it's not uncommon for difficult to remove grease stains to develop on them over time as you cook.

If a mild soap and water solution is not lifting away the grease stain, then using a tougher cleaning solution like Goo Gone can be helpful.

Goo Gone adhesive remover is a gentle yet powerful oily solvent that works well on a variety of sticky stains. The best part is that Goo Gone is surface safe and can be used on both laminate and wooden cabinets. 

You can make your own Goo Gone at home if you prefer.

To make your own Goo Gone, you will need to mix together two tablespoons of vegetable oil and three tablespoons of baking soda. Put the mixture in a small container and you have an oil solvent that will help to break down tough stains. 

To use both Goo Gone or your homemade Goo Gone, simply dab a bit of the mixture onto a dry cloth and rub it onto the stain using a circular motion.

As you rub, the stain will begin to lift up. Make sure to use a damp washcloth after you have removed the stain in order to wipe away any remaining Goo Gone or DIY solution. 

How to Deep Clean Kitchen Cabinets

You should deep clean your kitchen cabinets about once every three months, especially kitchen cabinets that you routinely open.

You can deep clean your kitchen cabinets using any of the methods listed above. Because the inside of wooden kitchen cabinets usually doesn't have a polish or finish, vinegar is typically safe to use as a cleaning agent.

One of the best ways to keep your kitchen cabinets clean is by using kitchen cabinet liners.  

Liners are great because they keep the base of your kitchen cabinet from being scuffed-up or scratched by dishes and pots and pans.

A cabinet liner like the EasyLiner Select Grip is one of my favorite liners to use because it's easy to install with its non-adhesive grip, it's machine washable, and it protects the base of your kitchen cabinets.

Also, the holes in the liner allow air to constantly move around so that moisture doesn't collect inside your cabinets.


Kitchen cabinets are one of the main features that stand out in any kitchen and regularly cleaning them will keep your kitchen looking vibrant throughout its years.

The great news is that, unlike other kitchen cleaning jobs, cleaning your kitchen cabinets is a job that's simple, requires little time, and can be done without harsh chemicals.

Do you have any favorite hacks or products you love using on your kitchen cabinets? Let us know in the comments section below!




About the author

Nadia El-Yaouti is a postgraduate at James Madison University where she studied English and Education. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and three kids. When she's not exploring new and improved ways of cleaning and organizing the kitchen on a budget, you can be sure to find her traveling the world with her little family.

You may also like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}