I love it when people ask me how to clean kitchen cabinets. You know why if you experience an autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) from watching satisfying cleaning videos. I’ve seen thick layers of grease and grime in kitchens that could be scraped off with a putty knife. It’s simultaneously gross and amazing!
I recommend that people plan to clean their kitchen cabinets at least every few months. If you’re moving into a new house, and therefore a new kitchen, I really recommend you do some deep cleaning before or shortly after moving in. This will save you some energy later down the road when you're trying to clean off the old grime plus the new grime that has become one with your kitchen counters, the interior of your kitchen cabinets, and the exterior of your kitchen cabinets.
Depending on the years of use on your kitchen cabinets, you’ll probably see a noticeable difference after a deep cleaning. At the very least, your cabinets will not be covered in a sticky residue, and your kitchen will smell nicer.
It’s critical that you avoid harsh chemicals and abrasive cleaning tools. There are many different finishes used on kitchen cabinets, most of which can be scratched and ruined if you clean with the wrong cleaning agents and tools. I’m looking at you, steel wool!
My instructions in this step-by-step guide are gentle on wood cabinets, laminate cabinets, and other cabinet finishes while still removing all sorts of grease. Also, you won’t need a fancy commercial cleaner or doodad to get the job done. With my expertise and your elbow grease, your kitchen will be sparkling in no time!
Let’s clean that up!
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What You’ll Need
Bowl of Warm Water
Plastic Putty Knife (depending on grease accumulation)
Don't feel like reading? Watch the video instead.
1. Scrub the surface.
I like to start by scrubbing the outside cabinet surfaces with warm water and Dawn dish soap. Combine a teaspoon of dish soap with two cups of water.
You might be tempted to throw an excessive amount of soapy water at your kitchen surfaces. Don’t! Save yourself the drying hassle by ringing out your sponge between dunks and not throwing your bowl of water at the cabinet (no matter how frustrating it gets).
As far as my products of choice go, I use Dawn dish soap a lot for cleaning because it’s a gentle cleaning solution on all surfaces, safe around kids and pets (but not intended for regular bathing), and cuts through grease and grime. I love this product so much I included it in my budget-friendly cleaning kit video to help people assemble a great kit for under $25.
Scrub Daddy sponges are usually my sponge of choice because they are tough but scratch-free. You can imagine why that would be useful for this project. An old toothbrush or soft-bristled brush would probably work for this too. Just be sure to completely rinse these brushes of previous solutions to make sure solutions like bleach don’t get on your wood kitchen cabinets.
2. Adjust your strategy.
If the gunk and grease stains are putting up a fight, fight back with Dawn Powerwash.
This is a more concentrated version of regular Dawn dish soap. The applications for both of these products are practically endless so I don’t hesitate in advising people to have both on hand.
If you are still finding stuck-on grease and food stains after scrubbing with Dawn and Dawn Powerwash, you’ve found yourself a worthy opponent. Up your game with Dawn Professional Degreaser, also known as Manual Pot & Pan Detergent.
I will admit the argument on which is better, Dawn or Dawn Professional, has generated some controversy on the internet. In my personal and professional experience, I have found Dawn Professional to be the strongest, most concentrated cleaning solution out of the three Dawn products in mention. If your own experiences lead you to disagree, please share in the comment section. I love swapping cleaning stories and it’s my goal to forever hone my craft!
3. Wipe with a damp microfiber towel.
The fibers on microfiber towels are extremely thin and close together. That’s what makes them more absorbent and effective than most materials. By using a clean, damp cloth after scrubbing your cabinets, you can pick up any loosened dirt and leftover cleaning solution.
I am a big fan of microfiber products. I use them whenever possible for my clients because it cuts down on dry time and ensures a cleaner surface. When you’re ready to upgrade your cleaning supplies, check out my Ultimate Microfiber Cleaning Kit. You may want to start dropping hints to a loved one that you’d appreciate this as a gift. Wink wink!
4. Repeat the process on the inside of the cabinets.
If you get to this point, and you’re feeling a little worn out, don’t give up! Focus on the prospect of clean cabinets!
I’m always amazed by how much stuff builds up on the inside of cabinets when clean dishes are the only things going into them. The food pantry is a different story, of course. If necessary, start by brushing out or vacuuming crumbs. After, repeat steps one through three.
If after reading this, you are still nervous about damaging your cabinets, apply the solution and method to an inconspicuous spot. Your cabinet’s finish should look as good as new after.
Once you have clean cabinets and cabinet doors, step back to admire your work. Truth be told, if you don’t immediately notice a difference, it could be because your kitchen wasn’t terribly dirty to begin with. But I imagine that in the upcoming days you’ll realize that the surfaces look nicer and the space smells fresher than it did before.
Bonus Tip: don’t forget to clean the sticky grease off your cabinet hardware and the top of your fridge. I’ve often found that clean cabinet hardware is a different color than its dirty alter-ego. And cleaning the top of the fridge will save you from accidentally touching it next time you need to get to the cupboard above or near it. I promise that extra attention will make a difference.
I hope you find this process immensely helpful for your kitchen cabinet cleaning adventure! Please leave a comment about how your cleaning goes. And be sure to follow me on your favorite platforms for more cleaning tips and tricks: TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Pinterest.
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