How do you clean really dirty kitchen cabinets?

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Moved into this home, and I don't think they ever cleaned the kitchen grease on the cabinets There is also a build up of grime from hands around the handles and knobs. The cabinets are a cherry-wood. I would love to paint them a black or dark gray. Thank you for any ideas.

  10 answers
  • Betsy Betsy on Feb 14, 2019

    Hi Avis: Yick! :P Give this a try: Dampen a clean, dry cloth with undiluted white vinegar, and wipe down greasy cabinets. Rinse your cloth with warm water, wring out most of the moisture, and use it to rinse the cabinetry. Dry the damp surfaces with a paper towel, but note any still-sticky spots that need a do-over.


    If they are really grimy, depending on just how much grease and grime you’re looking at and the supplies you have available, there are several options for your consideration. At least one of these will help to get the job done—plus one final suggestion for how to keep your clean cabinets looking gorgeous!


    BLUE DAWN. Apply a few drops of concentrated dish liquid like blue Dawn, into a bowl of warm water. Dip the soft side of a sponge in it. Squeeze the sponge until suds form. The cleaning agents in Dawn absorb grease just as well on kitchen surfaces as they do on dishes. Apply to the dirty cabinet, wiping the grease with the soft sponge until it is removed. Immediately dry the surfaces with a clean cloth to prevent streaking. This will prevent streaking.


    KITCHEN GUNK REMOVER. Bust through hardened, dingy layers of old, sticky, dust-grabbing grease with vegetable oil and baking soda. Mix one-part any vegetable oil to two-parts baking soda. Apply this oily paste to dirty areas using a soft cloth or paper towel. That ugly, greasy, dirty build-up on cabinets will begin to soften and start to disappear. Wipe clean and buff with a soft cloth.


    WHITE VINEGAR has grease-busting, cleaning ability. Dampen a clean, dry cloth with undiluted white vinegar, and wipe down greasy cabinets. Rinse your cloth with warm water, wring out most of the moisture, and use it to rinse the cabinetry. Dry the damp surfaces with a paper towel, but note any still-sticky spots that need a second attempt.


    SOAP AND PAINT THINNER. This is a heavy-duty, industrial strength solution. Use it on the toughest, most stubborn grease and grime, knowing that it could remove a layer of the finish. Mix equal parts of paint thinner and a mild soap, such as Murphy Oil Soap. Apply with a sponge or paintbrush. Wipe the solution away with a rag to clear the dirt; you’ll likely remove a thin layer of varnish or shellac, because the grime may have melded with it.


    WOOD POLISH AND CONDITIONER. After a rigorous cleaning, wood cabinets are thirsty for moisture and protection. But you want to be careful that you don’t make matters worse by using something that will create a new kind of build-up that becomes a magnet to kitchen grease and grime. Use something like Howard’s Feed-n-Wax Wood Polish and Conditioner. It contains beeswax, carnauba wax and orange oil to keep the wood from drying out, while at the same time repelling kitchen grease.


    Good luck

  • Dawn dish soap. A vinegar water solution. If those don't work, before painting, use TSP, that will take care of any grimy gunk that might be on there.

  • Kelli L. Milligan Kelli L. Milligan on Feb 15, 2019

    Use TSP

  • Cynthia H Cynthia H on Feb 15, 2019

    I would start with a bucket of soapy water using Dawn dish detergent. Use a magic eraser sponge to deep clean them and microfiber cloth to wipe them down. There is a product called Krud Kutter that will take all the crap off. I would clean them well before deciding if I was going to paint them - you may find they are much nicer once cleaned (and much lighter).

  • Homeroad Homeroad on Feb 15, 2019

    There are TSP and natural TSP products that clean cabinet grease very well. You will need to remove all of the grease before you paint the cabinets. This is the one I use https://amzn.to/2TRuMf5

  • Gypsy Gypsy on Feb 15, 2019

    Personally I live orange spray from the dollar stores it works great on all kinds of things & takes a lot of the "scrubbing" away. Spray the cabinet with the orange spray (btw it comes in a spray bottle & has a gallon refill.... Both for a dollar !!!) .....

    Let it sit for 5 mins or so then it is usually pretty easy to wipe off. Repeat if you find stubborn spots. It is biodegradable, doesn't smell bad & works GREAT! I use it for all kinds of things...... Washing walls & doors , cleaning gray stove, removing gooey stuff from old stickers etc. I've even used to to spot laundry (but check on unseen area as it sometimes lightens the area on some articles). Good luck.

  • Annie Annie on Feb 15, 2019

    I had same issue. Used TSP which was very effective. It did strip off the finish which didn’t matter because I then sanded them down to the bare wood and refinished them. It’s a big, labor intensive job. Depending on your pocketbook, you may want to price replacing the door and drawer fronts and just paint the boxes. Good luck!

  • Janice Janice on Feb 15, 2019

    I use 1 cup ammonia, 1/2 cup vinegar and 1/4 cup baking soda in 1 gallon of warm water. Wipe down with a rag. Removes grease, grime, fingerprints, scuff marks and there is no need to rinse. Leaves a nice shine.

  • Barbara Kuhn Barbara Kuhn on Feb 15, 2019

    Dawn dish liquid and 1/4 Cup Vinegar, continue to change the water 😊

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Feb 04, 2021

    Hello

    Try something like "FLASH" of other Grease Cutting substance, like /W/Up liquid and hot water.

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