Asked on Sep 7, 2012

how to get 40 yr old grease off kitchen cabinets so I can paint them

Sylvia JordanLindaKDORLIS


recently moved in my b/f's grandmothers house after she passed away it was left to him and has never been painted and has years of grease and grime on everything
23 answers
  • Marianne Radley
    on Sep 7, 2012

    I had this problem in my old house. Took to it with bleach and water, after trying Murphy's and Mr. Clean. The bleach worked well, but I still had to scrub. Try using steel wool also.

  • KMS Woodworks
    on Sep 7, 2012

    get a new green sponge / kitchen scrubbie and use a bit of dish soap...but sure to rinse well. then follow up with some TSP

  • April Allen
    on Sep 7, 2012

    thanks ya'll will try it!!

  • Tracy Kania
    on Sep 11, 2012

    Try "Purple Power". It is sold in the automotive section at Walmart.

  • Toddsharri Rye
    on Sep 15, 2012

    krud kutter at menards or sherwin williams

  • Kelly Croslin
    on Nov 13, 2012

    Mean Green. You can buy from Dollar General for $5.00 per gallon. It works well with very little elbow grease. It may lighten where it runs but you can use liquid gold furniture polish to bring the wood back thru. I have done it this way before.

  • Sharron W
    on Nov 13, 2012

    I used Vinegar and dish soap, it only takes about a drop of dish soap to a quart of vinegar....I used this on the cabinets above teh stove and it made them shine like a new dime...

  • Candy Coombes
    on Nov 23, 2012

    pure cleaner for grease ever. Trust me I worked in a very old restaurant..grease drove me insane.

  • Sharron W
    on Nov 23, 2012

    Ammonia Fumes are toxic, I wouldn't resort to using it unless the vinegar didn't work...and then I'd probably try Lysol 4-1 before I tried Ammonia...

  • Jeanette S
    on Nov 23, 2012

    There are many products that cut grease. I could never get the hard grease from underneath the vent-a-hood! I sprayed 409 on it and it melted and dripped off! But even 409 does not need to be inhaled. Using ANY chemical should be done in weather that allows you to take it outside and for that inside part, open windows and put in a fan to blow away fumes...WEAR A MASK TOO! Just be careful.

  • Heather B
    on Nov 26, 2012

    Try Pledge - yes I said Pledge - multi-surface clearner. I use it on my granite counter tops and on my cabinets and my greasy range hood. I know it sounds strange, but I am telling you it works and works well on grease!

  • KMS Woodworks
    on Nov 27, 2012

    I would avoid the use of Pledge...if you are planing to paint or refinish. Pledge contains silicones. Which are some of the worst "contaminates" when it come to refinishing...both water based and oil based products can have a very hard time getting decent finish over silicone. In the wood finishing industry silicone contaminate are the leaders to what is called "fish eyes", other oil residues are also common.

  • Sherrie
    on Nov 30, 2012

    Since your cabinets are so old I am wondering if they are sticky and greasy feeling because the lacquer has broken down by grease and oil. First try TSP. if you find this is taking the color off then stop, if it still feels sticky and greasy stop. You are just damaging the wood. Instead switch to a solvent based cleaner such as naphtha. Don't use steel wool or scotch brite it will damage the wood. This should take the sticky off. I would sand them down even after their cleaned. If you are going to paint them. Never use pledge, wood soap, or anything that says shine on wood. It builds up and dulls. KMS is right when he tells you to never use this on furniture. It leaves a mess later.

  • Melissa Gutilla
    on Dec 5, 2012

    I would just sand it off if you are planning on refinishing unless it's a hugh buildup. No need to do double work. But if it needs to come off use some baking soda and water or baking soda and vinegar. The baking soda should def. loosen it up.

  • Sherrie
    on Dec 6, 2012

    P.S. some of the new products such as pledge are neutral cleaners which is good no build up it has to be multi surface through. If anything you use says the word shine, don't use it will leave a build up. I needed to retract part of my statement.

  • Brenda C
    on Mar 24, 2013

    I've had great results with Dawn Grill Cleaner on my greasy cabinets next to stove. It comes in a trigger spray bottle. I spray just a small amount on a magic eraser sponge and scrub, then rinse with a damp, clean cloth. Takes off the shine, but it's clean.

  • Sherrie
    on Mar 28, 2013

    A lot of cabinets in older homes weren't sealed with polyurethane but with but with varnish or lacquer. With heat and years of grease build up they get gummy and sticky. I really don't think any amount of cleaning will get this off if it is this, I would strip it and start over if it is lacquer. You can feel it with your hand if you run your hand along the cabinet. Lacquer feels different then polyerthene.

  • KMS Woodworks
    on Mar 29, 2013

    I have actually seen a few cases where the layers of grime have "protected" the finish. This is usually where water issues are involved. The "greasy" residue repelled the water, and there by protected the wood below. other areas where the greasy residue was routinely cleaned away. the wood below showed minor signs of water damage...dirt is not always bad.

  • Jennifer
    on Jul 28, 2015

    Use Tri Sodium Phosphate, or TSP to remove the built up grime. Both my father and brother are painting contractors, and use TSP to prep surfaces that may have grease, polish or other residue that would keep the paint from adhering. Be sure to wear gloves as TSP can be pretty hard on the skin. Good Luck!

  • Dee Maxwell
    on Sep 2, 2015

    I would try the Dawn. At least that doesn't take the finish off. I've had good luck with using baking soda. Dampen a rag, put your baking soda in a pile, dip your rag in the pile. You're using it like comet, but without the chemicals. Works really well.

    on Sep 13, 2015

    Thank you to everyone. I am on the verge of redoing my kitchen and these ideas will come in very nicely.

  • LindaK
    on Apr 9, 2016

    TSP (Trisodiumphosphate) is a great cleaner/degreaser and takes the shine off of old paint. Painters use it to prep before repainting. Use gloves.

  • Sylvia Jordan
    on Aug 1, 2019

    Let us know which one you tried and works

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