How do I clean 60+ year old cabinets?

by Tracey
I need help!!! I moved into my parents 60+ year old house. The kitchen cabinets to my knowledge have the original “varnish“ finish plus 60+ years of greasy kitchen buildup. I am wanting to clean them and depending on how they look I may even decide to paint or white wash them. BTW, the walls are the dated knotty pine paneling. Please help.
  18 answers
  • Lizabeth Garrett Lizabeth Garrett on May 18, 2018

    I think I would get some goo-gone and clean it first and then get some varnish remover.

  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on May 18, 2018

    Make a solution with white vinegar and water 50/50 and add a dab of blue dawn dish soap in a spray bottle

  • Adina Fulsom Adina Fulsom on May 18, 2018

    Best thing I've ever used for greasy kitchen clean up is Lysol All Purpose cleaner. It comes in a spray bottle, kills 99.9% bacteria and smells so fresh! Cuts grease like crazy. Sounds like you're gonna need to do some work! Good luck😊

  • Lan32154549 Lan32154549 on May 18, 2018

    Many antique stores sell a remover that will take all that off. ask them about it per phone if you like. It really works.

  • John Biermacher John Biermacher on May 19, 2018

    I would try Howard's Restore-a-finish (in a light color) using #0000 steel wool. Good chance that will not only clean them but might be all you need. Search Hometalk and you tube.

  • Manning Tillman Manning Tillman on May 19, 2018

    Warm water, TSP cleaner add elbow grease.

  • Audrey Trauner Audrey Trauner on May 19, 2018

    Murphy's soap--fantastic product.

    • See 1 previous
    • Tracey Tracey on May 23, 2018

      Magic eraser doesn’t work. 😟

  • Fiddledd224 Fiddledd224 on May 19, 2018

    The best way to loosen grease is with oil!

    Pour some vegetable oil on a t-shirt and buff the wood - the oil should loosen the grease.

    After this, follow up with a wipe down with Windex to remove the oil.

  • Danielle Danielle on May 19, 2018

    I have sworn by Murphy's Oil Soap for 30 years. There is a reason it's still on the market! I've even seen it clean off decades of tar and nicotine in a heavy smokers house and take the smell out too!

  • Elaine Elaine on May 19, 2018

    Murphy’s has a wax in it and I’ve used it for decades. Howard’s is fantastic stuff, but they make a cleaner you could use before the restore a finish. You might want to try warm water and vinegar with a pot scrubby that doesn’t scratch. It will be a lot of work. If you use anything with wax in it and then decide to paint, you will end up removing that to be able to paint.

  • Dawn Fulton Dawn Fulton on May 19, 2018

    I clean apartments, my recommendation is Krud Kleaner from Lowe's. Cuts grease like you wouldn't believe, very little elbow grease required and unlike tsp does not have to be rinsed off.

  • Hope Williams Hope Williams on May 19, 2018

    I agree with dawn, krud kutter. And use steel wool and take outside to clean.

    i wanted to add that those cabinets are the bomb! So much potential!!! I had them and put molding on them and painted mine.

    • See 2 previous
    • Hope Williams Hope Williams on Jul 11, 2018

      Further, with having knotty pine walls, I would sand the cabinets to natural and seal them and paint the walls white. Isn’t this gorgeous!

      comment photo
  • MiMiVanV MiMiVanV on May 19, 2018

    Replace them 😖

    • Tracey Tracey on Jul 11, 2018

      My grand daddy built them that is why I want to make sure I don’t harm them in the process of cleaning them!!

  • Emily Emily on Jul 11, 2018

    If you are going to refinish or paint cabinets anyway, why not start with paint remover itself?

  • Liv Liv on Jul 11, 2018

  • Theresa Theresa on Oct 17, 2020

    I know this post is a few years old, but I was wondering how this project turned out? These are the exact same style cabinets that are in my parents home and looking for ideas without a total tear out.

  • Sharon Sharon on Oct 19, 2020

    I use Dollar Tree Awesome Orange in the half gallon in hot water using a car sponge. Then I also get the Awesome Degreaser for the hard spots and a round plastic scrubby to get off blobs. I get the kitchen rubber gloves as can be a bit hard on the hands for a whole kitchen.

  • Chas' Crazy Creations Chas' Crazy Creations on Aug 01, 2022

    I have several cleaning tutorials that might help you