What is the best way to stain my kitchen cabinets?

I have builder grade cabinets in the light oak coloring. Very outdated really. I've seen pictures of gel stained cabinets but I'm not sure the best way to proceed. Do I have to sand them?? (there is the standard detailing in the cabinet doors) I've read that you don't have to sand them, just clean them. What is the best way to do that? And then how do I apply the stain so it doesn't look like I did the job.

Any advice or words of experience appreciated. Thank you.

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