Cleaning Wood Kitchen Cabinets
Cleaning wood kitchen cabinets is not as difficult as some lead you to
believe, it just takes some time and a little elbow
grease. You rarely need "special" cleaners or "secret"
solutions for the task. It also rarely depends on the type of finish that
is on your cabinets.
Cleaning wood kitchen cabinets becomes difficult when your finish is actually
cracked and damaged to the point water can easily seep through the finish.
If your finish is bad, you're looking at refinishing,
not just cleaning.
Light, oxidation (simply being exposed to oxygen), and physical use and abuse
damage wood finishes. You can't do anything about oxidation, and very
little about light (except for keeping lights off and not having many windows,
but who wants that?), but you can limit the abuse and
clean your cabinets when they get dirty. This helps keep your finish in
Common finishes found on kitchen cabinets include:
- Conversion Finishes: Catalyzed lacquer,
pre-catalyzed lacquer, conversion varnish, epoxy finish, moisture-curing
polyurethane, two-part polyurethane, polyester finish, and ultraviolet-curing
- Lacquer or Moisture Resistant Lacquer
Today, most often your cabinet finishes will be a conversion finish or
Conversion finishes are what the cabinet industry uses, both factory built and
custom built. They are fast drying, durable, very moisture resistant, and
somewhat heat resistant (although candles close to the
cabinets - within even 18 inches for prolonged periods of time - have been known
to scorch the finish). They have been around since the 1930's. When
it comes to cleaning wood kitchen cabinets, these are easy to keep clean.
If you'd like more information about kitchen cabinet finishes, just
click here to link to the Cabinet Finishes page from this,
our Cleaning Wood Kitchen Cabinets page.
Cleaning Wood Kitchen Cabinets
Actually, you can clean all of the above finishes that may be on wood kitchen
cabinets by just using a soft cloth, and mild soap and
water. Gently wash your cabinets, being sure not to leave any water
standing on any wood surface.
It's that simple. If your cabinets are getting a bit "dull" looking to
you, you can put a lemon oil on them if you wish, however, keep in mind that if
you do put a lemon oil on the finish and your cabinets ever need to be
refinished, that might cause a problem in the refinishing because oil will be on
the surface of the wood (and cause "fish-eye" as you try to put new finish on).
Other things to keep in mind
- Lacquer and conversion finishes dry fast, but
they don't cure for almost six months. Never put lemon oil on your
finish before its six months old. Cleaning wood kitchen cabinets at this stage means to only wipe down with soap and water.
- It's a good idea to clean your cabinets with a
good furniture polish in between times you actually wash with soap and water.
Too much water can, over time, damage your finish, especially if it's not
wiped up quickly.
- Use a mild soap, like Dawn dishwashing liquid (it
cuts grease well) or Ivory or a similar dish soap.
- Murphy's Oil Soap is also a good cleaner for your
kitchen cabinets. It is gentle enough to use on wood. It is made
with oil and lye, which, when mixed, result in a chemical reaction to make the
soap. No oil or lye is left in the finished product, so you don't have
to worry about getting any oil on your cabinet finish (making any future
True "oil" finishes, such as linseed oil, tung oil,
or walnut oil, are rarely found on kitchen cabinets.
You keep these types of finishes looking nice by reapplying the oil (actually
you can use any oil, it does not necessarily have to be the same oil that was
These types of cabinets may be found in antique furniture, or made by someone
who was trying to get back to an "original" way of manufacturing furniture or
In today's cabinets, the only piece of wood that
will have an actual oil finish is the bread board. Make sure you wash your
bread board as needed, let it dry thoroughly, then reapply a
non-toxic vegetable oil to
the surface. You need to let the oil soak in, and may need to reapply and
rub it in 2 or 3 times.
OTHER RELATED SITES:
Kitchen Cabinet Finishes - Information about
cabinet finishes with links to further finish sites.
Cleaning Kitchen Cabinets -
Before you clean, some common sense observations.
Cleaning Cultured Marble -
With a little care, cultured marble can look great for years.