I Deep Cleaned My Kitchen Cabinets and Was Shocked By the Grime That I Found
As trendy as colored cabinets may be, they just might be too good at hiding grime.
I’m the kind of person who can’t go to bed with a sink full of dishes. No matter how much effort it takes, I typically manage to pull myself away from the table and tackle it all–dishes, stovetop, countertop, and pans. There’s something soothing about everything being in its place before bed that recharges my batteries and gets me ready to do it all again the next day. It’s because of that inherit sense of kitchen cleanliness that I’m writing this anonymously. I'm in complete disbelief of the dirt my neglected kitchen cabinets have been harboring.
It started with a simple realization: The way my cabinets were organized wasn’t working for us anymore. The maze of applicates blocking our slow cooker was a weekly struggle, and don’t get me started on how many water bottles one family could possibly use. I knew I could reorganize my small kitchen to make it much more efficient. What I didn’t know was that this would lead to a much more pressing task: scrubbing my cabinets from head to toe. As trendy as my navy-blue cabinets are, they just might be too good at hiding spills.
Whether your cabinets are wood, laminate, painted, or custom, I’m willing to bet yours could use a scrub too. Here’s what you need to know to deep clean your kitchen cabinets this weekend.
How Often Should You Clean Kitchen Cabinets?
If you’re in the kitchen as much as me, daily cooking is coating your cabinets with a layer of grease and grime whether you like it or not. To keep things clean, try to wipe the outside of your cabinets once a week. Deep clean the outside and inside every few months.
What You’ll Need:
- Microfiber cloth or soft, clean rags
- Warm water
- Dish soap
- Baking soda
- Multi-purpose Cleaner
- Kitchen gloves
- Handheld vacuum cleaner (optional)
- Soft cleaning eraser (optional)
- Oil cleaner (for wood cabinets only)
How I Cleaned My Painted Kitchen Cabinets
Since my cabinets are painted, let’s start here. For my own cabinets, I used this article on Better Homes and Gardens as a jumping off point and tailored the process to fit my space as I went along.
- Clear the Way: It’ll seem daunting, but just do it. For deep cleaning, it’s best to start with empty shelves. Clear your dishes, cups, and appliances. I should have timed this with a full dishwasher to make it a little bit easier. Maybe you can learn from my mistake.
- Pick the Right Cloth: Painted cabinets are sensitive, so it’s best to avoid abrasive cleaning tools. A soft cloth or clean rag will do the trick. I used a microfiber cloth.
- Clean the Exterior: With all of the sprays stashed under my sink, I was tempted to grab my typical multi-purpose bottle. But leaning on my research, I mixed warm water with a bit of dish soap to create a nice bubble bath for the painted exterior of my cabinets. I wiped the outside of each, starting from the top and working my way down. I tried not to get anything too wet since a damp cloth works best on paint and dried before moving on. If you want to try an all-purpose cleaner, just test it on an inconspicuous spot before making a wipe you may regret.
- Spot Clean Grease: After a full round on my cabinets, I was still left with a few grease stains (thank you, spaghetti night). To remove, I mixed two parts baking soda with one part warm water and rubbed the paste onto the remaining stains. I let it sit before wiping away with a damp cloth and patting dry.
- Vacuum the Inside: It’s amazing where crumbs can end up. A handheld vacuum was a quick solution for stray crumbs.
- Wipe Down Shelves: After testing a multi-purpose cleanser on an out-of-site spot, I wiped down each empty shelf, working cabinet by cabinet. Be sure to wipe dry before moving on.
- Scrub the Nooks and Crannies: This is the step where I could really feel myself turning into my mother. Using an old toothbrush, I gently scrubbed the corners and crevasses inside each cabinet.
- Give It a Final Dry and Replenish Shelves: Before putting all of my dishes away (hello much-needed opportunity to reorganize my shelves!), I wiped down everything to make sure all surfaces were dry.
Tips for Wooden and Laminate Cabinets
While a few things vary by cabinet type, the majority of my process translates to wooden or laminate cabinets as well. Here are a few things to keep in mind for other types of cabinets.
- Wood Cabinets: Like painted cabinets, wooden cabinets need gentle cleaners. Use oil soap to clean and polish your cabinets with a microfiber cloth. Use damp cloths and wipe with the grain. Dilute oil soap with warm water and use a toothbrush to spot treat stains.
- Laminate Cabinets: All-purpose cleaners work just fine on this hardier surface. Mix baking soda and warm water for spot cleaning, similar to painted cabinets. You can also use a soft cleaning eraser to wipe away any scuff marks on laminate cabinets.
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Now that my cabinets are clean, maybe I’ll tackle my washing machine next. Based on the level of grime on the top of my upper cabinets, there's sure to be a treasure trove of dirt in my drawers too.