How to Clean Kitchen Cabinets to Remove Both Easy Messes and Tough Stains

Cleaning kitchen cabinets is simple with these helpful tips. We'll walk you through general cleaning tricks, plus offer ideas for specific stains and different cabinet materials.

Cabinets are the focal point of almost every kitchen, so when they're dirty, people will notice. Everyday fingerprints, food splatters, and watermarks are usually the main culprits, but tougher stains can build up over time. Fortunately, our easy tips for how to clean kitchen cabinets can help you tackle all types of issues, including grease stains and sticky cabinets. To keep your cabinetry pristine, use our time-saving cleaning schedule that alternates between spot-cleans and deep-cleans. When it's time for cleaning, use our tips for the best way to clean kitchen cabinets tailored to individual cabinet styles. After all, what works on a painted cabinet might not work on a glass cabinet.

Before you begin, read through the steps and ensure you have all of the necessary cleaning supplies on hand. We used common household supplies, like vinegar and baking soda. You'll also want to double-check what cabinet material you're working with. The difference between wood and laminate, for example, can sometimes be tricky to spot. Consult your cabinet owner's manual or speak with a cabinet professional if you're unsure.

small bright kitchen with shiplap
John Granen

When to Clean Your Kitchen Cabinets

We recommend a two-part cabinet cleaning method that incorporates both weekly and seasonal touch-ups to save time and energy.

  • Weekly: Instead of frequently wiping down cabinets, the best way to clean kitchen cabinets is with a weekly spot treatment. Just spray a multi-purpose cleaner on a microfiber cloth, and wipe away fingerprints, spatters, and other marks. Make sure to disinfect the hardware, too.
  • Seasonally: Give your cabinets a deep clean three or four times per year. To do so, empty the cabinets of all contents. Then dab a microfiber cloth with a mild cleanser. Wipe down the shelves and the inside and outside of the door. Use a clean toothbrush to treat the corners and other small crevices. Let dry completely before restocking.
kitchen with white cabinets and blue stove
Ray Kachatorian

How to Remove Stains on Kitchen Cabinets

Your cabinets are home to various items and ingredients. They also get a lot of daily use. Here are some of the most common kitchen cabinet stains and how to remove them.

  • Fingerprints: The oily residue on fingers can leave unsightly marks on cabinet doors and hardware. Cleaning kitchen cabinets with vinegar will easily remove fingerprints. Dampen a cloth in a 50-50 solution of water and vinegar, apply to the prints, and buff clean with a polishing cloth.
  • Grease: Cabinets directly above the range are most prone to grease stains. But cleaning kitchen cabinet grease isn't tricky. Like oil-based fingerprints, you can clean greasy kitchen cabinets with diluted vinegar. Since these stains are likely larger than a fingerprint, you might need to repeat the process several times to fully get rid of grease on cabinets.
  • Food splatters: Maybe a squirt of ketchup landed in the wrong spot, or a countertop spill trickled down to the base cabinets. Whatever the scenario, wipe up food messes as soon as possible with a damp cloth before cleaning kitchen cabinets with baking soda. This is especially true if you're working with a porous material, like wood. You don't want to give the stain a chance to set in. Then, apply a paste of baking soda and water to the spot. Let sit for a few minutes, then wipe away. Polish the area with a clean cloth.
  • Water stains: If you have hard water, water stains on cabinets can be a common problem when cleaning kitchen cabinets. The best way to prevent water spots is to switch tap water for distilled water whenever you clean your cabinets.
  • Scuffs: Remove scuffs caused by shoes, tables, or chairs with a soft eraser. Gently rub the eraser along the mark, then wipe away the residue with a clean cloth. This trick is especially handy for cleaning white kitchen cabinets.
Vintage kitchen
Kimberly Gavin

How to Clean Painted Cabinets

Painted cabinets are a common feature in kitchens. They're an easy way to inject new color and warmth into a space without a total remodel. But like any other paint project, painted cabinets require some maintenance to look their best. Follow these tips to clean painted kitchen cabinets:

  1. For an easy, budget-friendly spot cleaner, just mix one part water with two parts baking soda. Dab the paste onto the stain, let sit for a few minutes, and wipe clean. Buff out any remaining residue with a clean cloth.
  2. To clean grease off kitchen cabinets, use a cloth dampened with diluted ammonia. Gently wipe the cabinet until the stain is removed or visibly less noticeable.

After several years of wear, consider repainting the cabinets once the paint starts to chip.

kitchen with Wood Cabinets
Michael Partenio

How to Clean Wood Cabinets

It can be tough to determine the best way to clean wood kitchen cabinets because they come in many different finishes with various seals. Some seals are more forgiving than others but stick with gentle cleaners on wood cabinets to be safe. Follow these tips to learn how to clean wood kitchen cabinets:

  1. Use oil soap, such as Murphy Oil Soap ($4, Target), to both clean and shine your cabinets. This non-abrasive solution will make your cabinets look new without causing any damage.
  2. Always use damp, not soaked, cloths when cleaning wood cabinets. Too much liquid saturation will hurt the wood.
  3. Use a dry microfiber cloth to buff and polish the wood. Always wipe with the grain of the wood.
  4. Monitor the cabinets in high-moisture parts of the kitchen, such as directly above the stove. These will need the most care as they're regularly exposed to steam and condensation. Consider an extra coat of sealant for these cabinets.
gray kitchen sink
Adam Albright

How to Clean Laminate Cabinets

Laminate is very forgiving. The material responds well to most cleaners and requires little maintenance beyond weekly wipe downs. Follow these tips to clean laminate cabinets:

  1. Wipe cabinets with an all-purpose cleaning wipe or diluted vinegar. Dry thoroughly with a clean cloth.
  2. As with painted cabinets, remove stains with a paste made from baking soda and water. Let the mixture set into the stain, then wipe clean.
  3. Avoid using abrasive cleaning pads, as they could scratch the cabinet's surface.
  4. For scuffs on lower cabinets, use a soft eraser to remove marks.
black and white modern kitchen
David Tsay

How to Clean Glass Cabinets

Glass cabinets are often mixed with another material, such as wood or laminate, to create a paned door. Though the glass is simple to clean, make sure you choose an agent that won't harm the adjacent cabinet material. Follow these tips to clean glass cabinets:

  1. Use glass cleaner and a polishing cloth to remove fingerprints and other marks from the glass panes.
  2. Open the cabinet door and clean from the inside, too. You'll still need to remove individual marks on the front, but this method lets you wipe down the entire pane in one full swipe.
  3. Avoid oil-based cleaners on the adjacent cabinet material. They can leave residue and streaks on the glass that are tricky to remove.
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