Home Remedies for Cleaning Wood Cabinets

Commercial cabinet cleaners and polishes are often too strong for frequent home use. They typically contain harsh chemicals that can mar wood finishes, and even harm children and pets who come in contact with them. Natural home remedies for cleaning wood cabinets are often less expensive than their commercial counterparts, thereby saving money as well as protecting the home environment.

Natural homemade cleaners work best for cleaning wood cabinets.

Basic Cabinet Cleaner

The simplest home remedy for cleaning wood cabinets is to add 2 tablespoons of powdered laundry detergent to 1 gallon warm (not hot) water. Mix well, and clean the cabinets with a soft cloth dampened in the solution. If stubborn spots won't come off, scrub with baking soda. Rinse thoroughly.

Cabinet Polish

Sweet oil, an odorless olive oil derivative that can be found in most pharmacies, makes a safe, natural alternative to cabinet cleaning chemicals when mixed with vinegar. Measure 1 part sweet oil and 3 parts vinegar into a clean, empty spray bottle. Apply lightly to finished, non-lacquered cabinets. Wipe with a soft, clean cloth. If needed, use a soft-bristled toothbrush to remove hard-to-clean spots.

Wood Cleaning Paste

For tough cleaning jobs, combine 1 part mineral oil or linseed oil to 1 1/2 parts pumice and 1 1/2 parts rottenstone (a soft limestone powder available in woodworking stores). Gently apply to the cabinet and wipe clean with a soft cloth. The combination of mild abrasive with softening oils gives cabinets a glossy shine while preventing the wood from drying out. Try this in an inconspicuous spot first since it can damage some finishes.

Painted Cabinet Cleaner

Remove dust with a small brush or soft cleaning rag. Add 2 tablespoons ammonia to 1 gallon warm water. Test the solution in an inconspicuous spot before use, since some paints may fade. Clean gently with a soft cloth dampened in the solution to avoid marring paint. Rinse well.


Lemon oil is a natural home remedy that cuts grease and removes strong odors from finished wood cabinets. Measure 1 teaspoon lemon oil and 1 cup warm water into a clean, empty spray bottle. Shake well to mix. Apply lightly to cabinets. Wipe with a soft, clean cloth.