Wood kitchen cabinets offer a warm and lustrous look to the popular gathering spot in the home. However, if they aren't cleaned regularly and with the right products, they can begin to look dull and dirty.
Cleaning wood kitchen cabinets well requires the proper products and techniques, but not a lot of time when done regularly. Natural, homemade cleaners or commercial products can return dingy wood cabinets to their former pristine and glossy condition. They also ensure that wood cabinets stay in good shape for decades.
Baking Soda to Clean Wood
While it's best to wipe up saucy stains or crusty food splotches as soon as they occur, that's not always possible. If food has found its way to the wood kitchen cabinet or drawer and firmly affixed itself to the façade, then baking soda can gently but quickly pull it up. The mild abrasive eats away at the dried organic bits and cleans the surface at the same time.
Trends Wood Finishing recommends making a thick paste of baking soda and water and leaving it on the food stain for a good 15 minutes. Be liberal when applying the paste. A thin spatula can help to lift the loosened food bits from the surface of the wood cabinet.
Vinegar to Clean Wood
Vinegar is gentle enough to be used regularly on wood kitchen cabinets and strong enough to take down layers of grease, grime and hard water deposits. Better Homes & Gardens recommends washing down the cabinets once a week with a diluted solution of one-part vinegar with one-part warm water. Always use soft cloths and wipe away excess moisture immediately.
Hard water, which is common in most city water supplies, has bits of dissolved minerals, such as limestone, magnesium and calcium. These can build up in crusty, white or gray layers on the surface of the wood kitchen cabinets around sinks, refrigerators and dishwashers. While this is harmless, it can make the wood cabinets look grungy and unappealing. Vinegar eats away at the hard water that has built up on the surface of the cabinets.
Commercial Cleaners to Clean Cabinets
If the vinegar and baking soda didn't produce the results you were hoping for, then a good commercial cleaner specially made for giving wood a thorough cleaning can be an effective yet gentle solution to your cleaning needs.
A good cleaning with a commercial product, such as Murphy's Oil Soap, will also provide a shiny, protective layer to the façade of the wood cabinets. The oil soap contains no phosphates and has a potassium vegetable base that won't damage the natural material. Rub the oil soap into the wood in small, circular motions. After going over the entire surface with the oil cleanser, buff the cabinet clean for a high shine.
Wood cabinets that appear dingy even after cleaning can benefit from a good polish. Furniture polish, such as Pledge, can bring out the luster in dull wood. Take your time and work in small sections across the surface of the wood cabinet for the best results.
Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing for a variety of clients, including The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal Home section and other national publications. As a professional writer she has researched, interviewed sources and written about home improvement, interior design and related business trends. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her full bio and clips can be viewed at www.vegaswriter.com.