How to Clean Sticky ClosetMaid Wire Shelving

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They are sturdy, stable and a sleek solution for your storage and organizational needs, but sometimes they get sticky. ClosetMaid wire shelving can be a beautiful thing, but the very things they help you to organize can gunk up their surfaces, such as oils, lint, seasonings and baking goods. Luckily, the ClosetMaid open-grid, plastic-coated wire shelving used in many kitchen pantries and closets is easy to clean.


How to Clean Sticky ClosetMaid Wire Shelving
Image Credit: Grigorev_Vladimir/iStock/GettyImages

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What Causes the Stickiness?

In the kitchen, the plastic coating on wire shelves attracts cooking oils from the air as well as fine dust particles from dish cloths. Little sticky fingers finding treats in the pantry can leave behind traces of peanut butter, jelly and cookie crumbs that nestle in the joints of your wire shelving. A tacky texture on closet shelving can also be caused by long-term exposure to high humidity.


Get Your Clean On

There are a few ways to go about bringing your wire shelving back to its original pristine form.

First, you'll want to give the shelving a good brush with the hose attachment of a vacuum cleaner to pick up any dry spills and dust. If the debris field isn't too deep, a pass with a handheld broom can also do the trick. Next you'll want to pull out your best cleaning supplies and pair it with some good old-fashioned elbow grease. Over-the-counter cleaners, such as Pine-Sol and Lysol wipes, work well. A good bottle of Goof Off or Goo Gone can work wonders on stubborn greasy build up as well.


You can also go the homemade route with proven cleaning concoctions. Rubbing alcohol is inexpensive and gets quick results for serious stains. It acts as an instant grease cutter and disinfectant, although the aroma can be overwhelming in enclosed spaces. Mix one part of rubbing alcohol with two parts water for a guaranteed grime buster. A few drops of liquid dish soap can also be added, which helps with the scent and gives a bit of a cleaning boost.

Some may prefer a popular homemade all-purpose cleaner using vinegar. Combine one cup of white distilled vinegar with one cup of distilled water, ½ of a lemon juiced and a few drops of essential oil (such as lavender, peppermint or orange). Mix all of the ingredients in a spray bottle and keep it in a cool, dark place for up to one week.


And don't be nervous about soaking the storage unit. Although you can test with a cotton swab before dousing the shelving, ClosetMaid shelving is built to handle these types of cleaners.

Make sure you get into the nooks and crannies of the wire rack system. A toothbrush or cotton swab is ideal for hard-to-reach spots. A skinny wooden skewer is also great at getting stubborn muck out of tiny joints.

Finish With Flair

Once you've successfully removed all the grime, let the shelving dry for at least 15 minutes before you return the sundries to their sparkling new home. For a truly clean closet, grab your homemade all-purpose cleaner or a mild product to wipe down the items you are putting back on the shelves. More than likely they have some build up from hanging out on the formerly filthy shelves.



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