How to Clean Wood Kitchen Cabinets?

It sounds simple enough, right? There’s no rocket science involved in cleaning your cabinets every once in a while, just gather some basic cleaning supplies and begin with the rubbing process. That’s pretty much it, to be honest, but there’s a reason why you’ve googled this. You recognize how much of a focal point the appearance of your cabinets is when it comes to gauging your kitchen-keeping capabilities. Someone walks in there, what’s the first thing they glance at? That’s right, your beautiful wooden cabinets, and they’ll surely notice if they’re dirty.

The main villains in this story are smudges, splatters of food, liquid spillage, and copious amounts of grease that always lingers in the kitchen. No worries though, we’re here to help you deal with them all in an effective and efficient manner, one super-villain at a time.

Kitchen Cabinets

Cleaning Different Types of Cabinet Stains

1.   Hard-Water Stains

If you’re unlucky enough to have hard water running through your tap, the stains it leaves on cabinets must be the fuel of your nightmares by now. The high mineral content of hard water causes your cabinets to have stains on it when water residue on them dries off, leaving chalk and gypsum smudges behind. Obviously, you can’t use the same water to clean off these marks.

Use distilled water, or a bit of your drinking water to dampen a clean cloth and wipe your cabinets – the marks come off quite easily. Use water sparingly when you’re cleaning though, as moisture can hurt wooden cabinets!

2.   Grease Residue

Most of your cabinets might not have this problem, because the only ones most prone to these stains are situated right above your cooking range. Cooking over three times a day, vaporizing those cabinets with your lunch and dinner flavors can easily cause grease residue build-up. But it shouldn’t be that much of a problem if you clean them regularly. Just spray some diluted vinegar on them and rub them well with a piece of cloth. Repeat the process until you can’t feel the oily layer on top of them.

3.   Fingerprints

This is the easier version of the task above because it also involves oily residue, except this time it’s from our fingertips. It’s rare to see kitchen gloves being used these days, which would prevent this problem altogether. Luckily though, all it takes is a light one-time rub with diluted vinegar to get rid of these prints. Once you’re done, buff the cabinets clean with a polishing cloth to get a shinier finish.

4.   Scuffs

When shoes, tables or chairs come in contact with a cabinet, they commonly leave scuff marks. These can be cleaned off with a soft rubber eraser as if you’re correcting a pencil mistake. Once you’re done erasing the scuffs, clean it off with a wet cloth. This tip will be especially useful if you’ve got a white set of cabinets.

5.   Food Splatters

Usually found on the base cabinets, there are caused by a poorly aimed ketchup squeeze, spilled mayo, or miss-pouring runny sauces. Regardless of the cause, you must prioritize removing these stains immediately. Because wood is a porous material, and you shouldn’t give the stain any time to set in. Wipe it out with a damp cloth as soon as you notice it, and make sure you get all of the residues off. Then apply a paste of baking soda and water to the area for a few minutes, then wipe it away. Finally, rub it with a clean polishing cloth and it’ll be good as new.

Clean Kitchen

Specific Tips about Cleaning “Wood” Cabinets

Determining the best way to clean wooden cabinets can be trickier because they come in all sorts of distinctive finishes and seals. Stains can be more forgiving on some seals than others, but it’s advisable to work with gentle cleaners on wood. Here are a few tips before we wish you good luck:

  • Use oil soap! Cleaning and shining wooden cabinets with this calmer, non-abrasive mixture will make your cabinets spotless, all while ensuring no damage is caused to them.
  • Over-exposure to moisture can cause the wood to swell over time, which hurts its durability. That’s why, as we’ve advised above, use a ‘damp’ (and not ‘soaked’) piece of cloth to clean your wood cabinets.
  • For a couple of stains mentioned above, the last step involves buffing the wood with a dry cloth. Always use a microfiber cloth though, to make sure you don’t damage the build while you’re at it.
  • As we’ve already established, high-moisture for a prolonged period of time is a no-no for your cabinets to be well-maintained. Monitor the cabinets closely in the dangerous areas, such as the ones situated above your stove. They’ll be exposed to condensation and steam regularly, so it’s best to invest in an extra sealant coat for them.


We’ve now reached the end of this concise little guide to help you in battling the five common cabinet stains. Remember though, it’s always best to prevent the stain than to clean it. While it’s inevitable to find them lingering on your cabinets every once in a while, it’s best to use measures to minimize them. Use kitchen gloves, and be careful not to scuff the cabinets with your shoes! But even if you do, you’re now equipped with the knowledge to handle the situation like a true pro. All the best in your cabinet cleaning endeavors, ciao!

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