How to Clean Old Kitchen Cabinets


Kitchen cabinets accumulate a buildup of dirt and grease from hands quickly, but you can clean this off with a commercial or natural cleaner. You will need stronger products, however, if old cabinets have stubborn stains.

Things You'll Need

  • Laundry detergent
  • House cleaner
  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Mineral spirits
  • Paint thinner
  • Water
  • Sponge
  • Select a cleaning solution. You can clean most cabinet types with a dishwashing liquid or you can purchase a house-cleaning solution. If the cabinets are made of wood, it is best to select a cleaner made for wood items, such as Murphy oil soap or Scott's liquid gold. If you wish to avoid commercial cleaners, you can clean the cabinet with a mixture of one part vinegar and one part water.

  • Remove the contents of the cabinet and strip the shelf lining if it is old. Vacuum or brush off any crumbs, dust and cobwebs.

  • Remove the cabinet handles. The handles and surrounding areas are where most of the dirt and grime accumulate. Wipe any stains off the handles with a sponge and the cleaner you have selected. In "Household Hints for Dummies," Janet Sobesky recommends cleaning narrow areas around the handles with a cotton swab or a toothbrush dipped in the cleaning solution.

  • Wipe the cabinet doors and shelves with the sponge and cleaner. The old cabinet may have some stubborn stains, especially on the doors. If so, try cleaning them off with a strong product like mineral spirits, or try scrubbing with a paste of water and baking soda. If the stains persist on a wood cabinet, apply a small amount of paint thinner. Follow the manufacturer's directions for best results and ensure that there are no open flames close by. Rinse the sponge in clean water and wipe the residue from the products off the shelves and doors.

  • Wait for the shelves to dry. Line them with a paper that is washable. In the future, this can be wiped clean or discarded and replaced. Replace the handles.

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  • "Household Hints for Dummies"; Janet Sobesky; Hungry Minds; 1999
  • Photo Credit kitchen image by Pavel Losevsky from
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