It’s probably no coincidence that some of the happiest places in your home are also some of the messiest. We’re talking about the kitchen, of course, where “cooking with love” is code for spills, crumbs and sticky fingers galore. Check out our tips for protecting your cabinets from too much of a good thing.
Consider cabinet care when you buy. Cleaning may be the last thing on your mind when you’re dazzled by a selection of shiny new cabinets, but it’s important to consider how easily you’ll be able to care for them and how they will wear over time. “Try not to skimp on quality features and functionality, like solid, furniture-grade hardwoods, good joinery and full extension drawers,” said Beverly Ferguson of ShelfGenie in Richmond. “Solid wood cabinets will outlast cabinets constructed of particle board or medium-density fiberboard wrapped in veneers or laminate. Those are low-cost options with less long-term value.”
Be smart about liners. For their grime-minimizing and dish-protecting superpowers, drawer and shelf liners made of everything from rubber to felt to cork are staples in most kitchen cabinets. Be careful when choosing your liners though. Traditional adhesive plastic liners can be difficult to remove and clean, and according to Ferguson, “Pullouts or drawers can actually be constructed with scratch-resistant bottoms so that liners are unnecessary.” Who knew? If you already have plastic liners, there are several solvents that will dissolve the adhesive, such as rubber-cement remover, acetone and turpentine. Use a natural-bristle paintbrush to gently dab solvent beneath the liner while pulling the edge until the liner comes off and then sand the remaining adhesive.
Wipe once a week. Regular dirt, grease and oil buildup can be removed with a clean cloth and a simple solution of mild dish soap and water. Wipe the damp cloth over grimy cabinet exteriors, hardware and interiors about once a week. Be sure to dry thoroughly.
Deep clean four times a year. The beginning of a new season is a fantastic time to give your cabinets a little more attention. Start by wiping cabinets the same way you would during a regular cleaning and avoid harsh detergents, strong soap, abrasive cleaners or self-polishing waxes. For any stubborn stains, you can use an undiluted all-purpose cleaner, but be sure to check labels before testing any product on your cabinets. During a deep clean, hardware can be unscrewed and soaked in warm, soapy water for 30 minutes to restore it to its original shine. If you have glass-front cabinets, now is a good time to break out the glass cleaner (or a 1:1 white vinegar and water solution, if you prefer).
A little cabinet TLC can go a long way in preserving the life of your kitchen, so don’t place it on the back burner. “Long-lasting cabinets are an investment in your home,” Ferguson said. “Because grease buildup and stains take a toll over time, the key to long-lasting cabinets is a solid selection and thorough, gentle care.”