Kitchen Cabinets

How to properly care for them

Taking proper care of your kitchen cabinets can be a daunting task. Even in the most lightly used of kitchens, cabinets show the effects of grease, liquid spills, food residue, and much more. To keep your life simple, read on and discover some good practices that you can implement in your own home, to keep your kitchen cabinets looking as new as the day they were installed.

By Mark Tate • August 15th 2017

Before we jump into cleaning, lets look at maintaining the inside of your kitchen cabinets. Adding lining to your shelves and drawers can minimize dirt and grime inside cabinets (while also protecting dishes and glassware). Parchment paper can be easily replaced so it is great for the cabinet under the sink, and vinyl board cover liners can be placed into the knife drawer to help keep your sharp knives from sliding around.

Here are some other examples of liners and their potential uses:

Shelf and drawer liners

Adhesive: As the typical, cheaper plastic liners are quite difficult to handle (and remove!), low-tack adhesive versions are highly recommended and can be used to line/protect your drawers.

Cedar: Cedar has repellant properties, which make natural cedar liners a great choice for storage areas where bugs and moths may be a concern.

Cork: Cork can provide a resilient lining to protect glassware and other fragile items. As it is naturally resistant to mold and mildew, this will help to keep your kitchen clean.

Felt: For drawers that contain silver, add felt treated with antitarnishing agents to line and protect the drawers while also protect the silverware.

Rubber: Keep small items held in place by using this resilient, non-slip liner. However, storing silverware in a drawer lined with rubber is not a good idea as it contains sulfur, which can cause corrosion.

Cleaning cabinet hardware

In a functional kitchen, cabinet doors are succeptible to dirt and grime, especially around handles. All that is required to clean and maintain your cabinet hardware is to add mild dish soap into your regular cleaning routine.

Completely removing the hardware from the doors and drawers is the most effective way to ensure the cleanest finish. Simply unscrew the hardware and soak in warm soapy water, while you work on the rest of the cabinet doors and drawers. If this is not enough, use a soft brush to lightly scrub the soiled areas clean. WHen you are finished, remember to let the hardware completely dry before re-attaching it, so damage is not caused to the wood of the cabinet doors or drawers.

Cleaning cabinet boxes and doors

When cleaning the exterior of your cabinets, the approach should largely depend on the type of material your cabinets are built from, but gentle treatment is always the best idea. As a general rule, a weekly cleaning routine should be established, wiping cabinet exteriors with a soft damp cloth - a damp microfiber cloth is ideal. The first time you try to clean your cabinets, try a few drops of mild dish soap in a bucket of warm water. Apply this mixure with a soft cloth or sponge and see how it works before attempting any stronger concentrations. Never use any abrasive cleaning tools or sponges as these can scratch or dull the finish. Always remember to rinse and completely dry the cabinet.

To remove stubborn stains, try wiping the cabinet with an undiluted all-purpose cleaner. There are hundreds of products on the market that can be used, just remember to always read the label and follow instructions clearly. Test the product on a small inconspicuous area on the inside of one of your cabinets or doors before using it on the main, visible areas of your kitchen cabinets. Again, rinse all surfaces throroughly after cleaning and dry completely.

To clean cabinets that contain glass, wipe with a solution (of one part white vinegar to one part warm water) over the surface and then to avoid streaking, dry with a clean absorbent cloth. You can also use any regular glass cleaner, just remember again, follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer.

The inside of your cabinets should generally be cleaned 3-4 times per year. Remove all contents, including cabinet and drawer liners, and use the dish soap method mentioned earlier for cleaning. Afterwards, wipe the interiors with a clean, damp cloth to rinse. Dry completely with a clean absorbent cloth before replacing the contents.

Cabinet materials and caring for them

In Idaho, the most common cabinet materials are wood and laminate. General care between these products is the same, but each have different treatments for stains and scratches.

Wood: Cabinet faces, doors and drawers can be made from a range of different species; Alder, Maple, Birch, Cherry and Oak are among the most popular. Although the cabinets and doors have an appearance of being made of solid wood, they usually are not, and boxes are typically made with Melamine. Wood cabinets can be finished with lacquer or painted to seal the wood.

Treating scratches in wood can be simple if they are superficial. Using shoe polish with a matching color to the wood finish, or a wax stick designed for furniture, you can generally camouflage small scratches. If this doesn't work, the wood may need to be refinished and you should speak with a professional before attempting the work.

Laminate: This is a product known locally as Melamine, which is a medium density fiberboard that has plastic layers laminated to it

Treating stains on Melamine with a matte finish can be done by using a paste of baking soda and water, which will draw the stain out. It is important to not rub this paste as the baking soda acts as an abrasive and can damage the finish. Do not use this paste if your Melamine has a glossy texture! Repairing light scratches in Melamine can be simple but generally require a repair kit made especially for the material, which can be purchased from home improvement stores. Deep scratches in Melamine can not be repaired and in this case, the material needs to be replaced.

Kitchen cabinets, when cleaned and maintained regularly can remain beautiful and stay that way for a long time. Hopefully these tips can prove useful as you get to work in your own kitchen!

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