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How To Clean Painted Cabinets

We've all been there... you look away for what felt like two seconds to hear your kiddo finish their story, and the spaghetti sauce has boiled up and splashed onto the cabinets! Not a problem - we'll get into the details on exactly what to use to tackle even the toughest spills without damaging the painted finish.

Here are some general steps and tips for cleaning your painted cabinets:

Are Your Cabinets Factory Finished?

There can be a pretty big difference between latex paint and professionally factory-finished cabinets with regard to durability against cleaners and light scrubbing. As we've discussed before, factory finishes are pretty durable and won't damage with most standard household cleaners. That said, let's be sure before proceeding!

Yes, they are factory finished - A good, general guide that we used to tell our customers is (1) nothing ammonia-based (like Lysol) and (2) nothing abrasive (like Soft-Scrub). We recommend starting with dish soap and warm water. If that doesn't do the trick, you could try a natural cleaner like Seventh Generation. For really tough messes, you can use tri-sodium phosphate (this is actually what we would use before refinishing kitchen cabinets). This stuff works very well, but can be pretty nasty. Be sure to wear safety glasses, work in a well-ventilated area, and follow all manufacturer's instructions for mixing, usage, and disposal.

No, they are not - If your cabinets are painted with interior latex paint, we want to try and avoid using any cleaners. The best first step would be to use dish soap and warm water and a very soft cloth. If that doesn't do the trick, baking soda will work to help remove bigger messes. We definitely want to avoid anything aggressive like anything ammonia based (like Lysol) or abrasive (like Soft-Scrub).

I'm not sure - Using the wrong cleaner on your painted cabinets can damage the finish, so if you're unsure let's run a test! Mix up a little baking soda and warm water and apply this paste to somewhere inconspicuous like the inside of a door or the back of a drawer front. Leave it there for about 10 minutes, wipe away, and see if there is any damage. If not, you're good to go!

Additional Tips

  • For stubborn stains or grease buildup, you can make a paste with baking soda and water, apply it to the stained area, and gently scrub with a soft cloth or sponge. Rinse and dry as usual.

  • Avoid using abrasive scrubbers, steel wool, or abrasive cleaning pads, as they can scratch the paint or wood.

  • Never use harsh chemicals, solvents, or products containing bleach on painted cabinets, as they can strip the paint and damage the finish.

  • Regular maintenance is key to keeping painted cabinets looking their best. Wipe down your cabinets periodically, especially in high-traffic or cooking areas, to prevent the buildup of grease and dirt.

  • If your cabinets have a clear protective finish (such as polyurethane), you can periodically apply a small amount of a cabinet or furniture polish to help maintain their luster and provide extra protection.

We at Wayhome exist to help you, the homeowner! If you have any questions about your home's cabinetry, get free expert advice in our Facebook group Ask A Cabinetmaker.

Here's to empowered homeowners!


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