Caring for and maintaining wood cabinets

To ensure that your wood cabinets continue to be beautiful and work well, you need to care for them properly.  This includes cleaning and polishing the cabinets regularly, as well as knowing which products are safe to use.


On day one - Polish

Caring for your cabinets begins immediately upon installation, when you should wipe the cabinets with a clean, soft, damp cloth and then dry them.  Next, apply a high-quality furniture polish.  Make sure that the polish does not contain silicone or wax.   Polish helps to protect your cabinets from minor scratches and stains.


Every two weeks - Cleaning

To keep your cabinets looking clean and new, wipe them down with a soft, clean, damp cloth at least every other week.  If water does not clean them completely, then use a very small amount of mild dish washer detergent along with water to dampen your cloth.  When you wipe the cabinets, wipe in the same direction of the wood grain.  When you are finished cleaning them, dry the cabinets thoroughly.


When stains occur - Special Care

Occasionally, you may find that the bi-weekly cleaning does not remove all of the stains and dirt from your cabinets.  When this happens, there are two options for deeper cleaing:

  1. Make a paste of baking soda and water.  Use a sponge to gently scrub the stain in a circular motion with the paste.  Finally, rinse the cabinet with with water and the use a soft cloth to dry it.
  2. Mix vinegar and water (1/4c water to 4c water) and use a soft cloth dampened with the mixture to gently scrub the dirt and stains.


What not to do - Products that damage cabinets

Aside from water, mild dish washing detergent, vinegar and baking soda, most products (or their ingredients) can damage cabinets and their use ought to be avoided.  These include:

  • Ammonia
  • Bleach
  • Citric acid (including orange and lemon oil)
  • Nail polish remover
  • Paint thinners
  • Petroleum-based products
  • Plastic brushes
  • Scouring pads
  • Self-polishing waxes
  • Solvents
  • Steel wool
  • Strong detergents and soaps.


Tips for Maintenance

Nicks & Scratches:  If your cabinets get nicked or scratched, the best approach is to use a kit for repair.  If there are minor scratches, you may be able to use a furniture oil to "cover" the scratch.

Spills:  Do not allow spills to sit - clean them up immediately - or they may cause stains.  Simply use a damp cloth or sponge to blot up spills and then dry the surface immediately.

Moisture, Temperature: Excess moisture is harmful to your cabinets and will cause the finish to deteriorate quickly. At special risk are the cabinets near the sink and dishwasher.  Whenever cabinets get wet, dry them immediately.  Additionally, ensure that steam-producing appliances, such as coffee makers, are not positioned such that the steam will negatively affect the cabinets.

If there are significant variations in temperature and humidity levels, then the wood may expand/contract, swell, warp, and dry out causing cracking and problems with finish.  Attempt to keep the temperature and humidity stable in your house throughout the year to minimize risk to the cabinets.


Best Tip

Use a damp soft cloth to care for your cabinets.