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How to Maintain and Clean Painted Cabinets

You made the mood board, you did the research, you bought the supplies, you committed, and you painted your cabinets! Congratulations! Now… how do you clean painted cabinets?

Will the paint chip? Will the chemicals mess it up? How often should you wipe it down? Are there cleaners to avoid? There are so many questions!

Good news– we’ve got all the information you need to know to clean painted cabinets with confidence! Read on to learn more about regular maintenance, deep cleaning, and answers to a few commonly asked questions.

clean painted cabinets

Routine Painted Cabinet Cleaning Tips

Kitchens are the heart of the home, and the wear and tear they show is equal to their use. Grease, crumbs, and more get stuck on them and need to be cleaned.

There are a few simple steps you can add to your cleaning routine that will make cleaning painted cabinets a breeze.

Dusting

To dust your cabinets, it’s best to use a simple microfiber cloth all by itself. The less liquid, especially cleaner with harsh chemicals, you use on the paint, the better.

When dusting your cabinets, always start from the top and move your way down. That way, any dust that falls off the cloth will be picked up as you work your way down.

Pay close attention to any details on your cabinet door and around the hardware. It’s easy for dust to gather and settle in grooves. The longer it stays there, the more difficult it is to remove, so it’s better to get it off on a regular basis.

Wipe with Mild, Soapy Water

It’s best to stay away from chemicals when cleaning painted cabinets. Even mild cleaners can ruin the finish you worked so hard to accomplish.

Instead, use something like a few drops of Dawn dish soap to create warm, soapy water, and gently clean your cabinets with a soft sponge or rag dipped in the water.

Not only will that get the surfaces looking cleaner, but it will also kill any harmful germs or bacteria that may be lurking on the surface.

Dry Thoroughly

As soon as you’re done with the warm, soapy water, it’s crucial that you dry the clean, painted cabinets off immediately.

Painted cabinets are highly susceptible to water marks if liquid is left on their surface for too long, and you worked too hard to have that happen!

Clean Spills and Sprays Immediately

If you see a spray or splatter, clean the painted cabinets immediately. Don’t wait, put it off, or forget about it.

The longer substances stay on the surface, the higher the chance that their removal will cause damage to the painted finish underneath.

clean painted cabinets

Painted Cabinet Deep Cleaning Tips

If you inherited painted cabinets or painted your own and didn’t have the routine care tips before now and you’ve found yourself with a bit of a mess, all is not lost!

Here are a few tips for cleaning more stubborn messes.

Grease Build Up

For grease build-up or more stubborn spots that won’t budge with mild, soapy water, there are a few other tricks to have up your sleeve.

Toothbrush

Soft toothbrushes can be used in addition to soft sponges to help break through heavy grease buildup. Don’t use a ton of “elbow grease.” Let the bristles do the work.

This is also a great tip to target intricate parts of doors where sponges can’t reach well.

Baking Soda

You could also use a gentle baking soda paste to help break down grease further to make it easier to clean painted cabinets.

Mix baking soda and water until it forms a paste, and then apply it to the grease. Use a soft sponge or toothbrush like normal.

The baking soda acts as a mild abrasive without scratching or damaging the painted surface.

High-Touch Areas

The area right behind door knobs and drawer pulls have a tendency to show the most wear and tear.

When you’re deep cleaning painted cabinets, take the extra time to remove the hardware so you can thoroughly clean the surface behind them.


Best Practices for Long-Term Painted Kitchen Cabinet Maintenance

Regularly Inspect

It’s easy to become “blind” to things we see every day, but when you choose to paint your cabinets, you choose to commit to a life of regularly choosing to see things that need to be cleaned on them.

Work it into your weekly or daily rhythm. Maybe every morning, while you’re waiting for your coffee to brew, you take a look at the cabinets around the coffee maker.

Build it into your nighttime routine to wipe down the upper and lower cabinets near the oven or cooktop to get rid of grease splattered or spilled before it even has time to harden.

Address Issues Right Away

As mentioned before, it’s important to take care of issues as soon as they are noticed, but that goes beyond just cleaning up dirt and grime.

If you notice paint chipping, it’s important to touch it up quickly, or the chipping could spread, making it a harder job later. Just gently sand the spot and touch it up with the same paint used to paint the cabinets originally.

If you notice water damage, look closer to see if there are any signs of mildew or mold. Any of those issues are fixable, but you can’t fix what you don’t notice.


Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use any type of cleaner on my painted cabinets?

It’s best to avoid any chemical cleaners when cleaning painted cabinets. The chemicals can be too harsh on the paint and make it chip or even just slough off.

Warm, soapy water, made with a mild soap like Dawn, paired with a soft sponge (or a soft toothbrush in stubborn or hard-to-reach places) will get most jobs done.

What are signs of possible long-term damage I should look for?

Look for things such as:

  • Peeling or bubbling paint
  • Warping or swelling
  • Discoloration
  • Bad odors
  • Soft spots
  • Cracks
  • Visible water stains
  • Musty smells inside cabinets

If you see any of these, investigate further and take care of any issues so they don’t get worse. If it feels like it’s a bigger problem than you can solve, get some professional advice to address the issues.

clean painted cabinets

Time to Clean those Painted Cabinets!

While it may seem intimidating, a few simple, manageable steps and routines will make cleaning painted cabinets in your home a piece of cake!

If this cleaning post has you in the get-it-done mode, check out our post on How to Organize Kitchen Cabinets for more helpful tips.