The Ultimate Cabinet Care Guide

If you’ve just had new cabinets installed in your kitchen, you’re likely enjoying all of their charming details.

After all, from the updated look to having cabinets in perfect working order, a cabinet refresh can do wonders for your home. 

Ready to keep your home looking that way? By prioritizing cabinet care, you can ensure your kitchen keeps that fresh feeling longer with pieces that keep working for years. Today, we’re covering a number of useful strategies for increasing the lifespan of your cabinets. 

Cabinet Care Basics

Wooden cabinets, Anne Arundel County, Johnson Lumber

With regular cabinet care and occasional maintenance, your cabinetry should last for years. Inattentive care, on the other hand, can lead to a number of problems, from aesthetic issues to premature wear and tear.

One fundamental way to keep your cabinets looking as good as they did on the first day is through proper cabinet care. Generally speaking, that includes regular cleaning and polishing while avoiding household cleaners that can age, warp, or damage the wood.

This is essential to cabinet care because of wood’s nature. As a building material with its own characteristics, like wood color, grain, and growth patterns, it’s worth taking time to find the seals and stains that accentuate that color. By applying and wiping these stains by hand, the wood’s natural color and character is highlighted. 

Cabinet Care After Installation

After the installation of your kitchen cabinets, you have the opportunity to protect them for the long-haul. Start by using a soft, slightly damp cloth to wipe the cabinets clean. Using a soft, clean, and dry cloth, wipe the cabinets down until they’re free of moisture.

Important to remember: wipe in the direction of the wood grain.

Now, it’s time to add a polish. First, consider a polish that doesn’t use silicone or wax, as these can lead to a waxy buildup. To apply, begin with a thin coat of high-quality wood polish. This layer of polish protects your kitchen cabinets from small scratches, stains, and moisture.

Basic Cabinet Cleaning Steps

One way to lose the feeling of a freshly installed kitchen is the buildup of grease around your cabinets. 

Being proactive about cleaning away that grease is a small step that will lead to long-lasting results. As a rule of thumb, consider doing this cabinet cleaning step every two weeks.

To start removing buildup around your cabinets, grab a soft cloth that’s damp with warm water. Rub it in and around your cabinets to remove the grime. If some stubborn grease remains, you can mix in a bit of dishwashing soap with the warm water. As with the polish step, make sure to follow the wood grain’s direction when wiping down your wood cabinets. 

Once you have removed the grime, use a soft, dry cloth to get rid of any remaining moisture on or around the cabinets.

Grime and grease sticking around? Whether you’ve got a high-activity kitchen or you missed your biweekly cleaning, it’s often the case that a routine cabinet cleaning won’t get rid of all the gunk. For a stronger, you’ll mix baking soda with water to create a paste. Put the paste on a sponge, then rub the affected areas until the grime is removed. 

If baking soda and water don’t work, vinegar and water can help to get rid of problem areas with your kitchen cabinets. If you’re going to switch solutions, make sure the first has been completely cleaned away.

After you’ve used the paste, you’ll want to remove it and clean the area. Use a cloth damp with water first, then a soft, dry cloth. 

Cabinet Care Products To Avoid

Goff After 4, Anne Arundel County, Johnson Lumber

In addition to cleaning your cabinets, cabinet care also means avoiding damage. Below, we’re sharing a list of products and ingredients that can cause damage to home kitchen cabinets. 

What to avoid when cleaning your kitchen cabinets:

  • Ammonia
  • Bleach
  • Brushes with plastic thistles
  • Nail polish remover
  • Paint thinner
  • Petroleum-based products
  • Scoring pad
  • Solvents
  • Steel wool
  • Strong detergents and soaps

Though these products can help to clean in other situations, do your best to avoid using them on your cabinets.

How To Repair Cabinet Nicks and Scratches

Part of the joy of homeownership is when your home looks just as you imagined it. In that way, freshly installed cabinets in a remodeled kitchen can feel like living in a dream.

The rude awakening? The inevitable nicks and scratches that our cabinets pick up through daily use. While they can be disheartening in the moment, there’s always hope.

The easiest way to address these cabinet blemishes is with a touch-up kit. Most contractors will include a cabinet touch-up kit with a new installation. If you don’t have one handy, or you’ve misplaced it, reach out to your contractor or a showroom that stocks your brand of cabinets and they may be able to help.

Act Fast To Clean Up Cabinet Spills

Like with wooden coffee and dining tables, spills on cabinets can become stains if not addressed. To keep your home’s kitchen cabinets looking new, do your best to wipe up spills promptly. 

The most effective way to wipe up a spill from a kitchen cabinet is with a damp cloth or sponge. Try to blot the spill instead of wiping it, as wiping can spread the mess around further. After it is cleaned up, dry the cabinet’s surface.

How To Avoid Excessive Moisture With Kitchen Cabinets

A key part of prolonging the lifespan of kitchen cabinets is avoiding moisture. Cleaning up after spills quickly is an important step. Just as important is preventing extended exposure to moisture.

By virtue of being in the kitchen, cabinets are often near high-moisture areas like sinks, plumbing, dishwashers, and refrigerators. When possible, dry off areas if water has spilled. Don’t leave damp towels or other wet materials on your cabinet doors. For appliances that might emit steam or water, like an espresso machine, be sure to avoid having them adjacent to your cabinet.

Protect Cabinets From Extreme Temperatures And Humidity 

Being a natural element, wood is sensitive to swings in temperature and humidity. In fact, warmth and moisture can affect wood in a number of ways. This includes causing it to expand and contract, swell, warp, and dry out. Any of these can do more than tarnish your cabinetry’s finish – they can also damage how well they work.

One of the best ways to protect cabinets is to maintain an even temperature and humidity throughout the year.

Still, this is a natural reaction for wood furniture. For new kitchen cabinets, it is worth letting them go through one heating cycle and putting up with some warping before you consider replacing it.

Avoid Direct Exposure To Light

Another common affliction for kitchen cabinets is light damage. Prolonged direct exposure to sunlight can cause cabinets to fade. While this is especially true for natural wood cabinets, even cabinets with painted wood surfaces or laminate wood can also fade.

Since it may not always be possible to choose the positions of your cabinets, consider using window coverings like blinds or drapes to help cut the amount of direct sunlight that comes through. 

kitchen cabinets

Keep Harsh Cleaners Away From Your Cabinets

Just because a cleaning agent may be ideal in other areas of your home does not make it the ideal choice for cleaning your cabinetry. Many harsh cleaners can actually damage the finish, so it’s best to avoid them. This includes those cleaners which contain ammonia, bleach, citric acid, and organic solvents. 

Avoid Unnecessary Exposure To Waxes

Despite how convenient they sound, a common self-polishing wax can do more harm to your kitchen cabinets than good. Rather than jump at the first item, seek out high-quality cream furniture polishes. These can often be found at paint or furniture stores.

Protect Cabinets From Scratches

In many cases, we end up scratching our kitchen cabinets by using the wrong materials to clean them. Items like scouring pads or cleaners with harsh ingredients can actually dull the cabinet’s finish.  Even certain types of paper towels can leave tiny scratches. To avoid kitchen cabinet abrasion, use soft, damp cloths to clean.  

Keep Cabinets From Contact With Plastic Or Rubber

Are you storing plastic or rubber items inside your wooden cabinets? Be sure to create a barrier between those items and direct contact with wood, as they can sometimes cause reactions that tarnish the finish.

Protect Kitchen Cabinets From Aggressive Acids

Because of the sensitive nature of wood as a material and certain finishes, it’s best to avoid cleaning products that contain acids and abrasives. Those products, like Soft Scrub, Tilex, Lime-Away, and others, can eat away and damage laminate finishes.

Maintenance Tips For Laminate Kitchen Cabinet Products

What is so handy about laminate kitchen cabinets is that they can last a lifetime. While maintenance is important, it is often as simple as using a damp sponge to wipe them down.

Basic Laminate Cabinet Care

Start by getting a soft cloth wet with a mix of mild dishwasher detergent and warm water. Wipe down the cabinets. Then rinse using warm water and dry with a soft cloth. If you’re dealing with spots or stains, an all-purpose cleaner can be used in a pinch.

Difficult-To-Remove Spots and Stains

To address spots and stains on laminate kitchen cabinets, you may need a stronger solution. One option is to make a paste from baking soda and water. Apply that paste to a soft-bristled brush, then rub it gently over the blemishes.

Because the paste is abrasive, it’s best to apply it in light, circular motions. Once the spots are gone, rinse the area with a wet cloth, then dry it off.

If the stains persist, you can try using undiluted household bleach as the next option. Be sure the label reads 5% solution of sodium hypochlorite. As this is a powerful cleaning agent, take care to avoid exposure to your eyes, skin, and clothes.

The bleach should be applied to a damp sponge or a paper towel. Then place it on the affected area for up to – but no longer than – 90 seconds. Then rinse the area with warm water and dry.

Guide To Cabinet Care For Maple Chopping Blocks

A freshly renovated kitchen often means a beautiful new maple chopping block. Given that this may be one of the most-used parts of your kitchen, it’s helpful to know how to protect it.

Basic Maple Chopping Block Cleaning

Many maple chopping blocks – also called butcher blocks – are meant to be a cutting surface. In that way, you can think of it like a cutting board, and you shouldn’t let water or other liquids stay on the surface for too long.

How To Reseal A Chopping Block

Resealing your maple chopping block ensures it will last. To reseal and preserve it, use mineral or vegetable oil. There’s no need to reseal the whole block each time; you can focus on the area which you normally use.

Maple chopping blocks are often in our homes for years. That extended use may, from time to time, call for a complete refinishing. To do so, you’ll sand off the finish, then reseal the whole block again with mineral or vegetable oil.

How Maryland Humidity And Temperature Affects Your Cabinetry

Starmark Kitchen Cabinetry at Johnson Kitchens, Anne Arundel County, Johnson Lumber

As a Maryland homeowner, there are many steps you can take to make sure your kitchen cabinets last a lifetime. Beyond the hands-on maintenance, part of that care is making sure your home is actually wood-friendly.

In the same way that you can create a comfortable home for your family by controlling the temperature and humidity, you can also do so to keep wood furnishings healthy.

By minimizing the day-to-day and season-to-season changes of your home’s temperature and humidity, you’ll help prolong the life of your wood kitchen cabinets.

How Moisture Affects Cabinet Care

  • Prolonged dry air can lead some solid wood parts to crack
  • Dry conditions can lead insert panels in panel doors to shrink, causing panel edges to be exposed
  • Those exposed panel edges are often unfinished, meaning you’ll have an unmatched surface
  • While not an automatic need for replacement, you will need to look at how to better control your humidity levels

How Temperature Variations Can Affect Your Cabinets

  • Varying temperature and humidity levels are normally connected
  • An increase in temperature can cause the wood to expand, while a decrease causes it to contract
  • The more sudden the change, the more dramatic the material’s change, leading to cracks and splits or warping and bowing

Steps To Prevent Temperature And Humidity Variations In Your Home

  • Control humidity during the summer months with dehumidifiers or AC
  • Prevent winter air dryness with a humidifier
  • Keep a constant climate during vacation home offseasons to reduce risks
  • Before installing your new kitchen cabinets, place the cabinetry in the room where it will be placed
  • If the actual room can’t be used, place the cabinetry in a nearby room with similar conditions
  • On a similar note, don’t store cabinetry in a room with different temperature or humidity levels, like garages, basements, unheated or uncooled spaces just before installation
  • Keep in mind that your home’s temperature and humidity can be affected by:
    • Proper outside drainage
    • Adequate home insulation
    • Properly installed vapor barriers
    • Adequate ventilation 
    • Proper air exchange

Besides being a smart step for preserving your home furnishings, a home with a properly controlled temperature and humidity is healthier to live in, too.

Johnson Lumber Has You Covered

We’ve been serving Central Maryland for over 100 years! We know a thing or two about cabinetry and how to keep them look great for generations. Stop by our showroom or give us a call. We’re more than happy to help.

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