Read these 8 Caring for Your Cabinets Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Cabinet tips and hundreds of other topics.
Newer materials and production methods are now being used to make kitchen and other cabinetry. Online you'll find many choices for what is known as Thermofoil/Laminate cabinets. One of the benefits of such a new type of finish is that cleaning greasy kitchen cabinets will be a breeze even though the appearance of these cabinets will make onlookers think you purchased expensive custom cabinetry.
This finish, which goes well in a French Country kitchen, has a clear, shiny appearance. Most of the care tips for this type of finish are the same as for caring for cupboards and wooden cabinetry. However, you will not need to use any type of polish produced for wood. Just use a mild detergent or soap (sparingly) and water to clean simple food messes. Use a damp cloth for greasy spills, then the appropriate cleaner. Never use anything abrasive or powered agents to clean your Thermofoil/Laminate cabinets as this can cause scratching. Use a bag of ice on top of chewing gum or wax spills until you can crumble it off.
One of the most important cleaning tips for your Thermofoil/Laminate finish cabinets is to clean up spills as they happen. This will prevent them from being harder to deal with later on. Even though your kitchen gets more use than your den, bedroom or entry way, you should treat your kitchen cabinets with as much care as your treat other fine pieces of furniture in your house.
Let's say you bought an old house with lots of wood cabinetry in the kitchen. If there are water or other types of stains on the wood, you may have gotten a good deal on the home. But don't despair. You can try a variety of strategies and products to get older wood kitchen cabinets looking better.
Visiting a furniture restoration professional may be worth it as they know not only the characteristics of a variety of woods but also what products work best for different stains. Never try a product on your kitchen cabinetry without testing it in a hidden area first no matter what the directions indicate. A product used for heavy wood cleaning is oxalic acid. But, keep in mind, that this acid is a form of bleach and so removing stains -- such as those left by water -- may cause enough damage to the cabinet's finish that re-finishing may be in order. However, this might be worth the trouble because, in the end, your cabinets can look nearly new.
Some stains might simply be too severe to remove either with home remedies or items you purchase at a store. In this case, you may need to sand the stain and apply a fresh coat of finish. If you don't want to deal with this type of work, many professionals can do it for you. Again, restoring your kitchen cabinetry to its original glory will not only make you satisfied each time you enter that room, but will also add monetary value to your home.
Even the best made wood cabinetry shows wear and tear over time, especially in places like cabinet doors that are touched again and again each and every day. You may be disappointed if you see your expensive cabinetry -- especially it it's real wood -- looking a little rough. But there are a variety of ways you can take care of the natural wood in your home, including your kitchen cabinetry. In fact, you should expect to spend time doing this to maintain your investment, especially if you think you may someday sell your home.
High-quality and attractive cabinets don't need to be replaced and that is a great selling tip. One way to get tips on maintaining your cabinets is to read all instructions that came with them. Don't just throw them in a drawer. But, if you didn't install your kitchen cabinets, a home remedy might help. Here is an example: Put about half a cup of olive oil in a dish and add a tablespoon of real lemon juice. This can be fresh squeezed or from a jar. After mixing, use a soft cloth -- preferably a lint-free one -- and use it to clean and freshen rough spots on your cabinetry. Just a little will do. Use this method about once a month depending on the usage your cabinets get.
Let's face it. If you have a busy family, it's nearly impossible to keep your kitchen clean all the time. Kids are in and out of the fridge. They make sandwiches and leave a mess. They open the cabinet doors looking for something to eat after school leaving greasy fingerprints in their wake. Even though it's not possible to have a spotless kitchen every minute, there are some habits you should form when cleaning your wooden kitchen cabinets so they last as long as possible and look their best.
First of all, clean up serious spills when they happen. This will prevent problems that are harder to deal with later on. When removing a spot, start at the outer edge and work inward to prevent it from spreading. A mild detergent that is non-abrasive is best for food and water messes. Grease, lipstick and oil should first be cleaned with a damp, lint-free cloth, then polished with a product designed for cleaning wooden kitchen cabinets.
So what if you child gets chewing gum on your new cabinets or you spill candle wax when preparing dinner? Put ice into a plastic bag and place it on the spot until it is brittle enough to crumble off. Then use the proper cleaner for that surface.
It's inevitable: Your child opens a kitchen cabinet with a knife in his hand and nicks up your beautiful wood, or you run back to grab something from a drawer and forget you have your car keys in your hand -- yet another scratch mark is made. Or, you are in a hurry to prepare dinner and you bang a stainless steel utensil into your island cabinetry.
Fortunately, there are a variety of ways -- including some home remedies -- for making these dents or nicks disappear or look much less noticeable. While you should always follow the advice of your cabinet manufacturer and consider buying any repair products they offer, there are additional ways to keep your cabinets looking great.
Believe it or not, you can open your child's crayon box, pick a color that matches your cabinetry, melt it down and rub it into the dent or scratch. You can also use iodine to address small nicks in wood furniture with a cherry finish. Use it gently until the imperfection is reduced. Finally, a walnut or Brazil nut can match some wood stains. Its natural oils can be used on some scratches as can shoe polish. Be careful using any home remedy of this nature. Test the process on a hidden area first.
If you bought quality wood or laminate cabinets, you already know a few simple cabinet care tips can protect your investment and prevent voiding your warranty. Even though wood cabinets have finish coatings to protect them, you can still scratch the wood through abuse or an accident.
Be careful when using knives and other sharp kitchen accessories near your cabinetry. Always have a cutting board nearby and keep knives in a safe location. Avoid opening a cabinet drawer with a kitchen utensil in your hand. Keep plenty of trivets handy for hot cookware coming off or out of the stove. If you smoke, consider not smoking in your kitchen. Be extra careful with candles in your new kitchen. But even the most careful homeowner has accidents.
There are several products you can keep on hand for unexpected scratches, nicks, dents or burns. You can find out more about these products as well as cabinetry care tips at Armstrong.com. Here are some examples:
By following a few simple tips, you can keep your cabinets looking beautiful for many years. You should read carefully all cabinet care tips that accompany your purchase as you may void warranties if you don't. But, nicks, scratches -- even cigarette burns -- might happen over the course of your daily routine. Most nicks and dents can be repaired with a care kit. Scratches and cigarette burns may be a little more time consuming to address but they can also be fixed following these steps:
Since your kitchen cabinetry is located near the sink, it's likely -- at some point -- it will develop water stains. If the finish on the cabinetry is old or worn, that makes water stains easier to appear. Sometimes water stains on wood turn white. Don't delay in addressing this type of mark on your kitchen cabinetry. If you do, it will be harder and maybe impossible to get off.
Believe it or not, some people have removed water marks on cabinetry with toothpaste or mayonnaise. If you use toothpaste in this situation, it must be white. Gel toothpastes will not be effective. Keep a soft, clean, lint-free cloth handy for water stains and, when they occur, rub the water mark gently first. You may find that this is all that's necessary. But if the stain remains, try toothpaste or mayo. You can leave these remedies on over night if it's an older water mark. Then, wipe with your clean, lint-free cloth.
Other people have discovered a paste of baking soda and water works best for water stains. You can also leave this home remedy on overnight. Some wood-lovers don't allow a water stain to dry in the first place. Use a blow dryer on low heat to dry it up before it has a chance to leave a mark.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|