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How to Clean Cupboards

Featured image for "How to Clean Cupboards" blog post. Room with cupboard.

Although our cupboards get a lot of use, it is easy to forget just how much! Depending on where they are, these popular fixtures may be used to store anything from foodstuffs to toiletries, to hardware tools! Though it may not seem like a big deal, keeping those mini-storage units cleaned and maintained not only keeps the room looking spotless, but also preserves the items within them. Here are some useful pointers that will show you how to clean cupboards effectively!

What is Your Cupboard Made Of?

Firstly, the material of the cupboard determines a lot of what goes into keeping the cupboard well maintained and cleaned. Certain materials are more porous, which may mean that you’ll have to pay special attention to the amount of moisture you expose the cupboard to. Other materials are more susceptible to scratching or chipping. It is useful to know how to clean cupboards based on material. Take a look at a few tips for some commonly used varieties:

White cupboard.
Cupboards can be made of a variety of materials.

Laminate

Laminate is made of synthetic material, with usually several layers. The protective top layer is what provides that shiny, completely smooth finish. This creates a pretty scratch-resistant surface, that gives the look of wood. This material is relatively resistant to moisture, although water spots can be left behind. Fortunately, these are superficial.

Want to know how to clean cupboards made of this classy material? Firstly, you should just about always be using a soft, non-abrasive utensil such as a sponge or microfiber cloth.

Depending on the amount of clean-up, slight variation may be of use. In any case, avoid any material that is prone to scrape the laminate surface being cleaned. Look to keep that exterior layer in mint condition, so as to protect the decorative and base layers below. Repeated damage eventually exposes these delicate areas. Another rule is to use a gentle cleanser, and we will really dive into some effective mixes and cleaning agents as we go on.

With laminate, surface scratches should ideally be attended to as soon as possible so that the spot is not worsened with time. Luckily, these small spots repair easily. A furniture wax along with a soft-bristled wax brush are your best friends here. A more quick, inexpensive option is found in wood filler pens, but be sure to match colors! You want to go at it in very thin layers over the scratch itself so that you don’t overdo it and end up having to remove any excess.

Laminate cupboard.
Laminate has a similar look to wood but is more durable.

Wood

Other cupboards are wood-based. The most common forms of wood used are plywood and particleboard. But don’t be fooled! Although they may seem to be of the same material, their properties and makeup are different. There is some variation in the approaches you take with plywood and particleboard.

Plywood is also a layered material. It tends to be very durable and robust, and the top veneer layer is what gives the smooth finish. Generally, you can treat this material similar to its laminate counterpart. A water-diluted vinegar or dish detergent mixture generally works well in either case, and a standard cloth or sponge should do in this case as well. If you are looking to do a quick dusting, a feather duster will do the trick.

Particleboard is similar to the before-mentioned materials, in terms of the cleaning agents and tools you use. But as mentioned, there are subtle differences to keep in mind. Particleboard is composite, so in simple terms, it is made by combining many bits of wood. It doesn’t have that detailed layering you see with other types. You may look to clean this delicate material with a furniture cream and cloth, but you still must allow the surface to air dry for a few hours.

When cleaning particle board, avoid saturation. Rather than a wet cloth (although a drenched one is not needed in any wood material), a damp cloth would be best for particleboard. Many people choose to start on particleboard with an initial dusting, just to remove as much surface dust or loose dirt as possible. This works well as a pre-clean because cloth with less saturation can collect more build-up, which can actually spread small bits of grime.

You can further preserve your wooden cupboard by taking another step. When you are done, take a clean, dry cloth and wipe away excess moisture that may remain. This drying shouldn’t take as much sweat as the clean itself, as you have already done the hard part. Even though this part may not be the main event, a dark cupboard left teeming with excess moisture is the perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew. So be sure to dry!

To give your cupboard a final sparkling finish, work the surface with a high-quality polishing cloth like the Champion Polishing Cloth. It works great on any surface!

Polishing Cloth perfectly polish anything.

How to Clean Cupboards That Are Painted

The painted surfaces can be cleaned in a way similar to unpainted wood. If you choose vinegar, you may do well to dial it back a tad, but not by much. Gentle, circular motions with a non-abrasive sponge will do the trick here. There’s no need to scrub your way into having to paint, design, and decorate all over again!

For oil-based paint, some like to target heavily stained spots using baking soda. This should only be used as a spot treatment. Simply add just enough water to create a paste and mix well. Take a small part of a lightly damp cloth, collect a bit of your paste, and very gently scrub the spots.

It is not recommended, however, that the baking soda paste be used on surfaces painted using the latex-based varieties. They are more prone to stripping, and the abrasive nature of baking soda can do more harm than good. For tougher stains on cupboards of latex-based paint, the best bet would be to stick to the vinegar solution. Another option is using oil-based cleaners that are made for wood, which is almost always specified.

Metal

People tend to like this material because it is less prone to stains or retaining spills, as its non-porous nature doesn’t do much in the way of soaking moisture in. However, as with most other surfaces, it will get a sticky build up if these accidents aren’t attended to. A sudsy water and dish soap mix is especially great for cleaning metal cupboards. The Champion Ultra Concentrated Degreaser is great for getting rid of built up dirt and grime on all cupboard surfaces.

The Ultimate Grease Slayer.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is renowned for its luster and shine. It is the material of choice for a variety of appliances you may own such as your oven, washer, dryer, dishwasher, and refrigerator. You generally clean a stainless-steel cupboard as you would other surfaces. When looking to remove fingerprints and streaks, the Champion Polishing Cloth is an excellent tool for the job.

In any case…

When cleaning cupboards, exercise caution! Many cupboards have easily detachable doors and shelves. When targeting the hard to reach corners and crevices, be careful not to apply undue pressure to the shelf itself. The same goes for cleaning a drawer since it oftentimes can be moved off the track and come out.

One solution you may find useful is first targeting these areas with a soft-bristled dusting brush. The point here is to loosen up as much dirt as possible initially so that you don’t find yourself applying too much pressure to the area later. Then, of course, follow with your gentle cleaning solution. A sponge may not get those corners as well as a soft cloth can, so the cloth may be the better option.

Kitchen cupboards.
Cleaning cupboards is an intricate, but necessary, task.

How to Choose a Safe Cleaning Agent

Some cleanups, however, require different approaches. There are many options available for each need. However, bear in mind that the quickest cleaning agent may not always be the safest one. Certain products may damage your material or contain harsh chemicals that you don’t want to be left exposed for small children or pets to get ahold of.

There are many different approaches, and it can be daunting to decide which one is the friendliest for your cupboard. Let’s take a look at a few commonly used options as well as few things to keep an eye out for when figuring out how to clean cupboards safely:

Homemade Options

You know the old adage! Yes, producing your own cleaning solution tends to be not only safe but affordable. The world is only getting more industrial and manufactural, so most find it comforting to know that the ingredients they use can be found within the home. Homemade solutions are also generally quick and easy to make. Added, you know what your solution contains. Take a look at a few common examples of recipes:

  • Mix one-part white vinegar and one to two parts water. The acidity of vinegar makes it a go-to cleaning base for many situations. Diluting it with water “calms” the vinegar down so that the clean isn’t harsh. This is good for painted and laminate surfaces. This also helps remove rust from metal surfaces, however, it should be noted that heavy exposure can actually damage these surfaces.
  • Gentle dish soap and water. This one is pretty self-explanatory but be sure to keep some suds in the mix. One other tip, though, is to use lukewarm water. Attempting to using steaming water not only poses a safety issue but could cause warping or discoloration of certain laminate or wood finishes. This is also good for certain metals that are sensitive to vinegar when overused.
  • Olive oil and natural lemon juice. Many favor this natural mix in terms of getting a polished look. If you plan on using this one, make sure you precede the clean with a dusting of the surface. This works for those wood and laminate surfaces that you want to keep smooth and shiny. It is similar in ratio to the vinegar solution, with the olive oil being your “water” here. Some even replace the lemon juice part for a tad less vinegar.
Wood cupboards.
There are numerous homemade cleaning solutions you can use to clean your cupboards.

Polishing Rules of Thumb

When looking for a polishing mixture look for an oil-based one. These are a staple in home improvement for polishing wood surfaces. Further, apply these polishes lightly to your finished wood furniture or fixtures with a soft cloth for the most effective buff. However, keep in mind that polish has its ceiling! It shouldn’t be your go-to for substantial dirt and build-up.

The best solution for polishing various surfaces around your home would be to use a high-quality polishing cloth that already has a polishing solution built into it! The Champion Polishing Cloth is equal to 1 gallon of metal polish, translating to tons of savings over the long-term. It is great for polishing ANY surface!

Even though they may seem like they would work, keep traditional bathroom cleaners away from your cupboards and cabinets. These tile and ceramic cleaning products often contain chemicals that will cause certain wood to deteriorate, even past the surface. This damage could be costly and may even call for a replacement!

Polishing cloth small cloth, huge results.

Everything Has Its Place!

Knowing how to clean cupboards is great, but it is also of use to know where to put your knowledge! Cupboards are used in a variety of settings for a variety of purposes. Depending on where it is, the cupboard may be a mini pantry, bedside fixture, or a handyman’s best friend! These uses may call for you to adjust the way you clean to further accommodate. In some cases, the safety of the items within the cupboard may call for a specific method.

In the Kitchen

Commonly, cupboards are used to store non-perishable foods and spices that are kept out of the fridge. Though these items are packaged or canned, they should still be kept away from chemicals of any kind. When cleaning the interior, be sure to remove these items beforehand. If you are using a polish, remove any excess product and allow it a few hours to dry before organizing your storage again. Be sure that any bottle you store is secure and free of leakage.

The same can be said for areas that house glass or cooking items. You don’t want to expose these things to chemicals either. As mentioned before, also make sure these items are well-dried before they are put back to prevent needless deterioration.

When decorating a home, cupboards are commonly utilized. People often have one used as a display case for fine china, beautiful antiques, and other items of decor. Most people find it safer to keep these areas cautiously dusted rather than doing frequent deep-cleans because these areas take a good amount of organization and care to arrange.

Storage cupboard.
It is often easier to simply lightly dust large storage cupboards used to keep fine luxury items.

What About Degreasers?

However, for areas in your house or apartment susceptible to spills and build-up, good degreasing may be needed. For example, take a look at the Ultra Concentrated Degreaser by Champion Supplies. This all-purpose cleaner can be used safely on virtually any kitchen surface, all while removing harsh build-up and harmful bacteria. Another bonus is that this item won’t end up costing you much, as it’s a concentrate that you dilute with water based on the task. One 32 oz. bottle of this super degreaser can create a staggering 256 gallons of cleaner when mixed with water!

This concentration by Champion Supplies handles other housekeeping tasks, such as removing spots on office chair covers or giving the laundry a better clean. This cannot be said for all degreasers, and this type of product is especially useful for a family with a variety of cleaning situations.

Unparalleled Degreasing Power.

Personal Use Cupboards

There are also some things to keep in mind about cleaning spaces for personal use. For instance, clothes are often stored in room cupboards. Be careful not to create interior scratches with hangers if they are present. When tidying up your closet, be sure that you don’t leave the scent of a strong cleaning agent. Although vinegar is effective, it isn’t exactly renowned for its scent! For these places, it is best to use a cleaning agent you’re comfortable with the scent of.

Along these same lines, you may want to stick to dish soap, water, and a cloth when cleaning a bedside cupboard. These bedroom varieties are the least of your worries when it comes to build-up, with dust being the main thing to adhere to these areas. If you’re looking to keep any form of paper within your cupboard, keeping it as dry as possible will prevent damage to these items. It wouldn’t hurt to allow the cupboard to dry a couple of hours further after you go through drying.

Cupboards For Tools and Equipment

Cupboards aren’t only limited to living spaces! Many mechanics, handymen, and self-proclaimed fixers have cupboards in a garage, for example, that they use to house their tools of choice. Others use them to safely store paint and small yard equipment. Here are some tips to help you figure out how to clean cupboards with more complicated messes:

  • Use a standard sponge for these areas. A sponge does well with the harsher cleaning jobs. Once build-up starts to set in, they wash easily and on the spot with a spare pail of water and can be wrung out. Meanwhile, when a cloth gets very dirty, and it requires a machine washing.
  • For cupboards that come in constant contact with industrial oil and lubricants, your typical sponge and dish soap probably won’t complete the job as effectively as a degreasing solution would. A degreasing product like the Champion Ultra Concentrated Degreaser would be the best bet for cleaning both your tools and storage, where hard gunk tends to accumulate easier
  • Gardening tools and basic yard maintenance equipment tend to bring in dirt and grass residue, but a degreaser still works well. With the degreaser we mentioned before, you’d mix about half a tablespoon of product per gallon of water for cleanups like these.

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A Few Things to Remember

Now you know how to clean cupboards! These tips are very effective when added to an already great housekeeping plan. We learned that many cupboards and cabinets can be cleaned or polished with homemade solutions that use familiar ingredients. Meanwhile, extra-heavy tasks may require a degreaser. And in any case, using care and caution certainly doesn’t hurt!

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