5 Tips for Taking Care of Your Custom Kitchen Cabinets
When you’ve gone to the trouble and expense of having custom cabinetry installed in your kitchen, you want to take good care of your investment. Not all spills, splatters and dings affect finishes the same way. Your cabinet installation company can give you specifics for your type of cabinetry, but here are some care tips that go beyond the occasional wipe down to help ensure that the finish on your cabinets remains unmarred.
Practice Preventative Care. A daily wipe-down with a soft, clean cloth will be enough to remove dust on the exterior surfaces on your cabinets, but there are a few areas that need additional attention. No matter how careful you are, grease and oils released into the air from cooking can build up and eventually leave a gummy layer that attracts and holds onto dust and other particles in the air. This can be avoided by using a solution of warm water with a few drops of mild dish soap before you close your kitchen at the end of the day. Clean from top to bottom, paying special attention to the tops of the cabinet doors, handles and exposed hinges, and then gently wipe them dry with a separate cloth. Any direct grease splatters or splashes of liquid should be tended to immediately. Hardware can be removed and soaked in warm water and mild dish soap once a week, scrubbing with a toothbrush or other small brush to remove any buildup from crevices.
Use the Right Cleaning Aids. Glass-fronted cabinets can be cleaned with either a solution of white vinegar and warm water or a non-ammonia commercial glass cleaner; spray the cleaner directly on a lint-free cloth or paper toweling rather than directly on the glass to avoid damaging any frames or trim around the glass panels. Stainless steel, whether brushed or unfinished, can be cleaned with a damp, non-abrasive cloth and wiped dry. Always clean in the direction of the grain.
Home Cleaning Tips
Materials like melamine or thermafoil are usually constructed of fiberboard or a lower quality wood that’s covered with a thin layer of vinyl (thermafoil) or laminate (melamine). Both finishes can be wiped clean with a damp cloth; just run a dry cloth over them after to remove moisture.
Solid wood cabinets – even if they’re sealed or painted – are still vulnerable to staining and moisture damage. Most can be kept clean with a soft, dry cloth. Grease or food splatters require a cloth dampened with a little warm water and mild dish soap; blot dry immediately.
Never use corrosives or cleaning products made with harsh detergents. All surfaces should be cleaned and dried with non-abrasive cloth that’s used only for your cabinets. Sponges or dish cloths may contain food residue and grease.
Polish Surfaces. Wood can be polished using a mixture of olive oil with a little lemon juice or a commercial spray that doesn’t contain waxes or silicone, which can leave a dust-attracting film. Stainless can be polished using a commercial product that’s made especially for that material. Surfaces other than wood or stainless steel usually don’t need polishing.
Take Care of Scratches and Nicks. Minor scratches can be buffed out with a soft, dry cloth and a little elbow grease. There are also repair kits available for specific cabinet materials in local hardware and furniture stores. Deep nicks, dents and scratches require surface refinishing regardless of their material.
Protect Cabinets From the Elements. Most cabinets can stand up to ordinary kitchen temperatures. However, if you have a self-cleaning oven, remove the cabinet doors closest to your stove to avoid warping from the excessive heat. Never drape damp cloths over your cabinets or on their handles, and dry any moisture from cleaning, splashes or condensation immediately. Wood, laminate and thermafoil cabinets should be shielded from exposure to direct sunlight and UV rays.
High-quality kitchen cabinetry is made to stand up to years of use with proper care. However, if your surfaces are beyond the help of basic cleaning and maintenance, look for a company that provides kitchen cabinet refinishing homeowners trust. If you know the original company that built and/or installed your cabinets, that’s your best bet. Otherwise, you can find a reliable artisan in local listings or through referrals from satisfied customers.
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