How to whitewash kitchen cabinets

Updated February 21, 2017

If you don't have the money to refinish your kitchen cabinets, whitewashing is a less expensive option. Whitewashing is as simple as painting and scrubbing. It creates a unique, weathered appearance that can complement pickled furniture or trim. Depending on the colour selected, whitewashing can take on either a country or a southwestern look. Slate blues, olive greens and brick reds are pleasing colours for whitewashing kitchen cabinets.

Remove cabinet drawers and doors with a screwdriver. Remove door latches, handles and cabinet pulls.

Scrub drawers and cabinet facings with a mixture of TSP and water. The TSP will help remove any grease and clean the cabinets. Allow the cabinets to dry, then paint them with white stain. The stain will allow the wood's natural grain to show through somewhat, giving the paint a faded effect similar to that of pickling or bleaching. Allow the stain to dry thoroughly before roughing up the cabinet door surface with fine-grit sandpaper.

Clean the cabinet facings with TSP and stain them white as well. Allow all paint to dry thoroughly and rough up the surface with sandpaper.

Paint cabinets and door and drawer facings with a complementary colour of paint. Allow paint to dry thoroughly.

Choose the colour of whitewash that you want to paint your cabinets and cabinet doors. You can choose to leave your whitewash white, or tint it with a pigment to make it seem more aged. Charcoal will make whitewash grey, while dry-shake pigments will make it yellow.

Paint cabinet facings, door and drawer fronts with whitewash. Allow whitewash to dry thoroughly.

Soak a rag in denatured alcohol and rub it against the wood of the cabinets, drawer and doors. The harder you rub, the more whitewash will scrub off, revealing the paint colour underneath. If you remove too much paint, you can wait for the remaining paint to dry and repaint the cabinets.

Wait until the paint dries. Reattach the cabinet drawer fronts and cabinet doors to the cabinets. Then attach the drawer pulls and door handles, or replace them with new ones.


Always wear protective clothing, safety goggles and a mask to protect yourself from fumes when working with stain and paint.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • TSP cleaner
  • White stain
  • Fine-grit sandpaper
  • Paint in a complementary colour
  • Whitewash paint
  • Pigments
  • Denatured alcohol
  • Brushes
  • Cleaning cloths
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About the Author

Tracy Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Arkansas.