How to Bleach Oak Cabinets

Updated April 13, 2018

The right cabinets can make or break the look of a kitchen. If you've decided your kitchen is looking more "broken" than you'd like, but there isn't money in the budget for a complete overhaul, try bleaching your oak cabinets. Bleaching oak cabinets costs only a few cents per cabinet. Lighter cabinets reflect more light and give a fresh, sunny look to kitchens.

Wash all cabinet surfaces thoroughly with warm water, mild soap that is specifically formulated for cleaning wood or a household cleaner that is free of ammonia or abrasive ingredients and a scrubbing sponge. Be sure to remove all grease and stains to prepare your cabinets to take the bleach solution evenly. Dry them well.

Lay down dust sheets on your counters and floors to protect surfaces from drips of bleach.

Put on your gloves and goggles and pour commercial wood bleach into your bucket. Commercial wood bleach can be found at home centres and hardware stores. You may also make your own solution by mixing one part chlorine bleach with 10 parts water.

Wipe the bleach solution onto one oak cabinet and let it stand for 2 to 5 minutes before wiping it off. The longer you let the solution stay on the cabinet the lighter the wood will become. It is preferable to repeat several short bleaching sessions and gradually lighten the wood to your preference than to allow the solution to work for a long period and over-process your cabinet.

Rinse the cabinet with fresh water and a clean cloth to neutralise the bleaching action. Dry thoroughly.


For best results, complete the entire process on one cabinet at a time and leave the bleach solution on each cabinet for the same amount of time. These tips will help ensure a neat, evenly faded result.


Be aware that household and laundry bleach typically include water and other ingredients. While you can make your own solution from them, it will be weaker and you may need to apply several treatments before you achieve the desired results.

Things You'll Need

  • Mild soap
  • Scrubbing sponge
  • Dust sheets
  • Rubber gloves
  • Goggles
  • Bleach
  • Water
  • Bucket
  • Cleaning cloths
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Jo Burns has been a freelance writer since 1980. She specializes in articles relating to home and garden, alternative health care, travel, writing and crafting. In 2007, Burns received an M.F.A. in creative writing.