How to Restore Old Kitchen Cabinets

Updated April 17, 2017

Restoring old kitchen cabinets is an easy do-it-yourself job. Over time, cabinets can become grimy with grease from cooking and dirt from hands. If the cabinets are wood or laminate, a simple washing may restore them to their original beauty. If the cabinets have been in use for an extended time, they probably are worn and need to be restored. It's easy to restore aged cabinets if you use the correct tools. A piece of sandpaper and a bottle of wood oil will often do the trick.

Remove all hardware from the doors using a screwdriver.Take the hinges off the doors and carefully place the doors on a dropcloth or tarp. Place the hardware in a bucket with warm soapy water. Soak the hardware for about an hour and then scrub it with a soft bristle brush. Rinse and dry thoroughly.

Wash the cabinet doors. Fill a bucket with warm soapy water and scrub the doors with a rag or dish towel. Use dish washing liquid soap with bleach for the best cleaning power. Scrub off excess grease and grime with a soft bristle brush. Dry the cabinet doors with a clean, dry cloth.

Sand damaged areas.Gently rub away any scratches on the wood with fine-grit sandpaper. Brush off excess dust with a dry cloth. Rub in wood oil with citrus elements using a dry cloth.

Wipe off the cabinet surface while the doors are unattached. Use warm soapy water as you did with the cabinet doors. Scrub with a dish towel or rag. Dry thoroughly to prevent streaking. Reattach hardware to the doors and rehang them securely. If you are going to paint the cabinets, skip to the next step.

Paint the cabinets if necessary. If your cabinets were painted previously, scrape off any chipped paint using a scraper. Follow the manufacturer's instructions and paint the cabinet doors before reattaching the hardware. Allow the paint to dry thoroughly and reattach hardware using a drill.


For cabinets with glass inserts, wash thoroughly with warm soapy water and then again with a glass surface cleaner.Avoid getting wood oil on glass inserts.

Things You'll Need

  • Household detergent
  • Screwdriver
  • Drill
  • Sandpaper
  • Rag
  • Cloth
  • Bucket
  • Soft bristle brush
  • Wood oil
  • Paint
  • Scraper
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About the Author

Residing in Morgantown, W.Va., Heather Preston began writing professionally in 2010. Her work has been published on Web sites such as eHow and She holds a Bachelor of Science in design and advertising from West Virginia University and is currently attending Fairmont State University as a graduate student in the Master of Business Administration program.