How do I clean grease from wooden kitchen cupboards?

Updated February 21, 2017

Kitchen cupboards are prime candidates for greasiness. Wooden cabinets even more so, because typically they have moulding or detailing, which provides nooks and crannies for grease to build up. While grease cleaning may prove problematic on unfinished wood cabinets, most wooden kitchen cabinets are lacquer-finished or varnished with polyurethane. Cleaning up the grease on these finishes is simple.

Wipe over all the cupboards with a soft cloth or paper towel. This removes the excess grease and dust on the surface. In most cases a dry clean like this will remove the majority of grease and only the greasy film will need removing with water and detergent.

Mix a solution of warm water and mild detergent. Use a nylon scourer or sponge to apply the detergent mixture to the greasy cupboards and scrub with the grain of the wood. Don't scrub too hard---the grease will come off without harsh scrubbing and you don't want to damage the finish.

Clean in the crevices of moulding or decoration with the toothbrush. For persistent greasiness and for cleaning the cupboard hardware, mix a paste of baking soda and lemon juice or vinegar. Apply this with the toothbrush on handles, hinges or very greasy patches.

Rinse the cupboards with clean warm water and check that the grease is gone by running a clean, dry finger over the surface. If not, reapply more soapy water and wash again. Dry the cupboards immediately with a clean soft cloth or paper towel. Leaving water sitting on any wooden surface can damage the finish.


For those rare cases when an oil finish is on the kitchen cupboards, use water sparingly and dry every cupboard immediately after cleaning. Reapply an oil finish after cleaning to protect the wood. If the finish on your cupboards is cracked, warped or otherwise damaged, you may want to consider refinishing them instead of just cleaning.

Things You'll Need

  • Soft cloth/paper towel
  • Mild detergent
  • Nylon scourer/sponge
  • Toothbrush
  • Baking soda
  • Lemon juice/vinegar
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About the Author

B.T. Alo is media director, chief writer and editor for a U.S.-based marketing and consulting firm. He holds a bachelor's degree in business and communications. Alo's interests include business, investments, electronics, personal finance, health, communication, popular trends and travel.