Tips for Cleaning Food Grease From Wood Cabinets

person cleaning cabinets

​The Spruce / Ana Cadena

Greasy grime stuck to cabinets is one of the hardest cleaning chores there is, and the problem is almost inevitable in kitchen environments. Especially if you prefer non-toxic cleaners, it can seem that nothing will work to budge the muck. 

There are a number of natural, home-spun cleaning solutions that are supposed to clean grease from cabinets, but some options should be avoided.


Click Play to Learn How to Clean Food Grease From Wood Cabinets

Effective Ways to Clean Grease From Cabinets

There are some very effective ways to remove greasy soil from cabinets: 

  • Goo Gone: Make sure to wear rubber gloves, then apply commercial Goo Gone cleaner over the grease and let it sit for a minute or two. Heat a damp micro cloth in a microwave for 35 seconds, then use it to quickly wipe away the grease layer. Finally, clean the area with a mild wood soap and water, then dry completely. 
  • All-purpose orange oil cleaner: If your cabinets are really grimy, let the cleaner sit for up to 10 minutes after spraying. Afterward, wipe the cleaner off using a warm, damp micro-cloth.
  • A wood cleaner containing Brazilian carnauba wax: Carnauba wax is an ingredient that's typically found in high-quality wood cleaners and polishes. One excellent product, called Magic Cabinet & Wood Cleaner, is a spray pump application. 
  • Hot water and dish soap: Dish soap is an alkaline-based product that effectively cuts through grease, especially when mixed in hot water. Mix a squirt or two of grease-cutting dish soap into a bucket of very hot water (as hot as you can stand), and use a nylon scouring pad to attack cabinet grease. Keep the water hot, and use light pressure on the nylon pad to avoid scratching the surface. Rinse and dry the cabinets when done. 
cleaning solvents for wooden cabinets
The Spruce / Ana Cadena

Methods to Avoid

Beware of these products that do not really work and may even harm your cabinets:

  • Olive oil and baking soda: This popular online remedy proved to be worse than useless in our tests. Olive oil is a non-drying oil that will remain soft on your cabinets, where it will attract dust and eventually spoil. According to woodworking experts, only drying oils, such as orange, walnut, and linseed oil should be used to clean wood. When these oils dry, they form a hard protective layer on the wood.  
  • Vinegar: Although vinegar is a fantastic natural disinfectant, it's also an acid. If used undiluted or mixed with water, it can ruin a wood's finish on contact.
olive oil and baking soda
​The Spruce / Ana Cadena 

Removing Pen Marks and Other Stubborn Food Stains

You can use a Magic Eraser or household baking soda to remove stubborn pen marks, paint splotches, or rock-hard food splatters from wood cabinets. But remember that both are abrasives, so you'll need to work carefully in order to remove only the stain and not the wood finish. 

With a Magic Eraser (the more abrasive product), make sure to test on a small hidden spot first, especially on dark-stained wood. 

To use baking soda, mix two parts baking soda with one part water. Apply the paste to the stain and rub gently until it is gone.

cleaning a cabinet with a cloth
​The Spruce / Ana Cadena