How To

To clean a kitchen cabinet of grease, find out what products are recommended

By Jeanne Huber
Special to The Washington Post
Thursday, June 10, 2010

Q My kitchen cabinets have a sticky feel above the microwave vents. I've tried washing them off with many products. I don't use the stove or microwave often, so it surprises me how sticky it gets above the microwave. What is the best way to remove this grease film?


A Cabinet manufacturers use many types of finishes, so a cleaning product that might work well on one brand might strip away or dull the finish of another. To learn what finish is on your cabinets and what cleaner to use, check with the manufacturer.

If you don't know the company, look on the inside of the sink base cabinet. Companies that are members of the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association typically place a seal from the organization there. It should include a code that you can then link to the manufacturer by going to the organization's Web site, Click on "visitors and homeowners."

In general, according to a technical sheet prepared by the Sherwin-Williams paint and finishes company, solvent-based cleaners should be used on cabinets coated with standard lacquer or a penetrating oil. If there is a catalyzed finish, you can probably use either water- or solvent-based cleaners. If you aren't sure what category a cleaner fits under, check the label; solvent-based cleaners typically say "flammable."

Reading labels can head off other potential problems. Even though solvent-based cleaners usually work well on non-catalyzed finishes, a cleaner that contains lemon oil may still damage the finish. If you use a cleaner that contains silicone and eventually decide to refinish the cabinets, the new coat of finish might not stick.

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