How to Clean Wood Cabinets Before Painting

Are you planning on painting your wood cabinets soon? Before you start painting, it’s important to make sure that your cabinets are clean and free of any dirt, grease, or grime.

How to Clean Wood Cabinets Before Painting

Proper cleaning will make sure that the paint adheres properly and that the end result is smooth and even. In this blog post, we’ll share with you some tips on how to clean wood cabinets before painting.

Can You Clean Wood Cabinets Before Painting?

When painting your wood cabinets, it is important to ensure that they are clean and free of any dust or debris. This step is crucial for achieving a smooth and even finish. However, some may wonder whether it is necessary to clean wood cabinets before painting them.

The answer is a resounding yes. Dirt and grime can affect the adhesion of the paint, causing it to peel and flake over time. So, be sure to give your wood cabinets a thorough cleaning before beginning your painting project. A little extra effort in the beginning can save you a lot of frustration down the road.

Why Should You Clean Wood Cabinets Before Painting?

If you’re planning to give your kitchen a refreshed look, painting your wood cabinets may be one of the easiest ways to do so. However, before you even think about picking up a paintbrush, it’s critical to ensure that your cabinets are appropriately cleaned.

Dirt and grime accumulated over time create a barrier between your cabinets and the paint, which can cause bubbling and premature chipping. By taking the time to clean your cabinets thoroughly, you’ll be able to guarantee that your fresh coat of paint will adhere smoothly and your cabinets will look like a dream.

Plus, you’ll be doing yourself a massive favor by avoiding having to redo the painting process soon. Ultimately, thoroughly clean cabinets will help ensure a long-lasting, beautiful finish that will be the envy of all your house guests.

7 Tips on How to Clean Wood Cabinets Before Painting

1. Remove All the Cabinet Doors and Drawers

Removing All the Cabinet Doors

Start by removing all the cabinet doors and drawers. This will make it easier for you to clean all parts of the cabinets and ensure that you don’t miss any spots. Use a labeled Ziploc bag to store the screws and handles for each cabinet door and drawer so you don’t lose anything.

2. Use a Mild Detergent

Use mild detergent and warm water to clean the cabinets. Add a few drops of dish soap or your preferred cleaning solution to a small bucket of warm water. Dip your sponge or cloth in the cleaning solution and wring it out well. Use this to clean the cabinet surfaces, getting into the corners and edges. Avoid using abrasive sponges or scrubbers that might damage the wood surface.

3. Remove Any Grease and Grime

Grease and grime can accumulate on cabinets over time, especially in the kitchen. To remove these, use a cleaner specifically designed for grease and grime. You can find this at most home improvement or hardware stores. Apply the cleaner to a sponge and use it to gently scrub the cabinets. Be sure to rinse the cabinet surfaces thoroughly with clean water once you’re done.

4. Sand the Surfaces

After cleaning, sanding the cabinets will ensure that rough spots are smoothed out before you paint. Use fine-grit sandpaper (such as 220 grit) to sand the surfaces of the cabinets. Sand toward the wood grain, and wipe away any dust with a clean cloth once you’re done. This will also help the paint adhere better to the wood.

5. Fill in Any Holes or Cracks

If you notice any holes or cracks in the wood after sanding, use a wood filler to fill them in. Allow the filler to dry completely before sanding it down and wiping away any excess with a clean cloth. This step is important for achieving a smooth and even finish.

6. Wipe Down with TSP

TSP (trisodium phosphate) is a strong cleaner that can remove any remaining residue from the cabinets. It’s important to use gloves when handling TSP and to follow the instructions on the packaging carefully. Use a sponge or cloth to apply the TSP solution to the cabinets, then rinse thoroughly with clean water. This step will also help the paint adhere better to the wood.

7. Allow Cabinets to Dry Completely

Once you’ve completed all of the above steps, allow your cabinets to dry completely before painting. This may take a few hours, so be patient and ensure adequate ventilation in the room where you’re working. Once dry, your cabinets are ready to be painted with a fresh coat of paint!

Painted With a Fresh Coat of Paint

Now that you know how to clean wood cabinets before painting, you can confidently tackle this project and achieve professional-looking results. Always work in a well-ventilated area and wear gloves and protective eyewear when handling cleaning products. With these tips, your cabinets will be clean, smooth, and ready for a fresh coat of paint.

5 Considerations Things When You Need to Clean Wood Cabinets Before Painting

1. Prepare the Work Area

Before you begin painting, it is important to prepare the work area. Make sure that the room is well-ventilated and that you have all of the necessary supplies, such as drop cloths, sandpaper, paint brushes, and primer. Additionally, cover any furniture or flooring in the room with a drop cloth to protect them from paint splatters.

2. Clean the Cabinets

Once the work area is prepared, it’s time to clean the cabinets. Start by wiping down all surfaces with a damp rag and mild detergent solution. This will help remove any dirt or dust accumulated on the cabinets over time. Once they are wiped down, use a soft-bristled brush to scrub away any stubborn dirt or grease spots. Finally, dry off all surfaces with a clean cloth before moving on to the next step.

3. Sand Away Imperfections

Once your cabinets are clean and dry, use sandpaper to smooth out any imperfections in the wood surface. This will help create a more even surface for painting and will also help ensure that your paint job lasts longer. Be sure to use fine-grit sandpaper so as not to damage the wood too much, and always wear protective gear when sanding down wood surfaces.

4. Apply Primer

 It's Time to Apply Primer

After sanding down your cabinets, it’s time to apply primer. Primer helps prepare the surface of your cabinet for painting by providing an even base coat for your paint color to stick onto better and last longer without chipping or fading over time. When applying primer, be sure not to miss any corners or crevices, as this could cause uneven coverage when you go to paint later on in the process.

5. Paint!

Finally, after prepping your cabinets with cleaning and priming steps, it’s time for painting! Start by selecting a high-quality paint color that matches your desired look for your kitchen space—and don’t forget about picking up some painter’s tape if needed!

When you’re ready to start painting, make sure you use slow strokes and overlapping motions so that each layer of paint adheres properly without leaving streaks behind—it may take multiple coats depending on how dark or light you want your finished product!

5 Benefits of Clean Wood Cabinets Before Painting

1. Preparing the Surface

Cleaning With Mild Detergent and Water

Before painting wood cabinets, it is important to properly prepare the surface. This involves cleaning the cabinets with mild detergent and water, sanding any rough spots, and filling any holes or cracks with wood filler. Doing this will help ensure that the paint adheres to the surface and provides a smooth finish.

2. Removing Grease and Grime

Wood cabinets can accumulate grease and grime over time, making it difficult for paint to adhere properly. Cleaning your cabinets before painting will remove any buildup of dirt, dust, or grease so that your paint job looks its best.

3. Applying Primer

Applying primer before painting your wood cabinets is essential to create a strong bond between the paint and the surface of the cabinet. Primer helps seal in moisture and fill in any minor imperfections on the surface of the cabinet, making it easier for you to achieve an even finish when painting.

4. Protecting Against Moisture Damage

Cleaning your wood cabinets before painting will also help protect them from moisture damage caused by steam or water splashing onto them while cooking or washing dishes. Applying a coat of sealant after painting will further protect your cabinets from moisture damage by creating a barrier between them and any liquids that may come into contact with them.

5. Creating a Professional Finish

Finally, cleaning wood cabinets before painting will help create a professional finish that looks great for years to come! Taking these extra steps will ensure that your painted cabinets look their best long after they have been applied, making all of your hard work worthwhile!

6 Common Mistakes People Make When Trying to Clean Wood Cabinets Before Painting

1. Not Cleaning the Cabinets Thoroughly

One of the most common mistakes people make when cleaning wood cabinets before painting is not cleaning them thoroughly enough. It’s important to make sure all dirt, dust, and grease are removed from the cabinets before painting. This can be done by using a damp cloth and some mild dish soap to scrub the cabinets. If any tough spots need extra attention, use a small brush or steel wool to remove them.

2. Not Sanding the Cabinets

 Dust With a Damp Cloth

Another mistake people make is not sanding the cabinets before painting them. Sanding will help rough up the surface of the cabinet so that the paint will adhere better and last longer. It’s important to use fine-grit sandpaper for this process to not damage the wood too much. Once you’ve finished sanding, wipe away any dust with a damp cloth before painting.

3. Applying Too Much Paint

Applying too much paint is another common mistake when prepping wood cabinets for painting. Applying multiple coats of paint can cause drips and runs, which can ruin your project and take time away from your work day. To avoid this, use light coats of paint and allow each one to dry completely before applying additional coats if needed.

4. Not Priming First

Not priming first is another mistake people often make when prepping wood cabinets for painting. Primer helps seal in stains and provides a smooth base for your topcoat of paint, making it easier to achieve an even finish without brush strokes or drips showing through in your final product. Make sure you choose an appropriate primer for your project; oil-based primer works best on bare wood, while latex primer works better on previously painted surfaces or glossy surfaces such as melamine or laminate cabinets.

5. Not Removing Old Hardware

A fifth mistake people often make when cleaning wood cabinets before painting is forgetting to remove the old hardware, such as hinges, knobs, and handles, before beginning their project. Taking these items off will give you a smoother surface area with which to work; otherwise, you risk having these items show through your final coat of paint once everything has been put back together again after drying time has passed.

6. Using Low Quality Paint

Finally, using low-quality paint is another mistake people often make when cleaning wood cabinets before painting them. While it may be tempting to go with a cheaper brand of paint to save money upfront, this could cost you more in terms of time spent fixing mistakes caused by poor coverage due to low-quality products or chipping/peeling due to inferior ingredients used in the manufacturing process. Investing in higher-quality paints will ensure that you have fewer issues down the line and help create a long-lasting finish that you’ll be proud of!


Cleaning your wood cabinets properly before painting will help ensure a smooth and even paint application. Remember to remove all the cabinet doors and drawers first, use a mild detergent, remove any grease and grime, sand the surfaces, and let the cabinets dry completely. These simple steps will set you up for success and give you great-looking painted cabinets. Thanks for reading our post about how to clean wood cabinets before painting, and happy painting!

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