General Question

jca's avatar

How can I get built-up old grease off of wooden kitchen cabinets?

Asked by jca (28491 points ) January 22nd, 2012

A good friend of mine just got a divorce, and moved back into the house that she owned with her husband. When she left him, he remained in the house, not maintaining it or cleaning it. Now that she is back in, she wants to get the house in order. It’s in such bad condition it’s kind of depressing.

I figured to try to help her in one little affordable way, I would try to paint her kitchen cabinets, since she can’t afford new ones right now. The problem is, the cabinets have old heavy duty grease on them. Once I get the grease off, I can remove the hardware and paint them.

How can I clean the old, heavy duty grease off the wood kitchen cabinets to prepare them for painting?

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10 Answers

john65pennington's avatar

Spic and Span in the box is very good for this type of cleaning.

It comes in a box of granuales. You can use what is necesarry to complete the job.

Buttonstc's avatar

Non sudsing Trisodium Phosphate.

Cheap, effective for large areas. Available at Home Depot, etc.

Professional house painters use it to prepare walls and other surfaces all the time.

gasman's avatar

Try hand-cleaner—the jelly-like goo that mechanics use to remove grease from their hands. It’s highly lipophilic and might loosen or remove most of the coating. Then use conventional cleaners to remove remaining residue.

bkcunningham's avatar

If it is really bad, try mineral spirits.

zigmund's avatar

Ammonia. Cheapest solution and very effective. Dilute with equal parts water and get one of those big car wash dollar store sponges. Cuts right through. Also there is something mentally cleansing about dousing every surface with noxious fumes. Gets the spirit of him out.

majorrich's avatar

goo-gone is pretty good, or any cleaner containing Limonine. Another option that i’ve not tried it to use Goop, which is intended to remove grease from hands but it might work on delicate woods you don’t wish to dry out or damage the finish.

linguaphile's avatar

Magic Erasers work WONDERS, even on grease.

2davidc8's avatar

I agree with @zigmund. Parson’s Ammonia. A 50–50 (or even more dilute) solution will dissolve the grease easily. Cheap and easy. The stuff smells terrible, but it doesn’t linger. Do open the windows when you use it.

SpatzieLover's avatar

I agree whole-heartily with @Buttonstc. I had this issue when moving into my home @jca and have had it in the past with rentals.

Use the TSP, with the hottest water you can stand. On our home cabinets there was so much grease build up we had to use SOS pads to help remove the top layer. The baseboards, and the floor also needed the grease removed (there, I used boiling water straight from the tea kettle to begin to loosen it).

TSP is what our painters use prior to re-painting rental unit kitchens. It gets the job done quickly.

As for the rest of the home, if it’s seriously filthy, hot water goes a long way to helping get dirt build up removed. TSP works great in the bathroom, in the dishwaher-etc. A little goes a long way.

lynfromnm's avatar

I find that a solution of white vinegar in water (¼ cup vinegar in a standard spray bottle, fill the rest with water) works very well on grease.

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