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Tips to Clean Your Kitchen’s Vintage Cabinet Set

If you love vintage cabinets for your kitchen, you should also know how to clean and maintain them. When you know the best ways to clean any antique or vintage cabinets, you will easily be able to prevent irreparable damage reducing your investment’s value.

vintage cabinet

How to Clean Your Vintage Cabinets?

Before you jump in to clean your antique or vintage cabinet set in the kitchen, you should know the type of finish. You can decide on the wood finish with an easy and quick test. Select a spot on the side of the cabinet, preferably along the bottom that is not easily noticeable.

Supplies You Need for Vintage White Cabinets

  • 100% cotton swab
  • Denatured alcohol

Instructions to Follow

  • Take the cotton swab and then dip in it the denatured alcohol
  • The finish will either remain the same or dissolve

In case the wood finish dissolves in alcohol, then it is most likely the shellac finish. So, it might be difficult to clean beyond regular cleaning. In a majority of cases, vintage kitchen cabinets have to be refinished for restoring their beauty.

The Best Methods to Clean Vintage Cabinets

You have the option to use little warm water and oil soap for removing grime and dirt. You have to use two cotton swabs or rags. One cloth is to clean and the other is to dry.

1.Things You are Going to Need

  • Oil soap
  • Small bowl
  • Two cotton swabs or rags
  • Fork
  • Measuring cup
  • Rubber gloves


  • Put on a pair of rubber gloves
  • Pour an ounce of oil soap and add six ounces of water
  • Mix it using a fork
  • Gently press a soft and a dry cloth into the bowl
  • Take the cloth and wring out the excess liquid from it
  • Move the cloth in a circular motion and make sure it’s in the grain of the wood
  • Once you have worked the vintage cabinet’s surface, use dry cloth for wiping away moisture
  • Rub the wood gently in a small circular motion ensuring that you can get all moisture out.
  • When you have gone over the cabinets, in case the wood is damp, use a dry clean cloth to remove the remaining moisture.

Wax Application can Help

You can either leave the cabinets in their cleaned status or apply wax to provide an additional layer of protection. When you have applied wax, you are going to require a soft cloth to buff it by moving along the wood grain in a small circular motion.

Cleaning Mildew on Vintage Cabinets

Whenever you work with particulates, which can get into your lungs, airways, and eyes you have to work with protective gear. It is true when you clean the mildew of antique cabinets or RTA cabinets. Some mildew can be handled with warm water and dish soap. More stubborn mildew might require something like white vinegar.

Here are the things that you are going to need.

  • Air mask
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Rubber gloves
  • Goggles
  • Linseed oil, vegetable oil, or olive oil
  • 3-4 soft cotton balls
  • Fork or whisk
  • Small bowl

To clean the vintage or RTA kitchen cabinets, you will have to follow the steps given below.

  1. Clean the cabinets with a soft cloth for removing superficial debris and dust.
  2. Combine vinegar and oil in a 1:1 ratio in a bowl and whisk it with a fork or whisk.
  3. Dip a small part of the cloth into the mixture and apply it on the wood along the wood grain in a circular motion.
  4. Wipe off the loosened mildew and the residue using a clean dry cloth.

Bottom Line

A common mistake that people tend to make while cleaning vintage cabinets is to use water and soap. It can spoil the wooden surface.

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