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10 Care Tips for Hardwood Cabinets

Nothing adds warmth and beauty to a kitchen like hardwood cabinets. Here are some tips on how to care for them.

1. Finishes vary widely so always read and save manufacturers’ maintenance instructions. For added safety, test a new cleaning solution in an inconspicuous area to make sure it causes no damage.

2. Treat your cabinets as you would fine furniture. Areas around the sink, range, dishwasher, oven and baseboards are the most susceptible to excess moisture, the No. 1 enemy of wood. Wipe up spills and water marks as they occur. Avoid draping damp or wet dish towels over the door of the sink base cabinet. Over time, moisture could cause permanent damage.

3. Dust cabinets regularly with a soft, lint-free cloth. You can dampen the cloth slightly with water. Wipe one small area at a time, drying immediately.

4. For stubborn stains, use a clean cloth dampened with a solution of mild, non-alkaline soap (like dishwashing liquid) and water. Dry thoroughly with a soft cloth and buff lightly, following the direction of the grain. Never use abrasive cleaners, scouring pads or powdered cleansers. Do not allow oven cleaner to touch any part of the cabinet.

kitchencab5. To clean cabinet interiors, simply wipe with a damp cloth or sponge and dry.

6. Clean cabinet windows carefully. Do not spray glass cleaner directly onto glass. Instead, spray a small amount of cleaner onto a lint-free cloth or paper towel, then wipe the glass. Glass cleaners can damage wood finishes and the protective finishes on many brass handles or other hardware.

7. Avoid using harsh metal polishes for pulls and knobs. Most manufacturers recommend using mild soap and warm water to clean cabinet hardware. Dry hardware joints and surfaces and the surrounding area with a clean, soft cloth. Buff the hardware with a clean, dry cloth.

8. Avoid using your dishcloth to clean or dry cabinets. It may contain traces of detergent or grease.

9. Repair damaged finishes carefully. Repairing a damaged finish can be tricky, since cabinet manufacturers may have used several processes and finishing materials. Always try to get a repair kit from your cabinet manufacturer. Failing that, a supplier may offer small cans of color coating or felt-tip pens or putty sticks to match finishes. Follow instructions carefully and always pretest in an inconspicuous spot.

10. For more free information about caring for hardwoods in the kitchen — especially floors, countertops and cutting boards — contact the Hardwood Information Center, at www.hardwoodinfo.com, a service of the Hardwood Manufacturers Association, an industry trade group.

© 2001, Hardwood Manufacturers Association

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