How To Clean Grimy Kitchen Cabinets With 2 Ingredients

Kitchen Cabinet Gunk Remover

I’ve written in the past here on my blog about the concept of cleaning greasy kitchen oil splatters using….wait for it…..oil! As contradictory and crazy as that sounds, it really works!

Read More: Cleaning Kitchen Oil Splatters… Fight Oil With Oil!

So when I came across this cleaning idea from Melissa at No. 2 Pencil for cleaning kitchen “gunk” with vegetable oil and baking soda, it made perfect sense to me! I eagerly decided to give it a try it on my “gunky” kitchen cabinets!

Kitchen Cabinet Gunk Remover

Author’s Note: I took these photos a few years ago, before we did our mini-makeover on our kitchen cabinets and counters. I’ve used this same method on many cabinets since then, and it always works like a charm. We’ve been unable to take photos that capture the transformation quite as well as these photos do, so hopefully you’ll forgive the use of a few less-than-quality photos for today. :-)

When we took these photos, my cabinets were long overdue for a good cleaning. A considerable layer of grime had been accumulating on them that I hadn’t even noticed! Especially near the handles where grimy hands were touching them over and over. It was time to mix up a batch of this stuff and give it a go!

Related: 7 Of The Best Home Cleaning Hacks You’ll Ever Try

Kitchen Cabinet Gunk Remover

Kitchen Cabinet Gunk Remover


Kitchen Cabinet Gunk Remover


Mix 1 part coconut oil with 2 parts baking soda in a small bowl.

Kitchen Cabinet Gunk Remover

Apply the mixture to your cabinets with a cloth or sponge, or as I like to do, use your hands. I think it’s easier to work it into all the nooks and crannies this way.

Kitchen Cabinet Gunk Remover

For the grooves that are harder to reach with my fingers, I like to use an old toothbrush.

Kitchen Cabinet Gunk Remover

Here is a picture of one grimy door handle area done, and one NOT done. Pretty impressive huh!?

Kitchen Cabinet Gunk Remover

It was pretty amazing (and kind of disgusting) to see all the dirt that came off with the gunk remover.

Kitchen Cabinet Gunk Remover

Looking GOOD!

Read This Next

Jill Nystul Photo

Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


Homekeeping Tips

  • Using oil to clean in the kitchen goes along with what my mom taught me: ‘Like Cleans Like.’ Or, if you have a stain on something, often applying a little of the offender will reactivate the stain and make it easier to remove. Sort of like homeopathic medicine huh? lol

  • Just reading how to clean your kitchen cabinets and just loving your suggestion!
    Have you ever run your hand under the opening of your dishwasher!!!? How much gunk and grimy build up there is ?? It gets really discussing.. I just take a soft scoring sponge and do a little scrub to remove the soap build up…..

  • Would cooking oil or maybe even a generic brand of shortening work for this? If something less precious could be substituted, I would much prefer using that as opposed to my coconut oil. I am wondering if there was a reason it might work better than other options? I have a LOT of cabinets!

  • I have a wood dining table and chairs. Some of the chairs were set in an attic-type room, uncovered, until recently discovered by a relative. Obviously, they’re covered with a layer of… oily dust(?) Do you have a cleaner for something like this? It’s a big job for this recipe, but I’ll try it.

  • Yeah, I love baking soda it gives me a good result. But I am also using lemon. I like how lemon works on dirt while taking care of the material.

  • I have a horrible greasy stain on my ceiling above the stove. Do you think this would work on a non-wood surface? It’s also a textured ceiling. Any ideas on how to clean this? I read a post that suggested using a mop which seems crazy to me.

    • For that greasy stain on your kitchen ceiling, I suggest calling a painter and ask his or her advice. Perhaps you need your ceiling repainted and the painter can suggest a way to remove that greasy stain prior to having the ceiling painted. To wash a ceiling, especially one that is rough or texured is nigh to impossible.

    • If the ceiling has knockdown texture and is painted with a semi-gloss or gloss paint, mix 50/50 water and fabric softener. Spray and wipe. I used this combo on my rental house that had a heavy smoker living it in. The walls were yellow and this worked wonders!

  • For years I have used washing soda dissolved into a paste with warm water. It works like a charm and is non abrasive to the finish on cabinets. I also use the soda dissolved in water in the sink to clean glassware that may have a film of grease from being on top of cabinets. Beware it softens the water so it makes everything slippery !

  • Hi Jillee,
    I’ve watched your post on cleaning kitchen cabinets. I wonder if I could use the same solutions on other wood surface.
    I have a teak wood dining table. But it looks kind of old n dry. Does this solutions work same or do you have any tips on how to make a teak wood shine and “breatheable” . Thank you.

      • FYI I love The Victorian House Products. The Rejuvenator is a miracle for wood. Just cleaned my entire kitchen in 3 hours. Its work but well worth the effort.

    • Try Murphy’s oil soap, diluted according to manufacture directions. If you want it shiny, like a wax, after its completely dry, then use a beeswax to protect the wood. Amish Hills makes a great beeswax spray. I clean houses and use these products all the time. Both products have multiple uses.

  • Thank you for your advise. I use only one part of vinegar and one part of oil to clean all the doors and funisures, inclusive I clean de varanda table and chairs, and the black steel parts of then. They look amazing as new

  • Love this tip, Jillee. I’ve linked you into an article I’m publishing next week. It is a simplified Pantry Challenge for Beginners–but my cupboards are a painted surface, so your idea on cleaning those wooden cupboard doors is great. So I had to make sure my readers who have those kind of cupboards can access your advice on cleaning them. And I love ideas that are easy and use only a few basic ingredients. Keep up the great work!

  • i cannot figure out how to pin on your site anymore. my computer went out on me about 3 wks. ago & now that i have another one alot of things have changed. i would really like to save it for later.

  • This actually makes perfect sense, I think a lot of the commercial cleaners have oil ingredients like Pledge is lemon oil and then there’s Murphy’s oil soap, both of which I have used with good results. I always am a fan of homemade more natural type cleaners. The long list of ingredients on some commercial cleaners makes me shudder. I try to use Vinegar for like 90 percent of my cleaning.

    • I’ve just been cleaning my own painted cupboards this week–just ordinary hot water and dish soap worked fine on them. Mine is original 1949 painted cupboards too. Green outside, and orange on the inside. I can see how Jillee’s recipe here would work on the wooden cupboard finishes, but if your paint is a washable surface, just wash. However, if you want to do this, just test on the backside of a door on a not used often cupboard to ensure your paint is color fast before doing them all.

  • Thank you Jillee!!! I started spring cleaning my kitchen today, and just had seen this post. I tried it and love it. I always use baking soda to clean my stovetop, but had never tried the added oil. I was able to do four cupboard doors and my rangehood! Wow, I didn’t realize how much grime was on everything. It attacked the grime with ease! The rangehood was more of a struggle, but it has not been this white since the day I moved in! I am looking forward to finishing the rest of the cupboard doors. Who would of thought the added oil would make my life easier!? Thanks Jillee, you are awesome!

  • The best wood cleaner & restorer I’ve ever made was using 1:1 vinegar & olive oil. Our cabinets were about 30 years old with dull stripping on them, they looked really horrible. I mixed it up & rubbed it on in a circular motion and my ancient cabinet fronts looked like they just came off the showroom floor.. Really!! Its been about 3 or 4 years since I did it last and I plan to do them again soon… just to give them a good clean & oil the wood. Try it on a piece of wood that is really ugly and nothing is gonna save it.. This just might.
    Kim :)

  • I gotta say, this stuff worked beautifully. We really need to redo the kitchen and the cabinets were the worst. My husband bought our house in 2002 and I didn’t even meet him until 2009. When I moved in to his house I was moving into a bachelor pad. He “says” he clean the cabinets a couple of times but I’m skeptical. So you can imagine the dirt, grease and grime on them.

    Only problem was, the cabinets were installed when the house was built in 1984. So the finish came off with the grime in a lot of places making them look even worse! Solution: I got out the olive oil and a cloth and proceeded to oil down all my cabinets. My gosh! It looked like we refinished them (almost lol).

    Now I had a lot of grime on the back wall above the stove. The cabinet solution worked like a charm. Also on the hood.

    Sometimes the simplest things are the very best.

    • But doesn’t the olive oil leave a film? My cabinets have a shellac type finish and I”m afraid using this method would maybe take some of it off. I also have some of the shellac around the cupboard handle off. Any solution to that? Thank you.

  • I’ll concur with the prevailing question- how do you get it off? (Or do you?)

    Do you: rub it in and let it fall off? Wipe it off? If so, with a cloth or paper towel? Dry or damp?

    Can it be used on cabinet hardware? On painted cabinets? On shiny finishes? Can you use this method on other woodwork such as door jambs?

    • Yes, rub it in and let it fall off, then wipe with a moist cloth or paper towel. Yes, it can be used on hardware. I haven’t tried it on painted cabinets or ones with “shiny finishes,” but I’m sure it work just fine! Just be sure to try an inconspicuous area first. :-)

  • I just tried this on a black scuff mark on my wood floor. (These marks are the bane of my existence, hard to remove without janitorial type cleaners, which of course strip the finish too). I made the paste, rubbed it on with a white terry rag, and let it sit for five minutes while I checked this post to see if I’d forgotten anything. Scrubbed the paste off with another part of the terry rag.

    The stain isn’t gone but it definitely is reduced. The surrounding finish is also lighter, but not as badly as with the heavy-duty cleaners. I figure a couple more applications should do the trick, then perhaps linseed oil to fix the finish.

    The stains have been there a while; this would be easier if I was keeping on top of it.

  • Hmmmm . . .my kitchen cabinets are Louisiana cherry and are finished with a high gloss. Seems like the baking soda might scratch the finish? I don’t really have a test spot. Any thoughts?

  • Did I miss something? Okay, so you have put the soda/coconut oil on your cupboards– then what? Do you just put it on and wipe it off;? What is the best thing to wipe it off with– paper towels or cloth?

  • >