How to Clean Woodwork and Cupboards

How to Clean Woodwork and Cupboards via Clean Mama

I recently posted a question to my readers and asked what their biggest cleaning conundrums are. I received a lot of great questions that I’m planning to cover in upcoming posts. Today we are going to look at methods of cleaning woodwork, doors and cupboards, as this seems to be a common cleaning issue with many. Fingerprints, food, dust, dirt and grime have the tendency to accumulate quickly. Cleaning all your baseboards, doors or all your cupboards can sound a bit daunting, so let’s make it easy as possible with several different cleaning options and recipes.


Cleaning Baseboards with Baby Wipes via Clean Mama

Baseboard cleaning is a task that is really a lot easier than it sounds. For starters, I like to enlist the help of my kiddos on this task. Armed with baby wipes, this task is perfect for kids and their nimble knees. Simply have them do the perimeter of a room for one of their weekly chores. I’ve found that when I keep up with cleaning them, it makes the job so much easier as dirt doesn’t have a chance to accumulate.  Baby wipes will work on BOTH painted and wood trim baseboards.  If you are trying to clean up stubborn scuffs and marks on white trim, use Magic Erasers to remove scuffs and dirt.  It works like a champ to remove some of those marks that are a bit more stubborn.

How to Clean White Trim via Clean Mama

I also like to mix up a simple cleaner to spring clean or deep clean those baseboards on occasion. Mix 1/2 cup of Borax with a gallon of water and stir to dissolve. I like to use microfiber cloths as they do a great job at getting in the nooks and crannies of trim, but you can also use a sponge. Wring out your cloth or sponge to remove excess water and wipe baseboards and/or doors to clean. No rinsing required! Wipe your doors from top to bottom and left to right. Keep an old bath towel nearby to put under your bucket to catch errant drips.


If you are cleaning stained wood trim, you clean and polish it much like you would clean and polish furniture.  I have stained oak trim on the staircases in my home and I use this simple recipe for cleaning it up.  I use microfiber cloths to dust and then apply this polish with the grain and it cleans up in a hurry!  Mix up in a small container and use sparingly – it just mixes up a small amount so no storing is necessary.


1/4 white vinegar
2 tablespoons almond or fractionated coconut oil
10 drops lemon or orange essential oils (feel free to combine both oils)


With the heavy use that most kitchens get, it doesn’t take much before cupboards get dirty with fingerprints, food spills and everyday dust and grime. You’ll be surprised at what a good washing can do to clean up your cupboards, no matter what the surface or color. I like to wash the exterior of my cupboards monthly, or as needed. The interiors don’t typically get such a thorough cleaning on a monthly basis, but I like to wipe out crumbs and dust as needed.

How to Clean Cupboards via Clean Mama

I use a great cupboard and cabinet DIY cleaner that is gentle and safe to use on any type of surface. Be sure to give your cloth or sponge a good squeeze in between to assure that the surface doesn’t get overly damp. Again, I like to use microfiber cloths as they do a fantastic job of getting all those fingerprints and all that grime, but you can use a sponge as well. I like to add a little essential oil to freshen up the kitchen, but it’s not a necessity. If you are new to Castile soap, I find it at my Target in the health and beauty department, at Costco and other retailers.


8 cups warm water
2 tablespoons liquid Castile soap
3 drops lemon essential oil.

Mix all ingredients in a bucket. Work from top left and scrub your way down to the right using a microfiber cloth or sponge. Be sure to wring out your cloth or sponge frequently and well.

Keep an eye out for more of your cleaning questions and conundrums to be answered in upcoming posts!

If you like these recipes, you will LOVE my book, The Organically Clean Home!

You might also like this post with some of my favorite dusting and furniture cleaning essentials:

Dusting and Furniture Care Essentials - Clean Mama


  1. Love all your advice!! This article mainly addresses painted wood. I have a house full of real wood baseboards, window sills, floors and even walls! I recently was turned onto a recipe of equal parts vinegar and olive oil mixed as needed in a spray bottle (I add lemon or orange EO as well). Vinegar cleans and the oil nourishes. It has done wonders for my wood here in the dry Southwest! But since it’s still new to me I’d like your thoughts on it. Thank you!

  2. Karen S. says:

    Great post! I have Castile soap and my cabinets need a good washing. Wow ~ there are so many uses for that soap! Where did you find that mixing bowl in your photos? I know I’ve seen them somewhere…….it’s much fancier than my little pail I carry around 😉

  3. My sister in law says a dryer sheet works wonderfully too for cleaning baseboards!

  4. Best way to clean stainless steel appliances.

  5. Caroline Vickers says:

    What is the equivalent of castile soap? I want to clean a kitchen cupboard which is wood but it is above the cooker and is greasy, to clean it without damaging the wood?

    • There isn’t a direct replacement/equivalent to castile soap, but you can use a mild dish soap instead 🙂

    • Shirlen Weber says:

      I have used Automatic Dish Soap (Cascade is my first choice) It works great on real greasy cabinets.

  6. Monique says:

    Thank you! If my cupboards/cabinets are wood painted white, should I use the Borax or Castile soap method? Same question for white painted MDF?

  7. I love the idea of wipes and kiddos, HOWEVER, I have no kiddos and my knees are not so hot. Any suggestions on how to get those base boards clean without getting on my knees?

    • Offer to babysit 🙂 That’s my plan…..LOL my godson will love this idea. He has his own broom and dustpan already. He’s almost 3.

  8. How do you remove built up hair spray off wood?

    • I recommend using warm soapy water with a microfiber cloth that is slightly damp. This should help pick up the residue. Hope that helps! xo Becky

      • how about hair spray and hair products from the walls around my sink in the bathroom… seems i have tried everything and those shiny little spots prevail! LOL thanks!

        • Kimberley says:

          I have heard that shampoo will remove hair spray/products. Makes sense – but I have not tried it yet.

          • I have used suave shampoo on the vinyl floor in my bathroom for built up hairspray. Works like a charm.

        • I use non-acetone nail polish remover around my shower door on the stainless steel for hairspray. It works great.

        • This is a great way to remove hairspray from anything including your brush, comb, even your hair! All you need is baking soda! Put baking soda in a bowl….add enough water to make a paste….apply the paste to the item or area…let sit for about 5 minutes, then rinse. Very seldom do you have to do this twice!

  9. How do I get coffee stains off white wood cupboards

    • Make a paste of dish soap, water, and a little baking soda and apply with a microfiber cloth – test first in an inconspicuous spot 🙂
      xo, Becky

  10. I was just thinking the other day as I was wiping down my cupboards and writing you, here is the perfect topic. How do you get the grime out of the cupboard door molding, as I do not have a flat surface? Thanks for this 2016 January come clean challenge.

  11. We just moved into a home a few weeks ago with lots of trim and crown work. How often do you recommend Dustin, cleaning, etc them?

  12. Would the castile soap and water cleaner work for our kitchen cabinets? They are wood – maple, specifically. Thank you!!

  13. Question. . Is it safe to use Stainless Steel Wipes on stained oak cupboards?

  14. Does the lemon oil add any cleaning properties or do you use it for the scent? Thanks!

  15. What would you recommend using on a wooden railing?

  16. Cynthia Buhler says:

    Love your natural ideas and the time and energy that you put into your site to help others. Part of my regular baseboard cleaning is using the brush attachment on my vacuum, dust being the biggest dirt accumulation on mine. I bought a big bag of them one year for my Kindergarten class to use for our clean-up. I read the ingredients after I bought them, oops! I decided not to take a chance with my little charges. So, I would caution the use of Magic erasers with children. My understanding is the foam used in them was developed by BASF for insulation and fire retardant. Just a friendly FYI, perhaps further research into it before handing them over to little ones. I’d love to hear about your findings. They are a great product otherwise. Thanks!

  17. Love these! Any ideas how to clean the wide strip PVC Mini Blinds? I do them by hand but they take forever!

  18. Yvette Hobbs says:

    Can you use the same method you use on woodwork that’s painted on walls as well? Also, I can’t use borax, so what do you recommend?

  19. Lynne Pfortmiller says:

    I’m moving into an old farmhouse thats been empty for 5 yrs. The grunge & grime on all the doors & woodwork is black in places…and the doorknobs are black!! Any suggestions? I’ve been using TSP which seems to be working but you have to rinse everything!

  20. Hi Becky, we live in a rented apartment in Montreal, Quebec, Canada…There is lots of traffic and dust and grime due to construction going on close to us…how would I clean my melamine cupboard doors…the are so bad and I can’t seem to remove it…I love your site! Thanks!

  21. I’m out of Castile soap- is a tiny bit of dawn dishwashing liquid ok to use, or would that be too harsh. I have natural wood cabinets, but they have a clear lacquer coating on them. Thanks!

  22. The recipe for Citrus Wood Polish says 1/4 white vinegar. Is that supposed to be 1/4 cup? I tried your cabinet and cupboard cleaner yesterday and loved it, just want to clarify this polish recipe. Thank you.

  23. Just what I needed! I have her books and I’ve become a much cleaner single guy because of her.
    So many time saving tips that don’t interfere with my social life at all and how to make your own cleaning products makes my social life even that much better!
    Thanks for everything and please continue to write more books and know I support everything your doing 100%
    Michael L.

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