Why Are Your Kitchen Cabinets Sticky After Cleaning?

One of the most dreaded tasks in the kitchen is cleaning the cabinets. And if you’ve ever cleaned your kitchen cabinets only to find that they’re still sticky afterward, you know how frustrating it can be. So, why are your kitchen cabinets sticky after cleaning, and how can you fix this problem?

Your kitchen cabinets are sticky after cleaning because you may have used the wrong cleaning products. Additionally, residue might still be left on the surfaces that haven’t been removed through wiping, or the cabinets have not dried properly. 

In this post, I’ll explore the common causes of sticky kitchen cabinets and quick fixes for this issue. And if you still can’t achieve a smooth and shiny surface on your kitchen cabinets after trying these tips, I’ll recommend a more in-depth solution. 

Why Are Your Kitchen Cabinets Sticky After Cleaning

Sticky Kitchen Cabinets After Cleaning: Causes and Fixes

Grease and Grime Have Left a Sticky Film

The most common cause of sticky cabinets is built-up grease and grime. Even if you regularly clean your cabinets, a thin greasy layer can accumulate over time. The build-up can become thick and difficult to remove, so you might feel that your cabinets are still sticky after cleaning.

Use a Degreaser

If you have grease and grime build-up on your kitchen cabinets, the best way to clean them is to use a degreaser.

Degreasers are specially formulated to break down the grease and grime that can build up on surfaces like kitchen cabinets. They are usually made from natural ingredients like citrus or vinegar. Additionally, degreasers can be used on a variety of surfaces and are safe for use around children and pets.

To use a degreaser, apply it to the surface to be cleaned. Wait for a few minutes before wiping it away with a clean cloth. 

Clean Using a Vinegar Solution

Another way to clean sticky kitchen cabinets is to use vinegar and water solution, which are natural substances that will not damage your cabinets. This DIY solution will also break down the build-up, but it may take longer than a degreaser.

To make the solution:

  1. Mix equal parts vinegar and water in a bowl.
  2. Dip a cloth into the mixture, then wring it out.
  3. Wipe down your cabinets with the cloth, using circular motions.
  4. Rinse with a clean, damp cloth afterward. 

Prevent Build-Up in the Future

Once the grease and grime build-up on your cabinet has been removed, you can take a few steps to prevent build-up in the future.

Consider the following tips:

  • Wipe up spills immediately. Grease and grime can build up quickly, so it’s important to wipe up any spills inside your cabinet as soon as they happen.
  • Use mild cleaners. Harsh chemicals can damage your cabinets and make them more susceptible to dirt and grime. Instead, use mild cleaners or a mixture of water and vinegar.
  • Don’t forget the top of the cabinets. The top of cabinets is often overlooked, but it’s just as important to keep them clean as the rest. Wipe down the top of your cabinets at least once a week with a damp cloth.

You’ve Used the Wrong Cleaning Products

Another possible cause of sticky kitchen cabinets after cleaning is residue from cleaning products.

When choosing a cleaner for your cabinets, make sure to pick one that does not have a high concentration of harsh chemicals or synthetic substances.

Avoid Products With Waxes and Silicones

If you use a cleaner with wax or silicone in it, this may leave a sticky film on your cabinets.

Many people turn to waxes or silicones because they provide a glossy finish. Waxes and silicones are often used in cleaning products because they create a protective barrier. This barrier can help repel water and dirt, making it ideal for use on countertops or other high-traffic areas.

However, this barrier can also cause problems because it doesn’t allow the surface to breathe. Therefore, it can lead to a build-up of moisture, which can then cause the surface to become sticky.

Use Products With Natural Ingredients

I recommend using a mild dish soap and water solution to clean your cabinets. Be sure to rinse the cabinets well afterward to remove any soap residue. 

You can also try cleaning with natural substances like vinegar or lemon juice. These natural cleaners will cut through the residue and make your cabinets look clean and shiny.

Avoid Harsh Chemicals

Avoid harsh chemicals like bleach or ammonia when cleaning your kitchen cabinets. These can damage the finish on your cabinets over time, making them more difficult to clean and require more frequent replacement.

Instead, opt for gentle cleaning solutions that won’t damage your cabinets and will make them last longer.

Your Kitchen Cabinets Did Not Dry Properly

Kitchen cabinets that have not adequately dried after cleaning can also become sticky. This is because cabinets are usually made of porous materials that absorb water and cleaning solutions. So, when water and cleaning solutions don’t dry properly, they leave behind a sticky residue. 

Try the following tips to make sure your cabinets dry fully after cleaning:

  • Wipe down the inside and outside of your cabinets with a dry, clean towel.
  • Use a hairdryer inside your cabinets to speed up the drying process.
  • Leave the cabinet doors open for several hours to allow air to circulate and evaporate any remaining moisture.
  • Consider using a dehumidifier to dry the air inside your home.

Is It Time for Kitchen Cabinet Refinishing?

If your kitchen cabinets are still sticky after applying the above tips, it may be time to refinish them. This process will remove the sticky residue and give your cabinets a fresh look.

What Does the Process Involve?

Cabinet refinishing can be completed in a few hours. The most crucial step is to sand the cabinets down to bare wood, giving the new paint or stain something to adhere to.

Once the cabinets are sanded, you can choose to either paint or stain them. If you paint your cabinets, a primer is used before applying the paint to ensure it will last.

If you decide to stain your cabinets instead, the stain is applied with a rag. Any excess is wiped off with a clean cloth. Once the cabinets are painted or stained, new hardware may be added.

Is It Expensive?

The cost of cabinet refinishing depends on the size and scope of the project. However, it is typically much less expensive than buying new cabinets. Plus, you can rest assured that your cabinets will look beautiful and function properly for many years.

Is It Worth It To Refinish Kitchen Cabinets?

If you’re having difficulty keeping your kitchen cabinets smooth and shiny after cleaning, you may wonder whether you should refinish them or replace them entirely.

Before committing to a cabinet refinishing project, you must consider a few factors:

  • The age of your cabinets
  • The condition the cabinets are in 
  • Your budget

If your cabinets are old and in need of repair, it may be more cost-effective to replace them. If they’re in good shape and you’re looking for a more affordable option, refinishing them is the way to go.

Important Considerations Before Refinishing Your Kitchen Cabinets

Refinishing kitchen cabinets is not as simple as painting them a new color. Many homeowners debate whether to refinish their existing cabinets or start fresh with new ones.

Ask yourself the following questions before making a decision:

What’s the Overall Condition of the Cabinets?

Refinishing your cabinets is a great way to modernize your kitchen. If your cabinets are still in relatively good condition, then refinishing is a better option. However, if the cabinets are in poor condition, you may want to replace them instead.

You can choose a new color or stain if you decide to refinish your cabinets. You can also consider adding new hardware to enhance your kitchen’s aesthetic appeal or functionality.

What’s the Expected Cost of the Project?

Refinishing existing cabinets may be the more affordable option for those with a tight budget. This process can be completed for a fraction of the cost of buying new cabinets and can give your kitchen a fresh look without breaking the bank.

The cost of materials and labor for a full kitchen remodel can be quite expensive, so if you’re looking to save money, refinishing may be the route for you.

What’s the Look You Want To Achieve?

Finally, think about the overall look you hope to achieve in your kitchen. If you want a completely different look than your current cabinets, starting from scratch with new cabinets may be a better option.

Before making a final decision, weigh all your options and think about what will work best for your needs and goals. With a little research, you can easily find the right solution for your needs.


The build-up of grease and grime, using the wrong cleaning products, and improper drying can cause your kitchen cabinets to become sticky after cleaning. If you follow the tips in this post, you’ll be on your way to restoring your cabinets to their former glory in no time. If that still doesn’t work, then cabinet resurfacing may be your solution.

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