White laminate cabinets turning yellow is a common problem, but some simple methods exist to restore them to their original condition. Knowing the steps involved in cleaning white cabinets that have yellowed will help maintain the pristine appearance of your kitchen cabinets for years to come.

This post we’ve prepared will provide an overview of why white cabinets may turn yellow, the supplies and tools you’ll need for the job, and a simple step-by-step guide to help you restore your kitchen cabinets. 

Understanding Why White Cabinets Turn Yellow 

White laminate cabinets are more prone to yellowing over time to a combination of factors. Here’s a breakdown of these reasons:

1. Exposure to Light

Over time, exposure to natural and artificial light can cause the pigments in the cabinet’s finish to break down. This breakdown can lead to a yellowing effect, especially in areas of the cabinets that receive direct light.

The science goes like this; sunlight carries UV rays that discolor bleachy-white surfaces and materials. Moreover, white cabinets’ reflective properties can also amplify light exposure’s effects.

2. Heat and Oxidation

People call kitchens the Devil’s Playground because of the high temperatures and heat generated by appliances. This environment can cause oxidation, where oxygen reacts with molecules in an object. 

Remember, your kitchen cabinets have a finish that could be a laminate, such as Formica. The laminates start yellowing with exposure to heat and oxygen, and it aggravates over time.

3. Moisture 

Moisture fading is also typical in kitchens due to water spills on cabinets or steam from cooking pots and pans. As moisture seeps into wood-based materials (like cabinet doors), the materials in the cabinet swell, contract, and even warp. 

Microcracks in the finish can also form, allowing moisture to penetrate further into the cabinet and cause discoloration. The yellowing left behind is usually permanent, and you will need professional cleaning services or an advanced DIY approach.

4. Dust and Dirt

Open kitchens are exposed to a lot of dust and dirt. This debris can accumulate on the cabinet surfaces, eventually seeping into the materials. Over time, this buildup can cause discoloration and yellowing.

5. Aging of Materials 

From the living to kitchen cabinets and entire housing structures, aging is the inevitable fate of all matter. Cabinets can turn yellow even from natural aging due to the release of oils and materials that accumulate over time. 

Remember, the longer your cabinet has existed, the more exposed it’s been to sunlight, heat and oxidation, moisture, dust, and dirt. The yellowing effect accumulates with age and can take years to set in, making it challenging to prevent or diagnose. 

What You’ll Need to Clean White Cabinets That Have Yellowed

It’s not all lost! Fortunately, you can try salvaging the appealing look of your kitchen cabinets in a few steps outlined below. It only takes a few minutes of attentive reading to learn how to clean white laminate cabinets that have yellowed.

You will need some tools and materials for this process. Gathering everything you need before starting is crucial to ensure a smooth cleaning process. Here’s a list of necessary cleaning supplies and tools:

1. White Vinegar Solution 

Vinegar is acidic, making it an effective cleaning agent for removing dirt and grime. It also helps break down the oils that accumulate over time on cabinets. 

This mixture will not damage the cabinet’s finish but use it carefully to avoid discoloration as it has a bleaching effect. 

To make that solution work, you’ll need equal water and vinegar potions in a spray bottle. This mixture will work as an effective cleanser to remove any tough grease, grime, and dirt buildup. 

2. Baking Soda 

Baking soda is known for its natural cleansing properties. It’s mildly abrasive, making it a safe choice to clean white cabinets without damaging them.

3. Detergents or Dish Soap

Detergents or dish soap are powerful cleaning agents that can help remove dirt and grime from kitchen cabinets surfaces. Add some of this cleaning agent into the vinegar solution for extra cleaning power. 

4. Warm water

Have warm water ready to rinse all cleaning solutions and tools after each step. It will help remove any residue from the cabinets, leaving them bright and clean. 

5. Toothbrush 

A soft-bristled toothbrush works great for scrubbing away dirt in hard-to-reach places. 

6. Microfiber cloth

This cloth is ideal for kitchen cleaning; it’s soft, absorbent, and does not leave lint behind.

7. Soft Sponge 

You’ll need a soft sponge to wipe down the cabinets after applying the vinegar solution. 

8. Spray Bottle

A spray bottle is necessary for storing the white vinegar solution. 

9. Protective Gloves

We recommend wearing protective gloves for cleaning white cabinets to protect your skin from the vinegar solution. 

10. Safety Goggles 

One of the top priorities is to protect your eyes from vinegar splashes, so you’ll need safety goggles. 

11. Old Newspapers or Drop Cloths

Lay out old newspapers or drop cloths around the cabinets to prevent any messes from spreading. 

12. Wax Polish 

Once the cabinets are completely dry, finish them with a wax polish for added protection against future discoloration. 

How to Clean White Cabinets That Have Yellowed 

Now that you’ve gathered all the cleaning supplies and tools, it’s time for the actual process. Follow these steps:

A. Preparation Steps

Before you begin cleaning, follow these steps to prepare the area:

1. Clear the cabinets, and remove all items from the cabinets to access the entire surface.

2. Protect the surrounding surfaces. Place old newspapers or drop cloths on nearby surfaces to prevent accidental damage from cleaning solutions.

B. Gentle Cleaning Methods

3. Gently wipe the cabinets with a microfiber cloth to remove surface dust and dirt. Avoid abrasive materials as they could scratch the surface.

C. Mild Detergent Solution

4. Mix mild dish soap with warm water to create a solution.

5. Dip a soft cloth into the solution and wring it out well.

6. Wipe down the cabinets, paying extra attention to yellowed areas.

7. Rinse the cloth and wipe the cabinets again with clean water to rinse off all the soap residue.

D. Baking Soda Paste

8. Make a paste by mixing baking soda and water.

9. Apply the paste to more stubborn stains or yellowed spots.

10. Gently rub in a circular motion, then wipe clean with a damp cloth.

E. Vinegar Solution

11. Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle.

12. Spritz the solution on the cabinets and wipe gently.

13. Vinegar helps remove grease and residue that contribute to yellowing.

F. Avoiding Harsh Cleaning Methods

14. Caution against using abrasive cleaners, harsh chemicals, or scouring pads that might further damage the cabinets’ finish.

G. Drying and Polishing

15. Ensure the cabinets are completely dry after cleaning to prevent moisture-related issues. Use dry, soft clothes to dry the cabinets gently.

H. Preventive Measures

To prevent yellowing in the future, consider these measures:

16. Use UV-protective films on windows to reduce light exposure.

17. Ensure proper ventilation in the kitchen to minimize humidity.

18. Avoid placing white cabinets in areas with direct sunlight exposure for extended periods.

Final Thoughts

When buying kitchen cabinets online, know white laminate cabinets turning yellow will happen eventually due to age and natural wearing. With the right cleaning supplies, tools, and approaches, you can clean white cabinets that have yellowed in no time. 

Buying Kraftmaid cabinets online from us will surely prolong that yellowing process, but a regular maintenance plan can help keep your kitchen cabinets looking pristine for years. We’re happy to help you arrange that if you ask. 

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