If you have beautiful wooden cabinets in your home, you probably already know how dingy they can begin to look after a few months of use. This is particularly true of those in the kitchen, which are a target for greasy hands and moisture. If you want your wood to look as nice as the day it was installed, you’ll need to keep up with a regular system of cleaning and care. Luckily, once you get in the routine, this isn’t difficult to do. But there are some right ways and wrong ways to go about it. Here are some ways that won’t steer you wrong.

One of the best building blocks to a great cleaning solution is dish or laundry detergent. Get the kind that promises to cut through grease. Go two parts water to every part of detergent for a well-mixed solution that will serve you well. Don’t go anymore concentrated than this, as you could risk the health of the wood. Use a cloth or sponge, dip it into the soapy water, and start scrubbing the cabinets. Once you’ve moved over an area, return immediately to rinse the wood, or else you’ll leave residue that will be as unpleasant as the grime you’re trying to remove.

If your cabinets have built up a film of any kind on the doors, you might want to use a solution made from vinegar and water. Vinegar used to be one of the most popular household cleaning solutions, as it is highly effective at cutting through all manner of dirt and grease. However, the smell of it has turned a newer generation away from this all-purpose liquid and onto other, better smelling chemicals (that don’t do the job half as well). There are perfumed vinegars that will take care of some of the scent, if you find it far too unpleasant to work with.

Speaking of chemicals, avoid using some of the harsher ones on your wooden cabinets. This isn’t always an obvious choice from reading labels, as manufacturers are eager for their customers to use their products on as many surfaces as possible. But some of these cleaners can damage your paint and finish. If you aren’t sure, you might want to pick a small test area out of easy visibility. Clean that small area and see if anything happens to your finish. If everything turns out okay, you can proceed to use the cleaner on the rest of the surface.

If you aren’t already applying wax to your cabinets when you’re done cleaning themFind Article, you should begin to introduce that into your habits. A good coating of it on the finish will go a long way towards ensuring you can keep your wood clean and shiny for many weeks to come. Keep up with a regular schedule of cleaning and rinsing and you’ll be able to prevent a build up of grease and grime.