So you've done it. You've already purchased and installed the best garage cabinets to maximize the storage space of your garage. But what do you do when the hinges start to rust or the handles get discolored? In this straightforward guide, we'll offer everything you need to know about how to clean cabinet hardware.
Cleaning Cabinet Hardware With Soap and Water
We'll start with the easiest method. Here are step-by-step instructions for how to clean cabinet hardware with soap and water:
- 1Mix a tablespoon of dish soap with 3 cups of warm water. Add the soap first so that the water mixes it up, then give it a good stir yourself until it starts to form suds.
- 2Wet a rag with the mixture. Ring it out so that it's good and damp, but it shouldn't be tripping.
- 3Scrub the cabinet hardware. It might take a few runs on each piece, and don't be afraid to give it a little elbow grease.
- 4Wipe away remaining soap. You don't want to leave any soap behind that might damage the hardware. So get a fresh rag, run it under warm water, and scrub down all the hardware again. Give the rag a fresh rinse every couple of minutes.
- 5Polish with a microfiber cloth. Why go through all the trouble of cleaning your garage cabinet hardware if you don't make it shine? Finishing the job with a microfiber cloth should do the trick and leave your hardware looking good as new.
Cleaning Cabinet Hardware With Vinegar
Vinegar is touted as a panacea. Apple cider vinegar is said to help manage everything from heart burn to diabetes. While we can't say much about those claims, we can say that vinegar makes a pretty darn good cleaning solution.
If soap and water just aren't doing the trick, here are instructions for how to clean cabinet hardware with vinegar:
- 1Mix half a cup of white vinegar with half a cup of water. Or use any amount of a 1:1 ratio. You might need more for really big cleaning jobs.
- 2Pour the solution into a spray bottle. This will just make it much easier to apply the right amount.
- 3Spray a rag with the solution. Again, you want to get it good and damp, but you don't want the cloth to be dripping.
- 4Scrub the cabinet hardware with the vinegar solution. It should work better than soap and water, but because of the smell, we don't recommend it first!
- 5Use a microfiber cloth to buff the hardware. Get your back into it and make those hinges shine.
Cleaning Cabinet Hardware By Soaking
Okay, this method isn't going to be as fun as those rubber ducks make it out to be. In fact, it's kind of tedious. But, if your hardware is REALLY dirty or greasy—this is what it's going to take.
Here are the steps to follow for how to clean cabinet hardware by soaking:
- 1Remove all of the cabinet hardware. Yes, that means you have to unscrew and disassemble the handles, hinges, and such.
- 2Fill a bucket with warm water and dish soap. If you really want to make this work, throw in a half- to a full cup of white vinegar.
- 3Soak the hardware in the bucket for 8 hours. Make sure that it is completely submerged or you're going to get spots that don't get cleaned (which means all your hard work was wasted!).
- 4Scrub each piece with a toothbrush. Take them out of the water first, of course. For tarnished hardware, spray the brush with vinegar and sprinkle salt on the hardware prior to cleaning. The salt helps to facilitate ion exchange, a type of chemical reaction that encourages the tarnish to dissipate.
- 5Rinse the hardware. After scrubbing each piece, rinse it thoroughly to remove all soap and other cleaning agents.
- 6Let your hardware dry for 24 hours. Lay all the pieces out on a dry towel and let them dry thoroughly—preferably 24 hours. If you reinstall them while they are wet, you risk promoting rust.
- 7Re-install your cabinet hardware. Yay! Your work has paid off and the hardware is sparkling clean again. Now all you have to do is spend hours re-installing it all!
Tips and Tricks for Cleaning Cabinet Hardware
Now you know several methods for cleaning your hardware. Here are a few other things to keep in mind.
Don't lose track of your pieces.
If you are employing the soaking method, make sure that you account for all of the various pieces. If you lose one, that's a piece of your cabinet that won't function to its fullest anymore. Consider soaking sets of hardware in separate bowls, as well, and labeling them so you know exactly what goes where. Taking pictures before and after disassembly is also a good fail safe.
Understand how to remove rust from cabinet hinges.
If your cabinets are very old, they may have begun to rust in the hinges or other places. Try this simple trick to make them look good as new again.
Combine 1 tablespoon of lemon juice with a teaspoon of salt. Stir it up and add salt as necessary until it forms a paste. Use a dry rag to scrub the paste on to the rusty parts (it works best if you remove the hardware first). Scrub until the rust is mostly gone, then rinse with water. Finish the job by polishing the hardware with steel wool, and then applying mineral oil to help prevent rust in the future.
Final Thoughts on How to Clean Cabinet Hardware
Cleaning your cabinet hardware doesn't have to be a hassle. But we'll be honest: the longer you put it off, the worse it's going to be. Spare yourself the trouble of the time consuming soaking method. Put hardware cleaning on your schedule. Once a month, say the first Saturday of every month, do the soap and water or vinegar methods to keep your garage cabinet hardware looking clean and shiny.
If you are looking for more DIY garage cabinet projects, don't miss our guide on how to install wood veneer on cabinets.