6 Best Degreasers For Kitchen Cabinets Before Painting

One of the simplest ways to transform the look of your kitchen is by painting the cabinets. But before you paint, you need to clean and degrease the cabinets. We've researched the best degreasers to use, so you don't have to.

Degreasing your cabinets is necessary to allow the paint to adhere properly. Some of the best degreasers are:

  1. Krud Kutter Prepaint Cleaner
  2. Goo Gone Kitchen Grease Cleaner & Remover
  3. Grease Relief Degreaser And Laundry Stain Remover
  4. Zep Heavy Duty Citrus Degreaser
  5. Dish Liquid
  6. Vinegar

The key with any of these is to follow the directions carefully for good results. You may find the best results come by scrubbing with a scouring pad or brush while using one of these cleaners in many cases.

If you use one of the degreasers before painting, you can improve your chances of achieving a durable and smooth finish that will make your kitchen look beautiful for years to come. Keep reading for more details about these degreasers and information about why you need to degrease your cabinets before you paint.

A contemporary interior with kitchen in Scandinavian style, modern wooden furniture, gas stove and oven appliance, 6 Best Degreasers For Kitchen Cabinets Before Painting

Kitchen Cabinet Degreasing

If you are looking at your kitchen cabinets in despair, finally realizing that they are just so hideous you cannot stand the look of them any longer; you may consider painting them. A good paint job can make old cabinets look new, dark cabinets look light, or rustic cabinets look modern.

You can completely change your kitchen's look, and it is a project that many people can reasonably take on themselves, without the need to hire professionals.

A vital step before painting kitchen cabinets is cleaning and degreasing. In fact, no matter what else you do to prep your cabinets for painting, if you don’t remove the grease and oils that are typical in a kitchen, your final finish will suffer. Your paint may not stick at all, and if it does, it will likely peel bubble or chip in the future. Another issue you may encounter if you don’t degrease is the grease could bleed through your paint job, making everything look terrible.

Even if you have done a thorough scrubbing, it is important to make sure you use a proper degreasing agent. Maybe your cleaning solution had a degreaser in it, and that’s great if it did. But some do not, and this is not a time to risk it. If you aren’t certain, then it is best to go over everything again with a degreaser like one of the cleaners below. If you don’t, you risk your entire paint job, and this is likely not a project you want to repeat in a week.

1. Krud Kutter Prepaint Cleaner

This is one of the few cleaners here that can help reduce the amount of sanding needed before painting. Some people say you clean with this, very lightly sand, clean quickly with this again, and then paint after ten minutes. It’s also water-based and non-toxic.

Click here to see this cleaner on Amazon.

2. Goo Gone Kitchen Grease Cleaner & Remover

This is a foam degreaser and clings to both horizontal and vertical surfaces. This may be a bonus when degreasing the sides of cabinets.

Click here to see this cleaner on Amazon.

3. Zep Heavy-Duty Citrus Cleaner

This degreaser uses natural citrus cleaners to clear away tough stains and grease, as well as leftover adhesives and glues.

Click here to see this cleaner on Amazon.

4. Spray Nine Heavy-Duty Cleaner/Degreaser

This cleaner is safe to use on walls and ceilings, so it should work well on your cabinet surfaces as well. It not only cleans grease, but it also cleans mold and mildew and deodorizes as you clean.

Click here to see this cleaner on Amazon.

5. Dish Liquid

If your cabinets are not especially greasy, you may get by with just a simple dish liquid, such as this one:

Click here to see this on Amazon.

While this may not work as well for you as the cleaners above, it is a good degreaser that you may already have in your home. If you decide to use the dish liquid, add several drops to very warm water for best results.

6. Vinegar

Vinegar is another simple degreaser that you may already have in your home. It is a safe, natural, and eco-friendly solution.

Click here to see this on Amazon.

To use this, mix the vinegar 50/50 with very warm water and scrub at the grease with a soft cloth or scrubber pad. This cleaner is safe and natural and can work well on light grease. The one problem with vinegar as a degreaser is the strong odor that it can leave behind after cleaning, so keep that in mind.

For the best results with any of these cleaners:

  • Follow the directions on the bottles carefully.
  • Use a scrubber, such as this:

Scotch Brite Scouring Pads

Click here to see these on Amazon.

  • Rinse away any remaining cleaner with plain water and let dry completely.
  • Sand lightly with sandpaper in the range of 200 grit or finer.
  • Remove dust well with a cloth dampened with mineral spirits or with a tack cloth, such as this one:

Trimaco SuperTuff Tack Cloth

Click here to see this on Amazon.

  • Prime before painting.

If you follow these steps and use a good degreaser, you should be able to produce a good finish and make your cabinets look fresh and beautiful.

What Should I Clean My Cabinets With Before Painting?

A key step before you paint your cabinets is to clean them well. This can include a good wash with just water and a few drops of dish liquid as a first step. If your cabinets still show any signs of lingering oil or grease or aren’t sure and want to be certain, use one of the degreasers mentioned above after the initial cleaning. After that, make sure to rinse down the cabinets very well to remove any lingering soap or degreaser, since either can prevent your paint from adhering properly.

Can You Just Paint Over Cabinets Without Sanding?

Painting kitchen cabinets is a lot of work, and to do so properly involves many steps. Most of the time, this includes sanding. The paint may not adhere well if you do not sand your cabinets. You may get by with it, but your paint may become loose a month from now and leave you with ugly cabinets.

If you decide to forego sanding, there are some products out there that can help. One of them is a deglosser, such as this one:

Kleen Strip, Liquid Sandpaper Deglosser

Click here to see this on Amazon.

While this won’t rid your surface of chips or rough spots left from previous damage like sanding, it helps break the glossy surface and give your paint a better chance to adhere.

There are primers designed to adhere well to slicker surfaces, such as the kitchen cabinet's glossy surface.

KILZ Adhesion High-Bonding Primer

Click here to see this primer on Amazon.

Many people have good luck using one or both of the products above. The bad news is that you will have to sand between the primer and the first coat of paint if you really want your cabinets to look the best they can. While some people skip this step, a very light sanding can make your finish as perfect as you can make it.

What Kind Of Primer Should I Use On Laminate?

When you paint laminates, you need to make sure to use a good quality bonding primer. These provide better adhesion than typical primers. There are several brands available in both latex and oil. Here are some examples of bonding primer:

Stix Acrylic Waterborne Bonding Primer

Click here to see this primer on Amazon.

Rust-Oleum Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer

Click here to see this primer on Amazon.

In Conclusion

When painting your kitchen cabinets, an important step is degreasing with a good degreaser, such as those we mentioned above. This will help you get proper adhesion with your primer and paint. If you clean and degrease properly, then you are off to a good start in refinishing your cabinets and creating the look you want in your kitchen.

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