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How to clean tung oil-finished cabinets

Posted by blairgirl (My Page) on
Thu, Aug 2, 07 at 4:16

Hi, everyone...

Several years ago I stripped the dark stain from old kitchen cbinets to reveal this gorgeous oak beneath. I put several coats of miniwax tung oil as a finish.

I believe it's supposed to be non-yellowing; anyway, since it's a kitchen, you get the usual grease, smoke, soot residue on the cabinets.

I'd like to clean them, but I don't know how. Any suggestions for what to use to get the grease and other gunk off? (Btw, the residue on them is NOT at all heavy, but it's there.)

What can I use to clean the cabinets? Should I use 0000 steel wool with a cleaning solution? I just do not want to STRIP the tung oil off (mineral spirits were suggested to me, but like I said, I just want to clean them, not strip them!)

I wouldn't mind adding a few more coats of tung oil to them, although I'd like to avoid it right now if possible (I really just want to clean them!)

Any ideas? Thanks for your help.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: How to clean tung oil-finished cabinets

First off, Minwax Tung Oil Finish is a varnish thinned for wiping and some linseed oil. There is no tung oil in it, none, zero, zip, nada, just varnish, linseed oil, and thinner. Tung Oil Finish

For simple cleaning, I use Dawn in water, less Dawn than what you would use for a sink full of dishes. It is an excellent degreaser.

If you want to (and I rarely find it necessary), you can then wipe down with naphtha or mineral spirits. The varnish and oil by now has polymerized and will NOT be stripped by mineral spirits. Its curing is non-reversible.

For heavy cleaning of accumulated grease, smoke, and fingerprints, I use Kitchen Cabinet wipes (See below). In a kitchen full of cabinets, usually only the most-used two or three cabinets need this treatment.

You might then follow up with a good emulsion furniture polish such as Oz or Guardsman. NOT Pledge. Pledge will ruin any ability to freshen up with any type of finish later.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cabinet wipes


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RE: How to clean tung oil-finished cabinets

paint thinner is actually a rather benign solvent.
It will have little effect on polymerized finishes (there are one way) and will not even damage shellac.
It can even be used carefully on latex paint.
Denatured alcohol is also good at removing grime and grease with little damage (except for shellac and latex).
Water and some soap is OK if you are sure the finish does not have any defects.
If there are ANY cracks or holes the water can get into the wood and cause the finish to lift. Even polymerized finishes can be damaged this way.


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RE: How to clean tung oil-finished cabinets

Sorry, brickeyee, you're right. I inferred the finish was OK from the description. If the finish is cracked of flaking, then water is not the best thing to use.


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