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You may feel like having a spring clean of your home, and want to make your cabinets squeaky clean, or you’ve moved into a new place that unfortunately has filthy hardware.
Hinges aren’t something people usually have time to properly clean – though they are hidden from plain sight, they can accumulate a surprising amount of dirt over time. It may be a good time for you to get them all dealt with in one go.
There are many different ways of cleaning hinges, depending on their affliction – are they rusty, or greasy? Old or brand new?
In any case, we’ve got you: here are different ways of cleaning cabinet hinges, with detailed step-by-step instructions.
How to Clean Cabinet Hinges – 2 Easy Methods
Method 1: Using Soap and a Toothbrush to Clean Greasy Hinges
You can definitely clean your cabinet hinges with tools and products you already have at home. You will need:
- Dish soap/washing up liquid, whichever you have available.
- Warm water in a bowl.
- A screwdriver, electric or manual.
- A toothbrush, preferably electric, with the toughest bristles you have available.
- Optional: baking soda.
Remove the hinges from your cabinets by removing the screws with a screwdriver, manual or electric. Be careful to store them in a safe place where you’ll be able to easily find the correct amount of screws when you’ve finished cleaning the hinges. If they’re also dirty, toss them in with the hinges.
Before you remove the hinges, get some pieces of protective sheet ready to lay your hingeless cabinets onto. You’ll want to protect the surface of those cabinets.
You can also tape the screws after removing them from the hinges onto the protective sheet with some painters’ tape so you can make sure you don’t lose them.
You could even label your cabinets with some tape (make sure it won’t leave a mark by testing with a tiny strip to see how easy it is to remove) so you don’t mess up the order and can easily put everything back together.
Add a good amount of dish soap to a big bowl of warm water, until it becomes soapy. You should be able to add 1 tablespoon or about 15 ml of dish soap – add until you can see a fair amount of bubbles.
You want sufficiently soapy water here because we need to be able to scrub away dirt effortlessly. For especially dirty hinges, adding 1 tablespoon or 15 ml of white distilled vinegar and 1 tablespoon or about 12 g of baking soda will help.
If you add vinegar, be careful not to leave your hinges in the solution for too long, or you could risk damaging the metal. Vinegar has a corrosive effect on metal when left for prolonged periods of time.
Add the hinges (and the screws if needed) into the bowl and soak for around 30 minutes. Soak for longer if very dirty. Be sure that every piece is completely submerged in water.
After 30 minutes, dip a toothbrush into the soapy water and scrub each hinge (and screw if needed) vigorously. If an electric toothbrush is available to you, use it to make this process easier – you won’t need to scrub as hard to get all the grime off your hinges.
Rinse the toothbrush every now and then to get rid of excess dirt. Scrub until dirt no longer comes off the brush.
Rinse the hinges with clean water. Use the brush (once you’ve cleaned all the remaining dirt off it) if needed to polish off the last pieces.
Dry each hinge with a soft, microfibre cloth. Ensure they are all individually dry to prevent any potential rusting later on.
Lay the hinges down onto a dry towel to catch the last drops of moisture, and let dry.
Once completely dry, use a rust inhibitor to further protect from rust. Some rust inhibitors come in the form of sprays – if that’s the case, lay the hinges onto pieces of newspaper and spray. Let the inhibitor dry completely.
Screw the hinges back onto the cabinets. There you go! Squeaky clean.
Method 2: Using Lemon and Baking Soda to Clean Rusty Hinges
You may be faced with a tougher problem to resolve than a simple layer of dirt that has settled on your cabinet hinges over time. Depending on the type of metal and treatment, the hinges may be prone to rust, which is a whole other issue.
Cleaning rust off metal requires another set of resources than soap and water. This method is specifically designed for cleaning off rust from metal hinges.
Our tip is to try soaking in soapy water first, to soften the rust and eliminate any grime and grease that may hinder the rust suppressing process. This is what you will need for the heavy-lifting:
Use a screwdriver, manual or electric, to remove the hinges from the cabinets. If needed, gather the screws too.
Be gentle when removing the hinges because severe rust can damage the structure of the metal, which could lead you to damage the actual cabinet if you apply too much force when unscrewing the hinge.
Into a bowl, pour half a lemon’s worth of lemon juice and combine with enough table salt until the mixture forms a loosely thick paste.
Using a dry and clean cloth, scoop some of the freshly concocted paste onto the rusted hinges and start scrubbing away.
The lemon will attack the rust, aided by the salt which acts as an abrasive, and you’ll be able to scour the hinges until the rust comes off.
Continue scrubbing the hinges (and the screws if necessary) until no rust is left. You might need to make more paste to finish the job.
To remove the last speckles of rust, and to achieve a shiny, brand new finish, you may need to use 0000-grade steel wool. Polish the hinges according to manufacturers’ instructions.
Once polished, you’ll want to clean the hinges to get them completely free of debris, dust, and rust.
Grab a clean cloth, microfibre if possible, and apply a little rubbing alcohol – apply all over the hinges, and wipe firmly to gather anything lying on the surface.
A good idea to finish would be to apply a preventative protective layer to shield from future rusting. We have previously talked about a rust inhibitor spray. You can also use mineral oil applied with a clean cloth.
Screw the hinges back onto the cabinets. Voila!
How do you clean tarnished cabinet hinges?
If ever you need to touch up hinges that are beginning to look slightly tarnished, mix 1 part vinegar with 1 part water and pour into a spray bottle. Spray onto the desired hinges and rub off with a microfibre cloth. You won’t need to unscrew the hinges this way, just spray and rub off on repeat until you notice a difference. It’s also a great way of keeping on top of the dirt and grime buildup! As usual, be careful not to leave the vinegar solution onto any kind of metal for too long, or you’ll risk it corroding the surface.
That was how to clean cabinet hinges with different methods that cater to different problems. With a little patience and elbow grease, it’s easy to remove rust from cabinet hinges as well as dirt or grease that could have built up over time.
Don’t hesitate to repeat the process every time you spring clean your home – shiny, clean, and bright hinges can do wonders for the general look of your home.