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Natural wood cabinets are popular right now, and with good reason. Natural wood can be warm, modern, or traditional, and wood is a durable material that can stand up to years of use. But wear and tear can show on natural wood cabinets if they’re not well maintained. Here’s what you can do to lengthen the life of your natural wood and keep it looking like new for years to come.

Tighten hardware

Over time, the screws and bolts that hold hardware on can begin to loosen. If handles, knobs, or pulls begin to wobble, they can cause visible dents and scratches on the surface of your cabinets. Also, if the screws holding the hinges in place loosen up, the doors can begin to sag. Scratches and dents on natural wood can be tough to fix or cover over since the finish on natural wood is clear or translucent. Taking the time to give your cabinets a good once-over once a year with a screwdriver and a wrench and tightening any loose bolts of screws before they cause damage can save you from needing to replace or refinish your cabinet facings down the road.

Protect natural wood from sun damage

If your cabinets are in an area where the sun streams in from outside onto the wood for more than a few minutes at a time, it’s worth using curtains or shades to protect them. Natural wood can become bleached or discolored over time from long-term exposure to sunlight and if the sun has a shadow pattern from a window frame or other shape, it will change color unevenly, looking blotchy or spotty. If covering windows isn’t an option, you can also use a UV protective finish to keep your wood looking like new.

Keep moisture and humidity in check

Keeping your natural wood cabinets in good shape means keeping humidity in check. While most homes are usually within safe humidity parameters for wood, the kitchen can introduce lots of moisture into the air from cooking and hot water taps. While you obviously won’t be able to keep cabinets completely moisture-free in a kitchen, wiping away excess moisture promptly and keeping hot water kettles, instant pots, and other steam-producing appliances at least one foot from the surface of wood cabinets will help to protect them.

Use wood polish and wax

Natural wood is porous, so even finished cabinets can be susceptible to stains. Grease from cooking, spills, and other substances introduced onto the surface of natural wood cabinets can penetrate the surface. To prevent this problem, using a wood polish like orange oil about once per month to protect wood from excess moisture and prevent it from drying out if exposed to heat is a good way to help prevent stains. In addition, you can use a wax polish once per year to add a layer of protection and shine to your natural wood cabinets.

Clean cabinets with the right cleanser

Cleaning cabinets regularly with a cleanser meant for natural wood will help keep them in good shape. Using a cotton cloth to dust cabinet doors is the best way to keep them clean without scratching or damaging the finish. If you need to scrub your cabinets, you can use water and dish soap, so long as you wipe away excess water when you’re done. Never clean natural wood cabinets with a cleanser containing ammonia, abrasives, or harsh detergents. These can seep into the wood and discolor it or damage the finish.

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