White kitchen cabinets have always been a popular choice in both classic and modern kitchens.
They offer a clean look that magnifies the bright space of the kitchen.
However, many homeowners find that over time, these bright white surfaces start showing a shade of yellow.
The question arises: why do white kitchen cabinets turn yellow?
Let’s talk in detail and get an understanding why yellowing of white cabinets happens and what can you do to avoid it.
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Reasons of Discoloration in White Cabinets
The following are the main reasons for white cabinets turning into yellow kitchen cabinets:
The Sun’s Influence
Direct sunlight plays an important role in the discoloration of white laminate cabinets.
Just as prolonged sun exposure can affect our skin, it has a similar effect on the surfaces of the cabinet.
The cabinet doors, especially those facing windows or exposed to direct sunlight, can discolor due to sun damage, leading to a noticeable yellow tinge.
Cooking Activities and Their Residual Effects
Modern kitchens are busy spaces.
When you prepare a meal, especially those that involve frying or sautéing, the cooking grease and fumes released can settle on the surface of the cabinets.
Over time, these grease particles and the heat around them can cause yellow stains on the white surface, effecting the overall clean look of the kitchen.
Additionally, the buildup of cooking fumes can speed up the yellowing process, especially if the kitchen does not have proper ventilation.
Role of Paint and Materials
The quality of paint plays a very important role in how well your cabinets can resist yellowing.
Oil-based paint while providing a smooth finish, can be prone to yellowing, especially when compared to latex paint.
The chemical reaction that happens under certain conditions might not always be kind to the white color.
Additionally, if the product or lamination process is faulty, even white lacquers can begin to show a yellow color over time.
Aging, Wear, and Absence of Light
Aging is a natural process that affects everything, including your kitchen cabinets.
Those cabinets, particularly lower cabinets, might turn a shade of pale yellow due to natural wear combined with a lack of light, especially if they’re tucked away from natural light sources.
Effects of Cleaning Chemicals
Sometimes, our efforts to maintain a very clean kitchen can backfire.
Using strong chemicals on bright white paint doors or surfaces can lead to a chemical reaction that causes discoloration.
While they might clean effectively initially, they could eventually lead to a yellow tinge.
Steps to take to prevent Yellowing
Sun Protection Measures
UV inhibitors are a good idea for cabinets exposed to direct sunlight.
These finishes act as a protective layer, preventing the harmful effects of UV rays, just like sunscreen does for our skin.
Routine Cleaning & Maintenance
Regular cleaning is very important.
Using a soft clean cloth combined with natural cleaning solutions, such as white vinegar or a mix of lemon juice and warm water, is a very good idea.
It not only removes the dirt and grease but also makes sure the longevity of the white surface.
Spray these mixtures gently from a spray bottle and wipe down the surfaces of the cabinet.
The key is to prevent grease and oil build-up.
Here is a good Video on How to clean white cabinets by Abbotts at Home
Ventilation is Key
Proper ventilation is important to prevent the pileup of cooking fumes and heat.
You should consider installing functional thinhs like range hoods or an exhaust fan to reduce the heat and smoke, making sure your cabinets remain unaffected.
How to remove yellowing from white cabinets
Here are steps and tips to help restore your white cabinets to their former brightness:
- Vinegar and Water: Mix equal parts of white vinegar and warm water. This mild acid can help cut through grime and light yellowing.
- Baking Soda and Water: Make a paste of baking soda and water. Apply it on the yellowed areas, gently scrub, and rinse.
- Commercial Cleaners: Use a kitchen or wood-safe commercial cleaner designed for cabinetry. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
- Dish Soap: A mild dish soap mixed with water can also be effective for cutting through grease-related yellowing.
Steps to Clean:
- Empty Cabinets: Remove all items from your cabinets.
- Test Cleaners: Before applying any cleaner to the entire cabinet, test it in a small, inconspicuous area.
- Soft Cloth/Sponge: Use a soft cloth or sponge to apply your chosen cleaner. Avoid abrasive materials that could scratch the surface.
- Gentle Scrubbing: Gently scrub the yellowed areas in a circular motion.
- Rinse Thoroughly: After cleaning, make sure to wipe the cabinets with a damp cloth to remove any cleaner residue.
- Dry Completely: Use a clean, dry cloth to dry the cabinets thoroughly.
How to restore Yellowed Cabinets
Repainting and Priming
If you find that your white kitchen cabinets have already yellowed, consider sanding them down and applying a primer coat.
This preps the surface for a finish coat of high-quality paint, such as latex paints or alkyd paints.
This can give it a lasting clean look.
Seeking Professional Assistance
If you are not sure about the DIY route, professional cleaners come ready with specialized cleaning products.
They can expertly handle even the most harder stains, restoring the cabinets to their former glory.
White kitchen cabinets remain an iconic choice for both homeowners and interior designers.
They not only make things look better in the cooking space but also give a neutral undertone.
However, like all things, they need care and attention.
By understanding the causes behind their discoloration and doing preventive measures, it’s possible to maintain the original appearance for years.
With proper care, attention to materials, routine maintenance, and occasional touch-ups, your kitchen’s white cabinets can remain a proof of timeless beauty and elegance.
FAQS(Frequently Asked Questions)
What are the most common reasons for yellowing?
The primary reasons include exposure to sunlight, aging, effects of cooking, moisture, cleaning agents, and environmental factors like smoking.
Can yellowed cabinets be restored to their original color?
Yes, through methods like cleaning, repainting, or refinishing. However, in severe cases, replacement might be the best option.
Are certain materials more prone to yellowing than others?
Yes, materials like laminate and MDF can be more susceptible to yellowing compared to solid wood or painted cabinets.
How often should I clean and maintain my cabinets to prevent yellowing?
It’s best to wipe down cabinets regularly, at least once a week, to prevent grease and moisture buildup.
Deep cleaning can be done every few months.
Is there any protective coating to prevent yellowing?
Yes, UV protective coatings can help prevent yellowing due to sun exposure.
Sealing cabinets can also protect against moisture and other environmental factors.
What is the cost implication of refinishing vs. replacing yellowed cabinets?
Refinishing is typically less expensive than replacing. However, if cabinets are extensively damaged or very old, replacement might be a more cost-effective long-term solution.
I’ve moved into a new house with a lighter shade of kitchen cabinets. Why are they turning yellow?
Moving into a new house is exciting, but even in new homes, lighter shades of kitchen cabinets can start turning yellow due to various factors.
It might be the direct sunlight exposure, the type of clear coats used, or even exposure to cooking grease.
What’s the best way to maintain the pristine look of my kitchen whites?
The best way to maintain your kitchen whites is through regular cleaning.
Using a soft cloth with a mixture of soapy water can effectively remove grease and stains, ensuring your cabinets remain white for longer.
Additionally, ensure they are shielded from direct sunlight and cooking fumes.
Is there a connection between the color kitchen I have and the yellowing of my cabinets?
Absolutely. In a color kitchen setting, if you have a light color palette or lighter shades, any discoloration becomes more apparent.
Yellowing can be due to multiple reasons – it might be from cooking, sun exposure, or even the type of paint used.
Could the whole thing be due to a faulty product or paint?
Yes, sometimes the cause behind cabinets turning yellow might be a faulty product.
If the clear coats or paint used was of inferior quality or not applied correctly, it can lead to discoloration.
It’s essential to ensure that high-quality products, especially those resistant to UV rays and moisture, are used in your kitchen.
How can I reverse the yellowing and restore the original look of my cabinets?
If your cabinets are turning yellow, first try cleaning them with a soft cloth and soapy water to see if it’s surface stains causing the discoloration.
If the issue persists, it might be due to the underlying paint or finish.
In such cases, considering a fresh coat of paint or consulting a professional can be the best way forward.
This post was about yellowing kitchen cabinets