How do I remove paint from cabinets?

Our kitchen cabinets had been painted by the previous home owner, and while I applaud the DIY attempt the wrong paint and brush were unfortunately used.


They worked hard on it and it didnt come out how I imagined they planned. We have ALL been there.

(Cue my moms half bath that I totally painted the bead board with the wrong paint. Sorry, Mom!)

How do I remove paint from cabinets?
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Why You Want to Strip Painted Cabinets?

This is what I was working with. Every day the cabinet paint would peel a little more and I was losing it.


How do I remove paint from cabinets?

After much research, I took CitriStrip to the back of one of the cabinet doors. When I saw that it worked on their paint job without destroying the lacker wood cabinets underneath, I went to TOWN.

Within hours I had all of the bottom doors off and soaking in stripper.

How do I remove paint from cabinets?

I compiled multiple Cabinet Stripping and Painting post and video techniques, as well as adding in a few must do steps that Jeff and I have in our back pocket to make you the BEST cabinet stripping and painting tutorial.

Im gathering all my tips, tricks, and mistakes here for you.

Next time you stare at that DIY gone wrong, or even those 90s wood cabinets crying for a touch up Ive got you.

Products I Love for Stripping Cabinets

(and their equivalents)

How do I remove paint from cabinets?


This stripper works just as well as any toxic version, but wont burn your skin off. Thats always a plus in my book. For 9 cabinets and 9 drawer fronts I went through 2.5 64 oz ones. I was heavy handed with it, but I wouldnt go light here.

How do I remove paint from cabinets?

Liquid Sandpaper

Liquid Sandpaper is a clever name for this milky goo-gone-esque product. I liked it a lot and I think for this project, between stripper and fine grit sandpaper, its great.

Youll find it at Home Depot with the paint strippers.

The main place I loved liquid sandpaper, was on the cabinet boxes. I didnt strip those, and I needed to make sure all of the kitchen grease and dust was off of them. Liquid sandpaper did a great job of that.

320 Grit Sandpaper

For the Love. I know after using something called liquid sandpaper its tempting to skip sandpaper all together. Dont.

320 grit is all you need to get into the edges and remove anything left over. I kept the sand paper on hand between coats to smooth out any bumps I found between coats. Its worth it.

How do I remove paint from cabinets?

Tack Cloth

Every single video and post skipped this VITAL step. Jeff lives and dies by the tack cloth.

If you just spent an entire day stripping and liquid sanding, and fine sanding anything, do not skip this few buck step.

Tack Cloth is a gauzy cheese cloth that is super sticky to the touch. It will grab every ounce of dust and grime left on your wood. Youll see them talked about in woodwork videos a lot.

This step is a huge chunk of way the cabinets came out so dang good.

How do I remove paint from cabinets?

Other Items Youll Need:

Rags to wipe off the stripper and then a fresh rag to use for the liquid sandpaper

A Hose or Bucket of Water to rinse of the stripper with your rags


Putty Knife I used a metal one. Some people suggest a plastic one to avoid stabbing at the wood. I say be careful. You will get way more stripper and paint off with a thing metal one and get closer in the edges too.

Old Credit Card You can use this to get into tiny creases., You can even cut up an old credit card to use as a mini putty knife.

Simple Steps to Stripping Cabinets

1| Remove the drawer fronts and cabinet doors. Make sure to label them if you can or keep them in an order as you work. Every hinge is different so youll want to save yourself the headache.

2| Start with the backs. Lay the cabinets face down and cover with a generous amount of stripper.

3| Let that sit for at least 45 minutes. You will see it start to bubble. You want the stripping gel to remain wet looking. It can be left on for 24 hours but I wouldnt do that.

4| Use a putty knife to gently strip off the paint. I prefer the metal putty knifes to get closer tot the board, Go slowly so you are not stabbing the wood.

5| Wipe down with wet rags and then dry rags. Do not put the paint and stripper down the drain. You can rinse the boards lightly with a hose into a bucket. (A trick to disposing of old paint is putting it in with kitty litter to throw in the garbage!)

6| Repeat as necessary.

7| Once the paint is mostly removed, allow the cabinets to dry out. The next steps should be done on dry cabinets.

8| Wipe down with liquid sandpaper using a rag or paper towel. Get into the creases and grooves. This goo-gone-ish milky liquid will help break up paint even further.

9| Let dry again! Patience and prep is everything. Go slow.

10| Use 320 grit sandpaper on dry cabinets to remove all of the excess paint or bumps.

11| Wipe down with a tack cloth to remove all dust, oils, and wood/paint bits

your cabinets are ready for stain or paint!

Because I was painting our cabinets, this was enough stripping of the previous owners paint for us. Once you get it smooth and deglossed you are ready for painting.

Remember that prep is everything! Go slowly!

If you are heading towards staining

Wash, Rinse, Repeat this process until they are smooth and void of paint in every inch.

How do I remove paint from cabinets?
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As for me on to Painting

(post in progress!)

How do I remove paint from cabinets?

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How do I remove paint from cabinets?