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Why do white cabinets turn yellow and how to prevent it

White cabinets turn yellow for many different reasons, including harsh chemicals, cooking grease residue, smoke, and exposure to direct sunlight.

The classic all-white kitchen cabinet aesthetic has always been and continues to be a fan-favorite among homeowners who want their space to have that bright and open look and feel.

However, there are plenty of reasons why the all-white cabinets in your kitchen may start to turn yellow with time. Fortunately, there are also several ways to prevent and fix this.

Benefits of the classic all-white kitchen

There are few designs more classical than the all-white kitchen look, and for good reason.

Painting your kitchen cabinets white or choosing an otherwise all-white design for this space, ensures that your kitchen always appears bright, clean and crisp.

White kitchen cabinets not only help to make a kitchen look and feel brighter, but they can actually help to physically bounce light around the room to make it more functional.

This is why this style of cabinetry has stood the test of time and is still a widespread fan-favorite to this day.

Why do white cabinets turn yellow?

The biggest downside, however, to having these timeless white cabinets installed in your home, is that they do require a bit of extra maintenance and upkeep in order to keep them clean and crisp over time.

You may have noticed that some of your white cabinets have started turning yellow as time goes on, but there is no need to worry about this, as there are plenty of ways to keep this yellowing at bay.

Though you may have initially assumed that your yellowing cabinets were simply grimy, you may have soon come to realize that there are many different reasons why cabinets turn yellow.

In fact, cleaning your cabinets too harshly (instead of too rarely, like most people assume) may actually be the cause of the yellowing.

While it is true that the grease residue and smoke that travel through the air when you are cooking can gradually discolor and stain your cabinets, it is often much more likely that the lighting in the room is more to blame for the cabinets turning yellow, especially if you do make sure to clean them regularly.

In this case, the lighting in your room refers both to warm-toned lighting fixtures and to direct sunlight, which can affect how white paint cures and ages.

Fortunately, this also means that there are plenty of ways to restore your cabinets to their original, pristine white color and to prevent them from turning yellow again in the future.

How to prevent yellowing caused by harsh cleaning chemicals

When you first start noticing a yellow tint on your white cabinets, you may be tempted to jump in with harsh cleaning agents to get rid of any build-up grime or residue.

However, chemicals like bleach and ammonia, even when they have been diluted, can strip back the first, protective layer on your cabinets and cause more harm than good.

This is why it is safest to stick to very mild cleaning agents, like a diluted vinegar mixture, to prevent your cabinets from turning yellow over time.

How to prevent yellowing caused by smoke and grease residue stains

Even if you do not have big spills while cooking, small drops of grease residue still travel through the air while you are cooking. Over time, this residue will build up, which can cause your white cabinets to get a yellow tint.

The same is true for smoke residue, which can also discolor other fixtures in your home gradually.

If you want to avoid using harsh cleaning chemicals, the best way to prevent this kind of yellowing is to install an exhaust fan or a ventilated hood.

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Warm light, sunlight and white cabinets

If you have warm-toned light fixtures in your kitchen to give it a cozy and welcoming feel or mood, this may actually be what is causing your white cabinets to appear yellow.

Fortunately, this is an easy fix and you simply need cooler lighting to make your cabinets look good as new again.

When it comes to sunlight, however, there is much more to consider. Having lots of natural sunlight in your kitchen is great when you want a bright, open look and feel, but white cabinets that are exposed to direct sunlight for large periods of time throughout the day can deteriorate quickly.

As a result, if you notice that some cabinets that are in the direct sun are yellowing quicker than others, you may need to consider repainting the cabinets with a latex water-based paint or diffusing the sunlight with curtains or blinds.

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