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The Best Oil for Dried Cabinets

J. Lang Wood

Wood provides attractive finishes in an array of grain patterns and colors to fit any décor. Wood cabinets require regular maintenance to remove kitchen grease, fingerprints, dirt and residues. Indoor temperatures and direct sunlight can promote the drying of these wood materials, causing cracks in the grain, splitting and other problems. A number of oils can help replenish dried wood cabinets to restore their appearance.

Linseed Oil

The natural oils in wood can dry out from indoor heat and direct sunlight.

Made from the compressed dried seeds of the flax plant, linseed oil is a traditional finishing compound for wood surfaces, often used to as a final coat to enhance wood grain and preserve natural oils in the fibers. Generally, turpentine or naphtha is applied to remove the remaining wax finish, then the cabinets are washed with a solution of Murphy’s Oil Soap and water. Use only enough of the solution on a damp cloth to clean the surface. After the surface dries completely, a generous amount of linseed oil is applied and allowed to soak into the wood for 15 minutes. The excess oil is removed with a clean cloth and the oil allowed to set into the wood for at least 24 hours, according to the website Artisans of the Desert. The cabinets can then be given a protective layer of paste wax.

Tung Oil

Tung oil is another type of oil used to replenish wood and replace oils that are dried out by environmental conditions and ultraviolet light. It is made from the tung tree and pressed from the seed kernels. Tung oil seeps readily into wood, accentuating the grain and giving it a darkened appearance. It is water-resistant and easy to apply. Simply rub it on to lightly saturate the dried wood. Allow the oil to cure for 30 minutes, then wipe off excess oil. Allow the surface to cure for 24 hours, recommends the website Woodwork Details.

Combination Oils

Some experts use a combination of linseed and oils and other ingredients to replenish wood and give it a soft, glowing appearance. Orange and lemon oil products are often combined with petroleum distillates for long-lasting coverage and wear. These products are advertised for use on antiques and other fine furnishings because they won't damage original finishes. Always test new products on a small area of the cabinet before using on a larger area.


When using oil products, carefully dispose of soaked cloths to prevent spontaneous combustion. These products are highly flammable and should not be used around any open flame. Use the products in a well-ventilated area to prevent respiratory problems.