How to Clean Rusty Cabinet Hinges

Hinges are an often overlooked part of cabinets and subsequent decor. If not maintained properly, they can stick and rust, making it both difficult and noisy when you attempt to open the door.

Cabinet hinges are susceptible to rust, but this is an easy problem to fix.  Clean cabinet hinges by scrubbing with a steel wool pad, soap, and water.  After that, either grease the hinges before reinstalling or paint them to match the rest of the cabinet hardware and add a spot of color.

Dirty and rusty cabinet hinges are a common problem, and one that often goes unnoticed in our busy lives. Even so, there are effective ways to clean your rusty cabinet hinges you may not know about. Keep reading to learn more about how to clean and repair rusty cabinet hinges.

A Quick Way to Remove Rust From Cabinet Hinges

Cleaning rusty cabinet hinges is a fairly straightforward and easy process, but it also depends on the type of cabinet and the size of said cabinet. 

If you want to clean the hinges without removing them from the cabinet, you will need to use some masking tape around the edges of the hinges and put a cloth underneath the cabinet.

This is to prevent scraping of the cabinet paint and to prevent any cleaning product from dripping on the floor.

Once the cabinets and underlying surface are protected, spray some of the cleaner onto the hinges and begin scrubbing. It will take some time, but the combination of steel wool and the right cleaner will make the rust come right off.

After you have finished scrubbing the hinges, it is good to wipe them with a damp cloth to remove residue. In some cases, these simple steps are not enough, so you may need to consider removing and cleaning your rusty cabinet hinges to get the job done.

How to Remove & Clean Rusty Cabinet Hinges

To properly clean and repair rusty cabinet hinges, sometimes it is best to remove them. Removing cabinet hinges is simple to do: find the appropriate size screwdriver, and remove the screws holding the hinge plate to the cabinet doors. Set the doors somewhere safe, then remove the screws holding the hinges to the cabinet. 

Once you have removed all the hinges, then set them on the workbench or wherever you have chosen as a work surface. There are a few methods you can use for cleaning; you can soak them in a container of your chosen cleaner then scrub them, or spray them before scrubbing.

This is also a good time to clean the screws. Having clean hinges does no good if the screws are rusty and old. Remove the screws and soak them in hot water and white vinegar. This will remove the rust from the threads and leave them shining. You can also spray them with some WD-40 and scrub them. Or just replace them.

White vinegar and a steel wool pad works quite well on just about any household cabinet hinge; dip the hinge in the vinegar, then scrub until the rust is gone. After scrubbing them, rinse them and let them sit for a few hours in a dry container to see if any new rust appears. You may want to repaint the hinges once they are clean.

On Cleaning Rusty Cabinet Hinges Without Removal

It is also possible to clean cabinet hinges without removing them from the doors or cabinet; this will just be a little more time consuming. Place some masking tape around the hinges to prevent the paint on the doors or cabinet body from being scraped off, then apply the chosen cleaner and scrub with steel wool until the rust is gone.

Keep in mind this method will not remove all the rust, as you will still have to work around the cabinets and their doors still being attached, but it will remove most of the rust and last until you can take the doors and hinges off to clean them properly.

Best Cleaning Methods

There are several methods available for cleaning rusty cabinet door hinges. The level of wear on your hinges and the supplies you have on hand may make one approach more preferable or convenient than the others.

  • Spray cleaner at the hinges and scrub them with steel wool.  This will remove the rust, especially if you remove the hinges from the cabinets before doing so.
  • Remove the hinges from the cabinet, put them in a container of your chosen cleaner, and let them soak for a while to loosen the rust.  After that you can pull them out of the cleaner and scrub them; the rust should come right off.
  • Leave the hinges attached, put masking tape around the edges, spray some cleaner and scrub.  This method will not remove all rust, as you will need to work around cabinet doors and the cabinets themselves, but it is the simplest method and requires no tools.

You can also opt to scrub the hinges with sandpaper, although this will remove any paint that was previously there. However, you can use this as an opportunity to prime and repaint your cabinet hinges, if they have rusted to the point of needing to be scrubbed with steel wool or sandpaper. 

Lubricate Your Hinges

Hinges on any type of cabinet will rust and squeak if they are not lubricated properly.  Believe it or not, Vaseline works quite well for lubricating cabinet hinges. Rub a little on the hinges and open the door a few times to work it into the moving parts, and they will be protected for quite some time.

WD-40 is the other obvious choice; almost every household has some on hand and if not, it is readily available at many locations. Simply spray a little on the hinges, open the door a few times to lubricate them and they will not squeak anymore.

If you want serious, long-lasting protection for your hinges, consider Permatex white lithium grease. Permatex is rustproof, does not drip and will not leave residue on the hinges either. Just keep in mind that Permatex is quite flammable, so do not apply it near a flame source.

Finally, PB Blaster is one of the best lubricants out there. If your hinges are rusty, tough to open or squeaky, apply some of this. PB Blaster will remove rust with some scrubbing and also lubricate the hinges so they move smoothly and without squeaking. It will leave some residue, however, so use sparingly, as a little goes a long way.

Repainting Clean Hinges

Once you are done cleaning your rusty hinges, you may want to consider repainting them, so that they are protected and do not rust any further, or rust again once you have cleaned them. You will need to sand and prime the hinges; this is best done with medium grit sandpaper. 

Clean the hinges before sanding them. Once you have done that, spray them with metal specific rust inhibiting primer. Rustoleum works very well for this and the primer comes in a variety of colors if you want to add some color to your cabinets.  You will need two coats of primer. 

Once you have done that, choose your paint color, make sure the paint is metal specific, and spray the hinges. They will need two coats of paint, and the paint needs to dry for 24 hours before they can be reinstalled.

You can repaint the screws as well. You will need to follow the same steps for cleaning the hinges, and once that is done you can repaint the screws in the same way. Be careful not to get too much paint on the screw heads, or it will be difficult to tighten them down afterward. 


Cleaning rusty cabinet hinges and screws is an easy process. Adding a fresh coat of paint to the cleaning process will give you nice, clean hinges and screws. Cleaning rusty cabinet hinges is not as difficult as you may think, so take the initiative and get started today.