Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.
A kitchen is often a bustling place because cooking can require a lot of tools and cleanup. So, you’re probably wondering how to make it easier to open your kitchen drawers. They should work properly anyway, but especially when you’re in a hurry. Fortunately, sticky kitchen drawers are a fairly common problem with more than a few fixes. We have carefully researched various ways to help make your kitchen drawers slide more easily.
The best solution to make your kitchen drawers slide correctly again can change based on the track material. Some drawers use the standard metal drawer slides for their durability. Others may rely on plastic runners and rollers, or even just plain wooden tracks. So, different approaches may be necessary, such as:
- Silicone Spray Lubricant
- Drawer Sliding Tape
- White Lithium Grease
- Paraffin Wax
- Car Wax
- Candles or Soap
Sticky kitchen drawers only worsen over time, so it’s important to fix them sooner than later. Luckily, there are more than a few commercial and DIY solutions to those pesky, sticking drawers. Keep reading to learn which lubricant or tape is best for different kinds of kitchen drawers, including soft close drawers.
How do you unstick wooden drawers?
Most drawers are made out of wood, regardless of the sliding mechanism they have. Unfortunately, wood tends to get swollen and warped as temperatures change. The typical humidity of summer seasons can easily cause wood to expand. And because it has no lubrication of its own, the wood will be too large to continue sliding normally.
First, determine if your kitchen drawers are made of wood. The next thing you have to do is make sure there isn’t a mechanical problem. Your drawer might be sticking because it was not attached properly or the runners aren’t level.
Finally, simply determine the material of their tracks. Then, you can find a suitable approach to lubricate or unstick the kitchen drawers.
Drawer Lubricant Options
Can you use WD-40 on wood drawers?
The “WD” in WD-40 actually stands for water displacement, which means that it isn’t primarily designed for lubrication. It just happens to have slippery properties because WD-40 is mainly intended to break down or prevent rust.
However, WD-40 is also safe to use on pretty much any material. So, you can technically use WD-40 to lubricate sealed wood. But this will not permanently fix the issue. Although it can successfully unstick the kitchen drawers, WD-40 likely won’t hold up over time.
Also, WD-40 can potentially remove the paint or finish on your wood. Remember that WD-40 will naturally penetrate things. So, it might be difficult to refinish or repaint any areas that are affected by stray WD-40 during the spraying process.
Silicone Spray Lubricant
This is the proper alternative to WD-40, which does not contain silicone. Any brand of silicone spray is specially designed to help lubricate surfaces. This can be used for both metal and wood, although silicone can sometimes make it difficult to apply finish on the wood later on.
Silicone spray can also maintain its lubrication through any temperature changes, and it won’t oxidize. When some lubricants oxidize, it means they have had a chemical reaction with oxygen that wears it down. If used properly, some silicone sprays can potentially last for years. Also, the right silicone won’t collect dirt, which would otherwise cause problems over time.
Silicone is unusually versatile and strong, so it's even used for other kitchen items such as oven mitts. You can read this post to learn if silicone oven mitts are better than alternatives.
Drawer Sliding Tape
There are multiple kinds of tape that can help drawers slide properly. They each use different materials such as polyethylene, silicone, or nylon.
You can apply a self-adhesive strip of tape to the wooden drawer’s runners and any areas they come into contact with. Every time you pull the drawer open, the tape strips will make contact instead of bare wood. This makes sliding tape an ideal option for wooden drawers that only rely on wood tracks.
The only thing you have to do is prepare the surfaces for adhesion. This generally involves sanding and cleaning the wood so that your tape will bond properly.
White Lithium Grease
This type of grease lubricant is easier when you need to work with smaller targets. Like silicone, it can even resist water and heat.
White lithium grease will stick very effectively because of its thickness, which lithium can provide. But it can also be sprayed in an aerosol form. This makes it more ideal for metal on metal contact, such as the two sliding components of a drawer runner.
However, keep in mind that grease is often known to collect dust and dirt. If the white lithium grease isn’t specially designed to resist grime, then you may have to clean up sawdust and use a degreaser soon after the application.
Paraffin wax is often derived from petroleum, and it can be used to lubricate just about anything. This makes it ideal for most kitchen drawers since the area might include different materials coming into contact.
Paraffin won’t collect any dirt, and it will naturally resist water. This is great for wood, but paraffin can also benefit metal surfaces. Specialists such as Products Finishing advise that paraffin wax is a powerful lubricant that will extend the life of metallic tools. Paraffin actually has to be completely removed to allow any kind of adhesion.
You can potentially use car wax for a quick fix when you don’t want to invest in new lubrication. Car wax is something you might just have lying around, making this something of a DIY solution.
Most car wax products today are actually a blend of useful lubricants. They might have beeswax, petroleum, or carnauba wax. Carnauba is especially useful because it’s considered to be one of the hardest waxes available. But it won’t cause a mess, as most waxes do. This can make it easier to work with on smaller areas, like kitchen drawers.
Some car wax products may use silicone, making it challenging to apply a wood finish. But carnauba wax itself is more flexible.
Candles or Soap
Car wax isn’t the only DIY answer for kitchen drawers that stick. If you want to use something that’s already lying around the house, you can actually use candles or a plain bar of soap.
Some old, unwanted candles can potentially lubricate your drawers and drawer runners. That’s because many candles are actually made of paraffin wax, which is already a useful lubricant. Just bear in mind that some candles may become a little too thick over time, especially with warmer temperatures. That can cause a wholly new sticky problem.
You might also use an ordinary bar of soap. You would simply need to break off a piece of the soap and rub it onto the runners. Just make sure that the soap is completely dry. Otherwise, moisture will soak into the wood and cause serious damage. Over time, it may even develop mold.
The soap is more ideal for wood and plastic. There are actually oil based soaps that are specifically designed for wood. But soap can usually work on metal, too. Bear in mind that soap will not permanently unstick your drawers.
Why are soft close drawers hard to open?
Soft close drawers have a more complicated runner system. That’s because they include a damper seal, which is the key tool that stops the drawer from slamming shut. So, the point of a soft close drawer is to create resistance. This is often achieved by using a spring and piston system. You can refer to this video to see how soft close drawers work:
Unfortunately, this also means that it is natural for most soft close drawers to resist your pull at first. In exchange, you don’t have to worry about your fingers getting caught, knocking items over, or damaging the wood.
How do you fix a soft close drawer mechanism?
Soft close drawers can easily end up getting stuck because of a mechanical issue. First of all, you should double check that the runners are actually even. It’s easy for the complex runners to get installed at an odd angle.
Most of the time, uneven runners are your culprit. If you can find an incline on the runners, then they need to be adjusted. This incline will disrupt the mechanisms and make it tough to open the kitchen drawers.
The trick to removing your soft close drawers is to pull the drawer out completely, pull up on the tabs, and then lift upwards. Now you can freely try to remove the runners and evenly install them again.
Or, you might simply have to clean out the spring and piston system, then add lubricant to them. Try to use the runners without the drawer. The spring and piston system should still allow the outer slide to safely catch the other. If they don’t, then the mechanism is probably faulty or dirty.
If cleaning this area doesn’t fix the problem, then they should be replaced. Check out "How To Restore Kitchen Cabinets And Fix Worn Spots" if you are working on kitchen maintenance.
Whether you’re cooking for the whole family or rushing to work in the morning, the kitchen should make your life easier. Now that you know how to fix most types of drawers and their tracks, you’ll know the best solution for your own kitchen. So, you won’t have to worry about struggling with nearly any kind of drawer.