How To Remove Kitchen Drawers [A Complete Guide]

At some point, all homeowners experience the need to remove the drawers from their kitchen cabinets. On older cabinets, this can be a hazardous chore, as there are no built-in protections to keep the drawers from pulling all the way out of their receptacles and falling on your toes. Modern cabinets, however, feature special mechanisms that stop the drawers before they fall. So, how do you remove these drawers? We've done the research, and we have the answers for you!

These are the basic steps for removing modern kitchen drawers:

  1. Stand in front of the kitchen drawer unit, far enough away that the drawer can open fully.
  2. Gently pull the drawer all the way open until it reaches its stop point.
  3. Examine the sides and bottom of the drawer until you locate the levers or latches that hold the drawer's rail guides to the glides/runners attached to the interior of the cabinet.
  4. Grasp the drawer near the middle, with one hand on each side.
  5. Trip the levers or squeeze the latches, releasing the drawer's rail guides from the glides/runners.
  6. Lift the drawer away from the glides/runners.
  7. Set the drawer on a counter or on the floor.
  8. Gently push the extended glides/runners back into the cabinet's drawer cavity.

In the remainder of this article, we'll give you detailed, step-by-step directions for removing and returning kitchen drawers that have side glides or dual bottom glides. We'll also explain how to remove and return Wren and IKEA brand kitchen drawers. And we'll discuss older kitchen drawers that slide on a single, central glide and those that have no glides at all. Keep reading to learn all about removing and returning kitchen drawers!

A ceramic dishware and cutlery in kitchen drawers, How To Remove Kitchen Drawers [A Complete Guide]

How To Remove Kitchen Drawers

There are several reasons why you might need to remove drawers from your kitchen cabinets:

  • Thoroughly cleaning them.
  • Repairing and/or adjusting them.
  • Painting them.
  • Accessing lower drawers that are stuck due to objects inside them sticking up too far.

Set of ceramic tableware in kitchen drawers

Below, we describe how to remove the most common types of modern kitchen drawers. Although the methods vary for each type of drawer, here are a few guidelines that apply across the board:

  • Take all items out of the drawer before beginning work. Otherwise, the weight of the drawer's contents could damage the rails and glides, or cause you to drop the drawer after removing it.
  • If you're removing more than one drawer, start with the one on the top, then work your way down.
  • Never yank, jerk, or slam the drawers; this can damage the rails and glides.

How To Remove Kitchen Drawers With Side Glides

Tray of spoons installation on kitchen drawer

Metal side glides are the most common type of drawer slide. They consist of a rail guide attached to each side of the drawer and glides attached to the insides of the cabinetry. A release lever on each side keeps the drawer from accidentally pulling out too far.

Removing Drawers With Side Glides

If your kitchen drawers have side glides, follow these steps to remove them:

  1. Stand in front of the drawer, far enough from it to allow it to open fully.
  2. Gently pull the drawer open until it reaches its stop point. The metal glides attached to the inside of the cabinet will also come partway out of the drawer opening.
  3. Place one hand on each side of the drawer, just in front of the stop point.
  4. Place your thumbs on the release levers (located just in front of the stop point on each side of the drawer).
  5. Push down on the two release levers simultaneously. (On some models, you must push down on the left-hand lever and up on the right-hand lever to release the drawer.)
  6. Pull the drawer straight out until the side rail guides are clear of the glides.
  7. Place the drawer on a counter or on the floor.
  8. The metal glides will still be sticking out from the cabinet; gently push them back in.

Returning Drawers With Side Glides

To return the kitchen drawers to their place in your kitchen cabinets, follow these steps:

  1. Stand in front of the opening in the cabinet where the drawer belongs.
  2. Place one hand on either side of the drawer, a few inches behind the drawer face.
  3. With your index fingers, push the left- and right-hand levers up and hold them in that position.
  4. Maneuver the rail guide on each side of the drawer into the glide on the inside of the cabinet.
  5. When both side rail guides are seated in the glides, release the levers.
  6. Gently slide the drawer shut.

Click here for this kitchen buffet with side-glide drawers on Amazon.

How To Remove Kitchen Drawers With Bottom Metal Glides

Some brands of contemporary kitchen cabinets feature drawers with two metal glides mounted on the bottom, one on each side. The rail guides on the bottom of each drawer fit into L-shaped glides attached to the inside of the cabinet structure.

Removing Drawers With Bottom Glides

If your kitchen drawers have a pair of bottom metal glides, remove the drawers by following these steps:

  1. Stand in front of the drawer, far enough from it to allow it to open fully.
  2. Gently pull the drawer all the way open until it reaches its stop point. The L-shaped metal glides mounted inside the cabinet will come all the way out of the drawer opening, as well.
  3. Place one hand on each side of the drawer, just behind its front face.
  4. Place your fingers on the release latches (located at the front of the drawer's bottom, one on each side).
  5. Simultaneously squeeze both latches.
  6. Pull the drawer straight out and lift it off the glides.
  7. Place the drawer on a counter or on the floor.
  8. The metal glides will still be sticking out from the cabinet; gently push them back in.

Returning Drawers With Bottom Glides

To return the kitchen drawers to their place in your kitchen cabinets, follow these steps:

  1. Stand in front of the opening in the cabinet where the drawer belongs.
  2. Place one hand on either side of the drawer, a few inches behind the drawer face.
  3. Set the drawer on the two bottom glides, making sure that the bottom rail guides fit into the slides.
  4. Gently slide the drawer all the way shut. The bottom latches should click into place.

Click here for these bottom glides on Amazon.

How To Remove Wren Kitchen Drawers

The Wren kitchen cabinet line is built in the United Kingdom. Wren drawers feature rail guides and runners that are concealed within the sides of the drawers. The rail guides and runners are connected by special spring clips.

Removing Wren Kitchen Drawers

If you have Wren kitchen drawers, you can remove them by following these steps:

  1. Stand in front of the drawer.
  2. Pull the drawer open partway.
  3. Grasp the front face of the drawer, with both hands under the bottom of the front face.
  4. Pull up sharply on the front of the drawer. You should hear a click, indicating that the spring clips holding the drawer rail guides have disconnected the guides from the runners.
  5. Lift the drawer up and away from the runners.
  6. Place the drawer on a counter or on the floor, and push the runners back into the cabinet's drawer cavity.

Returning Wren Kitchen Drawers

To return the drawer to its place, do the following:

  1. Pull the runners from the cabinet's drawer cavity until they are fully extended.
  2. Set the drawer on the runners, making sure the rail guides on the bottom of the drawer are seated in the grooves of the runners.
  3. Each runner has a flange protruding just behind the drawer's front; make sure these flanges are pointing forward.
  4. Push the drawer about three-quarters shut.
  5. Place your hands on top of the front face of the drawer.
  6. Push down sharply on the front of the drawer, until you hear a click. This indicates that the spring clips have re-engaged.
  7. Push the drawer shut.

How To Remove IKEA Kitchen Drawers

Freestanding IKEA furniture is popular in kitchens. Its drawers feature a special mechanism that allows owners to adjust the position of the drawer face horizontally and vertically. This same mechanism includes a lever that releases the guide rails from the runners. Removing an IKEA kitchen drawer is more complicated than removing other types of drawers because you must take off the drawer face before you can release the guide rails.

Removing IKEA Kitchen Drawers

To remove an IKEA kitchen drawer, follow these steps:

  1. Stand in front of the cabinet, far enough away to allow the drawer to open fully.
  2. Gently pull the drawer all the way open until it reaches its stop point.
  3. On the right-hand side of the drawer, at the front, pry the rubber cover off the latching mechanism. This will reveal four holes where parts of the latching mechanism are visible.
  4. Insert a Phillips-head screwdriver into the top-center hole; push up the small latch inside that hole and insert the screwdriver under the latch.
  5. Rotate the screwdriver clockwise. This releases the latch that holds the drawer's front face in place.
  6. Repeat steps 3 through 5 on the left-hand side of the drawer.
  7. Remove the drawer front by pulling it straight out. This exposes the latch that connects the rail guides on the sides of the drawer to the glides.
  8. Insert the Phillips-head screwdriver into the gap on the right-hand side and push up the latch until you hear a click, indicating that the rail guide has disconnected from the glide.
  9. Repeat on the left-hand side of the drawer. Both rail guides are now detached from the glides.
  10. Pull the drawer straight out until it is free of the glides.
  11. Set the drawer on a counter or on the floor.
  12. Push the glides back into the cabinet's drawer cavity.

Returning IKEA Kitchen Drawers

Follow these steps to return an IKEA kitchen drawer to its place:

  1. Pull the glides straight out of the drawer cavity, to their maximum extension.
  2. Slide the drawer onto the glides, until you hear the click of the latches that connect the rail guides to the glides.
  3. Replace the front face of the drawer, sliding the metal latching mechanism on each side into place until it clicks.
  4. On each side of the drawer, replace the rubber cover over the latching mechanism.
  5. Slide the drawer shut.

Click here for this IKEA Alex freestanding drawer unit on Amazon.

How To Remove Kitchen Drawers With A Single Bottom Glide

All modern kitchen drawers have mechanisms like those described above, to stop them from accidentally pulling out of their cavities. However, if you have older kitchen cabinets, they may not have these sophisticated safety features. Many kitchen drawers manufactured from the 1950s through the 1970s have a single metal rail guide attached to the bottom center of the drawer, and a stationary glide within the cabinet's drawer cavity.

Removing Kitchen Drawers With Single Bottom Glide

Use care when removing one of these drawers: there is no latch or lever to stop the drawer from pulling all the way out and dropping on your foot or on the floor. Follow these steps:

  1. Stand in front of the cabinet, far enough away to allow the drawer to slide all the way out.
  2. Pull the drawer about 3/4 of the way out.
  3. Hold the drawer handle/knob in one hand; place the other hand under the bottom of the drawer.
  4. Pull the drawer straight out, supporting its weight with the hand under the drawer's bottom.
  5. At the moment the drawer exits the cavity, you may need to jiggle it side-to-side or up-and-down to get the guide rail free from the slide.
  6. Set the drawer on a counter or on the floor.

Returning Kitchen Drawers With Single Bottom Glide

To return one of these older, single-glide drawers to its place, follow these steps:

  1. Stand in front of the cabinet with the drawer in your hands.
  2. Insert the back end of the drawer into the cabinet's drawer cavity.
  3. Maneuver the drawer side-to-side or up-and-down until the guide rail on the bottom of the drawer engages with the slide inside the cabinet.
  4. Push the drawer straight back until it closes.

How To Remove Kitchen Drawers With No Slides

If your kitchen cabinets are more than forty years old and/or homemade, there may be no slides at all for the drawers. Instead, the structure of the cabinet includes 1" x 2" slats that lie under both sides and, often, one in the center of the drawer cavity. The drawer slides on these smooth slats. Follow these steps to remove one of these kitchen drawers:

  1. Stand in front of the drawer, far enough away for the drawer to open fully.
  2. Gently pull the drawer about three-quarters of the way out.
  3. Grasp the drawer in the middle, with one hand on either side.
  4. Pull the drawer the rest of the way out. If necessary, jiggle it side-to-side or up-and-down to maneuver it out of the drawer cavity.
  5. Place the drawer on a counter or on the floor.

How To Replace Kitchen Drawers With No Slides

  1. Stand in front of the cabinet, holding the drawer in both hands, near its middle.
  2. Insert the back end of the drawer into the cabinet's drawer cavity.
  3. Maneuver the drawer side-to-side or up-and-down until its back edge fits securely into the cavity.
  4. Push the drawer straight back until it closes.

In Closing

The safety features in modern kitchen drawers more than make up for the added difficulty in removing and replacing them. Although many homeowners struggle to figure out how to remove their kitchen drawers, by following the guidelines above, you can accomplish this task quickly and easily.

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