How to Remove Different Types of Kitchen Cabinet Drawers

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Every part of your kitchen plays an important role in organizing, including your cabinet drawers. That’s why when it’s time to deep clean your kitchen, it’s important to handle your drawers carefully to avoid damaging its sliding mechanism.

It can feel a little daunting to remove your kitchen cabinet drawers, especially the ones that need some force to be taken out. How do you know which techniques to use to remove kitchen cabinet drawers? Here are the different types of kitchen cabinet drawers and the safest ways to take them out.

How to Remove Your Kitchen Cabinet Drawers

There are various types of drawer slides, so it’s important to first identify what specific type of drawer you’re working with. Once you have that down, follow the step by step instructions provided on how to properly take your drawer out. For your safety, remember to leave a slight opening so you can take all the items out of your drawer before completely pulling it out. Typically, you start from the top drawer and then work your way down.

Regular Bottom Slides

How to Identify: These drawer slides are often used in formal-themed rooms. A drawer with bottom-mount slides consists of two metal cabinet slides on both sides under the drawer. These metal slides cannot be seen when the drawer is pulled open.  

  1. Pull the drawer slides out as far as it can go. Try to feel the sides and under the drawer to check if there is a lever or button to release the slide, since some bottom slides have this.
  2. If there is a lever of a button, press it. You should hear a click and the drawer can easily snap from the slides.
  3. If there is no lever or button, wiggle the drawer slightly forward. Lift the drawer slightly until you hear a click. This should remove the bottom slides from the slides attached to the cabinet. You can now pull the drawer out.

Free-Rolling or Wooden Glide Drawers

How to Identify: These are a common type of drawer glide commonly seen among older furniture. If you’re removing the drawer of an old wooden cabinet, check if the drawer opens smoothly. If it doesn’t, it might be a free-rolling or wooden glide drawer.

  1. Pull the drawer out as far as it can go. If the drawer doesn’t have a stopper, it can come out with no resistance.
  2. If the drawer has a stopper, tilt the drawer fronts downwards so that the back lifts slightly from the slides. This can lift the wood stopper or piece of plastic from the slide grooves that is stopping the drawer from fully going out.
  3. With both hands supporting both sides of the drawer, give it a firm tug and pull it towards you.

Metal-Glide Drawers with Levers

How to Identify: These are drawers with visible metal slides and levers on the outer sides of the drawer. You should be able to see a lever around the center point where the sliders attached to the cabinet are attached to the drawer. The lever should look like a curved metal you can move.

  1. Open the drawer as far as it can go.
  2. Find the track levers on both sides and press both of them down (or up) at the same time. This can be in the form of a straight or curved lever or a release latch towards the back of the drawer. Make sure to do this with your thumbs while keeping the rest of your fingers under the drawer for support.
  3. Some drawers require you to hold down the levers while pulling it out, while others will release the drawer with an audible click. Pull the drawer straight out.

Drawers with Screw-On Stabilizers

How to Identify: These are the drawers with metal tracks on the side of the drawer, but no levers. If you try to tilt the front of the drawer up or down, it won’t move. If this is the case, check if there is a screw on the metal track side. If there is a screw, then the drawers are likely attached to the slide.

  1. Slide the drawer all the way out. Identify if it’s a screw-on stabilizer and find the stabilizer screw. It’s usually towards the front side of the drawer.
  2. Use a screwdriver to remove each screw from their screw hole and set them aside. Check if there are additional screws.
  3. Find the catch tabs on both sides of the drawer. This is the part that is holding the drawer’s metal tracks and the slides of the cabinet together. Lift up the front part of the drawers, and the drawer should lift up on the catch tabs on both sides.
  4. Pull the drawer out the rest of the way.

Soft-Close Drawer Slides

How to Identify: Also known as self-closing drawer slides, these are often used in custom high-end cabinets and modern kitchen drawers that don’t use the traditional rollers, rails, and locking mechanism types. If you try slamming your drawers shut, it can gently slide the last few inches closed even at the slightest touch. This is meant to prevent possible damage.

  1. Pull the drawer open as far as possible until the guides are fully extended.
  2. Check each drawer guide at the sides or at the bottom to see if there’s a clip or lever on one or both sides.
  3. If there’s a clip, remove the clips and then, with both hands supporting the bottom of the drawer, pull the drawer out.
  4. If there are levers, pull the levers down or up simultaneously and pull the drawer out.
  5. If it doesn’t budge, try tilting the drawer downward until it releases.

Drawers with Anti-Tip Mechanism

How to Identify: Some detached kitchen cabinet furniture has cables attached that can prevent multiple drawers from opening to prevent the cabinet from tipping over. If you can’t open all the cabinets at the same time, you’re dealing with an anti-tip drawer.

  1. Pull the top drawer out as far as it can go. You’ll find the anti-tip cable at the back of the drawer. Use a screwdriver to unscrew the cable.
  2. On either side of the metal tracks, usually near the end of the metal tracks and the cabinet sliders, locate and press the disconnect tabs at the same time.
  3. While your thumbs are holding down the disconnect tabs, use your other fingers to support both sides under the drawer.
  4. Pull the drawer out. Tilt the drawer upwards if there is some resistance.

Cleaning Your Kitchen Drawers

Custom kitchen cabinetry with a maple drawer pulled out for demonstration

Removing your kitchen drawers can be essential when you’re trying to deep-clean your kitchen. It’s not enough to just wipe away the grease and debris on the front side of your cabinet. There can also be dirt, dust, and other debris building up around your cabinets, especially if they’re built-into your kitchen counters. Ideally, deep cleaning your kitchen is done at least twice a year(every 6 months), including your cabinets, drawers, and other pieces of furniture and storage spaces in your kitchen.  

Here are some tips when cleaning your kitchen drawers, from what to do to what you should avoid.

  • Empty your drawers before taking them out. This is for safety reasons, as pulling out a full drawer when jerked open can cause some things to fall out, especially for shallow drawers. Heavy drawers with items can also tip over quickly when pulled to its max. Without the supports of the slides, the drawer weight can stress its own joints and cause damage. To avoid this, remove all drawer clutter and replace it after you return the drawer back into the drawer slot.
  • Start at the top drawer. If you’re taking out drawers from built-in cabinets or a kitchen base cabinet, this may not be an issue. But if you’re using detached furniture cabinets, starting at the bottom can make the base lighter and the top drawers heavier, which can cause the cabinet to tip over. If your cabinet furniture tends to tip over, avoid opening all drawers at the same time.
  • Use a gentle cleaning solution. If your cabinets are made with wood or any other softer material, it’s best to use cleaners with non-damaging formulas . Abrasive cleaners used for sinks and countertops can ruin the finish of your drawers, which can decrease its visual appeal. Use non-abrasive cleaners or cleaners specifically designed for your drawer’s material. If you want to try to DIY a cleaning solution, mix 1 part dishwashing soap or vinegar and 2 parts hot water. Not only can this clean your drawers, but it can also help get rid of stubborn grease stuck to the front of your drawers.
  • Use an old toothbrush. For the outside areas of your drawers, you can use a rag or regular cleaning brush. But for cabinets and drawers with ornate edges, you can use an old toothbrush to reach tough areas. For softer materials like laminate, avoid scrubbing too hard, or you could damage the finish.
  • Rinse and dry completely before replacing. Use a slightly damp cloth to rinse out your cleaning solution. Start from the top of your cabinets and work your way down, then use a dry cloth to remove any excess moisture on your cabinets and drawers to dry completely before replacing your drawers back in. Avoid air drying your cabinets and drawers, as this can cause damage, especially if they’re made with materials like wood.

Some of the practices you should avoid include:

  • Soaking your cabinets. Use a damp rag or microfiber cloth to wipe away the dust and other debris on your drawers, but make sure the rag isn’t too drenched. Applying too much moisture on your cabinets (especially if they’re made of wood or any other porous material like laminate) can damage the paint and finish and may even cause the drawers to warp over time. Make sure to use a second dry rag to wipe away the excess moisture.
  • Wet the metal slides and hinges. Avoid wetting metal parts of your cabinets and drawers like the hinges, metal tracks, and slides. This can cause these parts to rust, which can make it difficult to open your drawers over time. Instead, use a brush, old toothbrush, or dry cloth to remove the dust gathered on the metal areas.
  • Forgetting to deep clean your cabinets and drawers. Ideally, you should deep clean these (and the rest of your kitchen) at least every six months. This can help you declutter, re-organize your kitchen tools, and remove the dirt or debris that accumulate in your kitchen.

Design Your Dream Kitchen with Zothex Flooring

Zothex Flooring Rocklin Location 2

You can avoid damaging your drawers if you remove them properly. A little bit of force when you pull can help you get it out eventually, but it’s always best to start by identifying the type of drawer slide you’re working with to get it out efficiently.

At Zothex Flooring, we offer quality custom cabinets and drawers to add character and style to any kitchen. Every cabinet we engineer is built to last and is backed by a lifetime warranty. Whether you’re looking for easy-to-clean, soft-close, or any other unique feature that matches your aesthetic and practical needs, we can help you design the kitchen of your dreams. Contact us today to discuss your kitchen remodeling plans. 

Learn More: How to Install Filler Strips Between Kitchen Cabinets

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