Cabinet Cleanup Options for Ink and Glue

Tried using an orange peel? Cabinetmakers discuss less-noxious cleaning alternatives for on-site work. January 25, 2013

I'm trying to come up with an alternative to using thinners on the job site to clean stuff like glue, felt pen, pencil, etc. off of cabinets and countertops during install. Most of the time you are not in a well-ventilated room and using this stuff is so bad for you. What do you use to clean on the job site?

Forum Responses
(Cabinet and Millwork Installation Forum)
From contributor M:
You could use acetone or mineral spirits. As always, test a small area first. Some solvents will damage the finish. A lot of people also use GOOF-OFF.

From contributor D:
De-Solv-it. Like Goof-off or Goo-gone but way better. Safe on finishes. And it smells like oranges.

From contributor I:
We use thinners where we have to, but use Goof-off or similar products where they will work. Another handy item is the Mr. Clean sponge thing. You only moisten them with water, but they get a lot of marks off that usually require some type of solvent. Good for pencil marks or metallic marks such as where something like my wedding ring may mar a finish. We do a lot of dusting too, especially on blinds and shutters. Swiffers are great for that kind of thing as they do not just push the dust elsewhere. I have found a good cleanup after installation goes a long way toward good customer relations.

From contributor K:
We use Goof-Off, Goo-gone, etc. It's like medicine. The worse it smells, the better it works. But they say a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down, so I am going to have to try the De-Solv-It, since it smells like oranges.

From contributor J:
We use Citra-safe. Has no harmful ingredients, smells like oranges, and takes contact off of laminate faster than thinner.

From the original questioner:
Thanks very much! I'm going to try the Citra-safe stuff. Thinner is just so bad for us and every time I use it I feel that I'm leaving the site that much more stupid.

From contributor T:
I have always used mineral spirits. It works well for the wax touchup of nail holes, especially in the summer here in the south. Wipe the surface with spirits, then rub colored wax, and for the most part the wax only goes in the nail holes. Does the citrus stuff work like this as well?

From contributor C:
Cleaner from 3M. It works very well. Also Super Cleaner from Wurth. It's good for some things the 3M Cleaner is not good for, like the mysterious black marks on melamine I sometimes see.

From contributor O:
We use Vim to take off the black marks on melamine. We buy an aerosol citrus cleaner from Richelieu, works very well.

From contributor H:
The citrus stuff is a good solution, but why does everyone feel the need to buy or endorse a product? Reach into your lunch bag, peel a hunk of rind from your orange (we all eat fruit for lunch, right?) and wipe away pencil, marker and grime. You won't even need a paper towel. If the customer catches you, sell yourself as a green company.

From contributor U:
I didn't know about the orange peel trick. I'll try it next time. Here is one: white painters caulk on a wet rag. Most of us have a rag and some caulking with us, right? Especially good for cleaning marks off painted walls. I don't know why it works, but it is pretty amazing. As for felt tip pens, nothing I know works better than lacquer thinner. Try putting it in a squirt bottle, so you only use what you need; that will help reduce the amount of fumes in the air.

From contributor N:
Where are you guys buying the Citra-Safe? I'd like to give it a try.

From contributor Z:
Citra Safe is manufactured by Inland Technology. Great stuff, aggressive on grease and glue. I think it has aerospace applications or something like that, originally.