De-Greasing Drawer Slides

Cabinetmakers ponder how to get the packing gunk off new drawer slides before it gets grimy and causes binding. October 12, 2007

Some slide manufacturers have taken to coating their slides with a grease or cosmoline substance before sticking them in the bags. Of course during construction, the slides get gunked up with sawdust and grit and before you know it, the slides are grinding and sticking, etc. What, if any, stuff do the rest of you use to clean the slides? Do you clean them as soon as you unpack them?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor L:
About ten years ago I started spraying the slide (while fully extended) with white lithium grease from an aerosol can. I do this before the drawer box is attached. A factory rep from Accuride told me this is what they recommend.

From the original questioner:
Thanks. Does the grease dissolve that other stuff that it comes packed with? I know this is elementary stuff, and I've never really had a problem with it before. Our last pallet of slides seemed to have more stuff (cosomoline, I suspect) than before. Some of the slides work as advertised and some are stiff and sluggish. I sprayed WD40 and it seems to be cleaning them up just fine. I will give the lithium a try today.

From contributor D:
And they're leaving a greasy odor too. Smells like opening up a transmission when you pull a drawer out.

From the original questioner:
That's true, but I'm not hitting every one, and they sit in the shop for days before installing. But you're right; WD40 stinks. Guess that's why I'm asking what others are doing.

From contributor M:
If you're using Chinese slides, I imagine you're talking about the coating that they put on them to prevent rust while making the big boat ride. WD40 is about the worst thing you can spray on a ball bearing. Good for wiping off the outside, but it will kill your bearings.

From the original questioner:
Thanks. I bought some white lithium grease and it seems to be doing the job. The outside is exactly what I was talking about. The stuff they pack the slides in is like a dirt magnet. Everything sticks to the slide. When I say I was using WD40, what I meant to communicate was that I was spraying a rag with WD40 and wiping the slide down.

From contributor J:
After you build them, and place them in storage, cover them up with furniture blankets or drop cloths to keep them clean. Motorcycle chain oil from a spray can works great for a re-lube.