Prep kitchen woodwork for refinishing

The woodwork in the kitchen was last finished (polyurethane) over 30 years ago. Window sills and frames, door frames, wainscoting. It needs redoing. Q: What's the best way to remove the grease that has accumulated after 30 years of cooking and only occasional washing? Tried with limited success: Fantastik and 409 straight from their spray bottles and also a strong solution of Spic 'n' Span.
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Consider a trip to your local janitorial supply store. The pro products there may be more of what you need for a really tough job. Consumer products are often watered down versions of more powerful products to avoid litigation from misuse of stronger faster acting formulations. The pros are interested in getting the job done quickly, just as you are.
Joe
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Cabinet scraper
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****If you do decide to use TSP -- the real thing -- be sure to rinse repeatedly. If not, paint might not cling.
HB
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Oren wrote:

http://www.savogran.com/Retail_Products/Cleaning_Products/cleaning_products.html Amen. How they can sell "Phosphate-Free" TSP boggles the rational mind.
Aside: TSP added to dishwashing detergent gets your dishes as clean as the used to be before phosphates were removed (last June). As I recall, the proper ratio is 1:20 TSP to powdered detergent. Mix in big bowl, return to box. [cut "X" in box top, use funnel to return mixture to box, seal "X" with duct tape).
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You might want to try "Simple Green". Just dilute it to the concentration suggested on the label / packaging. It contains solvents that remove grease and oil really well.
If after cleaning, the surfaces still feel like they are grease / oil covered, you may actually be removing the finish. Old finishes, especially those not up to KCMA standards, will deteriorate and actually be partially removed with standard cleaning techniques. This tends to happen with finishes applied using hobbyist materials.
Good Luck.
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On 9/30/2011 7:57 PM, Paul MR wrote: Thanks, people, for the suggestions. I've learned so much from this discussion group over the years.
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On 9/30/2011 10:57 PM, Paul MR wrote:

If the greasy dirt has been on the wood long enough, it will soften the finish, which may make the color different if you just renew the clear finish. For light dirt/grease, any of those cleaners work well (Fantastic can damage glass) and 409 is my fave. For heavy gunk, mineral spirits can do a great job and not damage finishes (unless already damaged by grease); light job, wipe with ms on a rag. Heavy job, ms and fine steel wool.
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