If your kitchen's vintage 1980's era oak cabinets are showing their age, then there are many things you can do to make them look fresh and new again. Since taking the cabinet doors off of their hinges and refinishing them is a major project, you likely prefer to clean and update them in place. To this end, follow this procedure for updating the look of your vintage oak kitchen cabinets without taking them apart:

Wash Your Cabinets and Drawer Fronts with a Wood-Safe Degreaser 

Small particles of food and grease are carried with the air and land on every surface of your kitchen when you cook food. Even if you are very meticulous when you clean your kitchen, it is a guarantee that your cabinets and door fronts have some dust, oil, or grease on them.

To remove the surface dirt and grime, wash the cabinets, cabinet doors, and drawer fronts with a wood-safe degreasing product. As you wash, don't forget to clean all of the hardware. You can use a soft toothbrush to get into the crevices.

When you are finished scrubbing, wipe down the cabinets with a damp cloth and allow them to dry overnight. 

Sand the Wood Surfaces with a Fine Grit Sandpaper

Before you can oil the oak cabinets and make them look like they were newly installed, first you must remove any surface stains or imperfections in the wood. For example, if you have splashed water onto the cabinet below your kitchen sink and the wood has water spots, then those can be removed by sanding. Once you have sanded out any damaged areas and your cabinets have an even look, then you must wipe them down with a tacky cloth to remove the sawdust. 

Oil the Kitchen Cabinets with Natural Orange Oil

Now that your kitchen cabinets are clean and have a uniform surface, you need to apply an even layer of orange oil. Soak a clean rag in orange oil and wring it out well. Wipe the rag over the cabinets and work the natural oil into the wood. Make sure that when you oil the cabinets they all have the same color when you are done. It is important to note that the color will lighten as the cabinets absorb the excess oil. Once you are finished, then wipe down the cabinets with a clean dry rag to remove any excess oils and polish the surface of the cabinets.

Add Knobs and Drawer Pulls for an Updated Look

Finally, once your wooden cabinets are looking fresh and new once again, then you can go one step further and update them by adding some designer drawer pulls and knobs. By adding knobs and drawer pulls to your oak cabinets and kitchen drawers, they will take on a new look and will no longer look their age. You will be amazed what some simple hardware can do to improve the overall look of your kitchen.