How to Loosen Sticking Drawers

Updated: Jun. 30, 2017

A light cleaning and lubrication makes an amazing difference

Dirt, dust and old lubricant (or lack of it) can make drawers hard to open and shut. Cleaning gummed-up guides will help; so does the right lubricant.

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Loosening a sticky roller or guide

Photo 1: Pull the drawer out

Remove a kitchen drawer by pulling it fully out of the cabinet, lifting the front edge, and uncoupling the left and right drawer rollers from the cabinet-mounted guides.

Photo 2: Wipe and lubricate

Wipe old lubricant and dust from all drawer and cabinet rollers and guides. Squirt new lubricant into all four roller assemblies. Wipe excess lubricant off with a rag and reinstall the kitchen drawers by reversing the steps in Photo 1.

Photo 3: Wax wooden drawers

Lubricate dresser drawers by rubbing a hard-wax candle (or paraffin block) along both drawer bottom edges and the center guide.

Instead of fighting sticking drawers, take about two minutes per drawer to clean and lubricate them so they'll glide in and out with the touch of a finger.

For drawers fitted with rollers and guides (Photos 1 and 2), wipe them clean and spray the rollers with a drying-type silicone lubricant that doesn't attract dust. Look for the type that can be sprayed on plastic and rubber as well as metal.

Most dresser drawers don't have rollers and guides. To renew their smooth action, use a rag to clean out old dust and wax. Then rub hard wax (candle or paraffin) along the drawer edges and center guide.

Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • Rags

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here’s a list.

  • Hard wax or paraffin
  • Silicone lubricant