How do you loosen a stuck kitchen drawer? [7 Best Kitchen Tips]

  • By: Peter Allen
  • Date: 09/13/2021
  • Time to read: 9 min.

Do you have older, built-in cabinets or wooden furniture in your home? If yes, there are chances that you are dealing with sticking drawers. While stuck drawers are one of the most frustrating things we deal with every day, the good news is that you can fix or loosen your drawers whenever they start jamming.

So, how do you loosen a stuck drawer? Well, there are many ways to loosen stuck drawers, all depending on what causes the drawers to get stuck. In many cases, you can solve the problem by lubricating the drawer, realigning and sanding the rails, replacing rails, or re-gluing cracked and split pieces of the drawer.

Considering that stuck drawers can get your unwanted attention whenever you give them an ineffective yank, it is imperative to know how you can loosen them and make them open smoothly while serving their purpose.

If you are dealing with stuck drawers at home or in the office, this article is for you. Instead of wasting your valuable time fighting with a drawer that won’t open, read on to discover simple and inexpensive ways to loosen your drawers.

How to unstuck drawers

Drawers are usually designed to fit well in their crevices. However, their smooth action starts declining over time, especially during summer when humidity is high. That said, the most common reason why wooden drawers are stuck is the swelling of the wood – drawers swell and become too large to fit in spaces where they should be sliding.

While you can unstick the drawers with powerful pulling along with slight adjustments, there are other (inexpensive yet simple) ways to solve the problem. Once you realize your drawers are sticky, identify the root cause of the problem and use the most viable solution from the list below.

1. Lubricate the drawer

Lubricating stuck drawers is one of the simplest ways to make your drawers slide smoothly. If you have standard wooden sliding drawers without rails, you can lubricate the stuck drawer by rubbing drawers wax onto the bottom of the drawer and the support where the drawer’s planes of contact rest. Wooden furniture experts recommend using soap, beeswax, unscented candle wax, or paraffin wax. After applying the wax, push the drawer in and out several times until the drawer starts sliding smoothly.

If your drawers have rails, it is advisable that you inspect the rails for bends, dents, or any other possible damage on the rails that might be causing the drawer to jam. Loose screws or weak glue can also cause your drawers to get stuck.

After inspecting for possible damage on the rails, clean them with a damp cloth to remove dirt and dust, then apply your lubricant of choice to the rails. Remember to wipe excess grease. The drawer should slide smoothly unless there is another problem, which you will have to address accordingly.

2. Sanding the rails

Your drawers might be stuck because there is excess paint that has accumulated on the side of the drawer.

If lubricating doesn’t do the trick, you should consider removing a thin layer from the sides of your drawers. Using medium-grade sandpaper, remove any blurs or minor obstacles that might be hampering your drawer from sliding smoothly.

As you sand the stuck drawer, make sure you often test how it slides in and out of its crevice every time you grind a little. Once it starts sliding with ease, lubricate the drawer and rails, if any, and return it into its place.

3. Gluing cracked and split pieces

When the pieces making your drawers crack or split, they can cause your drawers to get sticky. To be sure that drawers are sticking because of cracks, take time to inspect if the drawer’s pieces are the same way they were when newly made.

If you notice cracks or signs of splitting in joints, use the carpenter’s glue or thumbtacks to fix the damages. For better results, you might need a vise and C-clamp or weights to hold the pieces together.

4. Re-aligning side rails

Even if you don’t bang your drawers, the rails can still be out of alignment. Thankfully, you don’t need to be a detective to spot split, missing, worn, or cracked drawer rails. A single screw is enough to interfere with the sliding of your drawers.

Well, if your drawers are jamming because of problematic rails, you can rectify the problem by aligning them or correcting other issues. When repairing rails, remember to check for any stripped holes and repair them.

If rails are causing your drawers to get stuck and cannot be repaired, the best solution is to have them replaced. It is an easy project that doesn’t need special skills, meaning any savvy DIYer can complete it effortlessly as long as they have new rails and a screwdriver.

Troubleshooting a stuck drawer

Fixing a sticky drawer is not one of the hardest things. Although there are a host of things that can cause drawers to be sticky, the solution tends to be the same. But where do you start?

  • Determine the cause of sticking and remove the drawer: Pull the drawer forcefully out of its space. Sometimes you will have to remove the drawer beneath or above the stuck drawer so that you can remove the problematic one.
  • Lubricate and fix other issues: Inspect for the root cause and use the appropriate solution for the problem. In most cases, lubricating the sliding edges (parts) will solve the problem. For example, if your drawer is swelling because of excessive moisture, putting a light inside or under that stuck drawer should get rid of the moisture, allowing it to slide smoothly.
  • Return the drawer into place. Your drawer should now slide smoothly.

Notably, sometimes jamming drawers doesn’t mean they are problematic. For instance, clothes can get stuck behind drawers and bar you from closing or opening the drawers. For this reason, it is advisable that you inspect for all potential causes of jamming before any drastic action.

Why do kitchen doors get stuck?

Doors not shutting correctly is a common problem experienced by many homeowners. While every door can jam, kitchen doors tend to get stuck more frequently than other doors in your home. So, why do kitchen doors get sticky?

Several things can cause doors to stick even if they have been handled with care all through. Bearing in mind that kitchen doors are opened and closed several times every day, here are the probable reasons why your kitchen door is not opening or closing as it should.

1. Natural wear and tear

Everything loses its efficiency over time, and kitchen doors are not an exception. Even without banging, opening and closing your kitchen doors too frequently can cause a considerable amount of wear and tear. Notably, the rate of wear tends to be amplified if kids swing on the doors.

Ideally, the use and abuse kitchen doors face every day weakens the hardware that keeps them in positions, causing the door not to open or close normally. Ultimately, the door will start getting stuck on its frames.

Far from what you can imagine, pulling down or leaning on kitchen doors can add to its weight, causing it to sag and become sticky.

2. Shifting foundations

Is your kitchen door constantly scraping, noisy, and feels hard to open? If yes, you are likely to be dealing with a subsiding foundation, probably because your house was not properly inspected during construction.

A shifting foundation usually affects most parts of your home but is more likely to manifest in moving parts like windows and doors. If the sinking or depression lasts longer, the drywall or plaster around the doors and windows starts cracking, and you finally have sticky doors.

To fix kitchen doors sticking because the home’s foundation is subsiding, you need to find whatever is causing foundation issues and fix it before you can start working on your doors.

3. Humidity (normal expansion and contraction)

The natural expansion and contraction of wood can periodically cause your kitchen doors to stick. This is truer, considering that kitchen doors are exposed to elements and extreme conditions, despite being internal doors.

When the temperatures are high, the humidity is also high. So what happens next? The wooden doors absorb the moisture from their surroundings and expand, becoming too tight in the frames.

Considering that humidity is usually high in and around the culinary environment all year through, this can be a lasting problem. To avoid further frustrations, take the door off from the frame and sand it until it can swing with ease. When completing this easy DIY project, be careful not to leave a massive dent around the edges.

4. Improper installation and sagging hinges

These are obvious reasons, right? While kitchen doors (and any other door for that matter) look like simple structures that anyone can easily install correctly, they need great precision and attention to detail during installation. A slight mistake during installation, including improperly installed, can be the reason why your door is sticking.

Besides improper installation, the hinges can be out of alignment when children hang off the door handles. The good news is that issues related to improper installation and hinges are easy to solve. In most cases, all you need is to inspect the hinges and screw them tightly or re-install the door with great care and precision to eliminate sticking.

5. Accumulation of dirt and debris

Kitchens have seen it all, and, with a lot of tiny pieces falling, sometimes door sticking could be due to slight obstructions that you can’t see easily. To the surprise of many, dirt and debris can gradually accumulate in the hinges, making your door sticky over time. Remember, the lubricant you apply on your door hinges attracts dirt and, over time, it becomes sticky, causing more litter to accumulate around them. The accumulated first dirt can impede smooth opening and closing.

If your door feels hard to open or close and doesn’t close completely, it is a good idea that you check for possible obstructions and eliminate them. You should also consider cleaning the door thoroughly while paying enough attention to the hinges.

Cleaning your doors frequently not only allows for easier opening and closing but is also more sanitary.

6. Latch-related issues

A latch is an essential component of your door, but can also cause problems. Indeed, door latches are a common reason for doors to stick on their frame. In most cases, this happens when the latches are misaligned, causing the door not to properly connect with the strike plate.

The problem can be easily rectified by unscrewing the strike plate and properly aligning the latch to fit well when closed.

Determining the cause of sticking

Your kitchen is arguably the most essential room in your house, which you happen to visit frequently. And that’s why you will get frustrated whenever its door gets stuck.

So, how do you determine what causes the door to stick? Well, this is simple; all you need is to examine and locate where the door is sticking. Here are all possible points of sticking.

Sticking along the top edge: In most cases, sticking along the top edge is due to changes in the door frame. It is common in older homes and can be solved by trimming the door.
Sticking along the latch edge: This is arguably the most commonly experienced door problem. Although it is associated with a loose top hinge, it can indicate a host of problems. It requires attention to detail to identify all potential issues.
Sticking along bottom edge: Though rarely, the bottom edge of your kitchen door will stick. In many cases, it indicates that you have a loose jamb.


Many people have unanswered questions about sticking wooden furniture. After all, stuck doors, cabinet doors, and drawers can be very frustrating. Well, while there are many reasons why you might be dealing with stuck drawers or doors, the good news is that most are fixable and, and indeed, very easy to solve. After reading this article, I hope you can quickly identify the causes of sticking and solve whatever problem you have.

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