How to Fix Sticky Drawers

Three Methods:Assessing the CauseSoaping the Sticky DrawerFixing Kitchen and Bathroom Drawers

Wooden drawers are quickly starting to fall to metal and plastic drawers in homes all across the world. The main reason for this is that wooden drawers have an awful tendency to stick when the humidity changes inside. There are a few simple ways to fix this, though, and the good thing about these tips is that they also apply for other things around the house - wooden doors and windows also stick from time to time, and can be helped the same way that drawers can.

Method 1
Assessing the Cause

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    Make sure that the drawer is sticking due to humidity. This article is aimed at those occasions when humidity is causing the drawer to swell and stick. Obviously, if the culprit of the sticking is a loose screw or splinter, this won't help and you'll need carpentry repairs instead. If it turns out to be something else, simply remove the obstruction or mend it.
    • Check for loose parts or missing screws. If there are none, check for objects blocking the drawer.
    • If none of the first things seem to be causing the problem, look for swelling (bulging). There may even be moisture present. And consider the humidity levels of the room the drawer is in––anywhere near showers, baths, cooking areas, etc. are likely to have higher humidity than other parts of the house. Or, if you're in a humid climate or season, the entire house may be humid, which will affect your furniture.

Method 2
Soaping the Sticky Drawer

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    Soap up the wood. Using very basic soap, (one without moisturizers or oils), soap the wood of the sticky drawers on the sides, slides and bottom side rails. This solution works very well most of the time. In the kitchen and bathrooms, however, where moisture is more common, the soap solution will only help for a very short period of time. This method is best for the doors and windows all across the house.

Method 3
Fixing Kitchen and Bathroom Drawers

Kitchen and bathroom drawers require a bit more work, since the soap will not help much.

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    Clean the drawers first. Wipe them down with a damp cloth, and try to remove all dust. (If you've been using the soap method, use a putty knife to remove the built-up soap.)
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    Spray the drawers with a silicone-based lubricant. Like the soap, this is not permanent. The lubricant will, however, last longer, and it won't build up as much as the soap will.
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    Clean up! This is extremely important if you use the silicone-based lubricant. If you accidentally sprayed anything other than the drawers with the lubricant, clean it up as soon as possible! It will make the floors very slippery, and if you do not clean it up quickly, it will be nearly impossible to get out. (If you don't trust yourself with the spray, put newspaper down before you spray anything at all.)


  • Speaking of sandpaper, if none of these tips and tricks helped you, use a less-rough piece of sandpaper to smooth down the corners of the sticky drawer. In the process, you may even find the actual problem in the process. Of course, this is best if you don't do it on stained wood, unless you like staining drawers over again.
  • If you don't mind a marking on the inside of the drawer, there is another method. Take a regular pencil (not mechanical) and, where the drawer is sticking, shade that patch of wood in with the pencil. This works best with the smaller problems, as the graphite is only a lubricant, not sandpaper.
  • Be clean, and remove the leftover soap from last time every time you reapply it. If you neglect to do this, it will build up and attract dust and grime.
  • You'll probably have to respray the drawers with the lubricant every two years or so if you take that route. Try to keep them as clean as possible between sprays so the reapplication will go as quickly as possible.


  • Clean up the lubricant immediately or it may not come off areas where you have spilled it.

Things You'll Need

  • Basic soap (for example Dial, Ivory) - no oils or lotions
  • Silicone-based lubricant.
  • A washcloth.

Article Info

Categories: Furniture and Cabinets