How to Dry Out Cabinets After Water Damage Occurs

Cabinets in the kitchen and bathroom are often right in the crosshairs to sustain water damage. Because of the proximity to water sources—plumbing lines leading to a sink, dishwasher floods, overflow from a sink, faucet leaks—cabinets frequently end up affected by water.  Drying cabinets after a water damage incident is a specialized process and not all cabinets can be salvaged in a cost-effective way.

  • Particle board is a common inexpensive cabinet material. Consisting of particles of wood compressed together with glue and resin, particle board is particularly vulnerable to saturation. Water dissolves the glue and may make the material swell and crumble. If water damage is significant, these cabinets may not be salvageable.
  • Plywood and hardwood cabinets withstand water exposure more evenly and for a longer period of time. If dried promptly using proper techniques, these cabinets may be restored without permanent damage.  

Here are some typical steps a water damage professional will utilize to effectively dry out cabinets:

  • Remove all items from the cabinet.
  • Remove excess water pooling inside cabinets. Soak up water with towels and wipe dry the cabinet interior.  
  • Take off cabinet doors. The weight of cabinet doors pulling on saturated wood can cause yet more damage to the unit. Also, removing doors allows maximum airflow into the cabinet interior for faster drying.
  • Utilize drying equipment. Professional air movers that are made to rapidly dry floors, cabinets and other fixtures direct high-volume airflow into the cabinets and speed drying.
  • Reduce humidity. Excess humidity in the indoor environment—common after water damage incidents—hampers drying.  Dehumidifiers should be placed in the affected zone and run continuously.
  • Dry the hidden spaces.  The enclosed area underneath cabinets usually conceals water after a flood. This area is hard to reach but must be accessed to dry affected flooring under the unit as well as the underside of the cabinet.  Water damage professionals typically remove the cabinet kick plate, then utilize air movers and/or warm air injectors to effectively dry the area.  
  • Prevent mold contamination. After cabinets have been fully dried, all surfaces should be treated with biocides formulated to prevent mold growth.